We are still working on getting all the Subway Domer staff fully signed up and integrated with our site, but Steve in Iowa wanted to get a book review up. And his first review at HLS will focus on our loyal daughter, Lisa Kelly. Yes, we are reviewing one of our own AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS AT ALL.
Take it away Steve!
Echoes from the Endzone: The Men We Became, by Lisa Kelly
Reviewed by @SteveinIowa1
A few years ago I was talking Notre Dame stuff with a dear friend who happens to be a CSC priest. It was around Easter and we somehow ended up talking about all of the students who were becoming Catholic as a result of RCIA. He remarked that Notre Dame does as much for evangelization as any other part of the church. I think it’s true. People come to Notre Dame for all sorts of reasons. Some are converted– actually experiencing a profound re-orienting of their lives. All are formed– whether in their chosen discipline, athletics, by the Christian mission of the University, or all three. Notre Dame changes you forever.
I recalled this conversation as I read my copy of Lisa Kelly’s terrific book, Echoes From the Endzone: The Men We Became (2013). Why evangelization and football? (Perhaps more a more important question is “Am I horning in on Fr. Sorin’s schtick?” Not to worry, Padre, this is evangelization in a non-technical sense). Because at its core “evangelization” is about sharing a story with someone and hoping that story can transform other lives. Lisa Kelly has accomplished this twenty-five times over. She has assembled a wonderful collection of stories of personal growth and transformation. Twenty-five men formed by Notre Dame; each someone who went on to accomplish extraordinary things after football. Twenty five stories with the power to inspire.
I can’t cover every former player, but I can share some of my favorites. You meet the Forklift Executive (Marc Edwards), the International Waste Manager and Fashion Advisor (Allen Rossum), the Union Liaison and Youth Minister (Luther Bradley) and the Insurance Broker and ND Personality (Tony Rice). Kelly’s informal, conversational style draws the reader in by giving each chapter an authentic voice of its own. Authentic because in addition to the highs that come with playing major college football, each contains the story of personal struggle, either before, during, or after that player’s time at ND. You are with some men through academic difficulties. others the sheer physical toll that major college football (and NFL ball) take on a player’s body. Some experience personal loss; others struggling to fit in at an overwhelmingly white Catholic university.
The common thread running through each chapter is the Notre Dame Values Stream. As Kelly explains, the ND Values Stream “…demands integrity and the support of the community. It develops principles of leadership and rewards excellence in every endeavor. It is a constant search for spirituality, leading to discernment in decision-making in every aspect of life… It’s what connects the Notre Dame family… and [makes] us love and respect what Notre Dame represents.” It’s the formation acquired at Notre Dame that helps each former player overcome their challenges, and ultimately, for most, there is a happy ending.
Perhaps what I appreciated most was how Kelly was conveys how truly diverse, interesting, and talented this collection of former players really is. Too often the young men we cheer for become one-dimensional to us; we regard them as football players only and rarely consider them as ordinary people with non-football goals, interests, or hobbies. The profiles in this book thoroughly disabuse that notion with story after story of civic involvement, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and professional excellence.
With a glowing introduction by Lou Holtz, this book will appeal to regular Notre Dame fans and ND otaku as well. Those immersed in the minutia of the program and its history will find new and surprising stories about the players they cheered for. Did you know that Devon McDonald looked mean all the time because of a painful hammer-toe condition? Or that Joey Getheral saw people shot with an AK-47 his first day on the job with the LAPD? Or that Denny Green was terrorized by the Bercich family Rotweiller on a home visit while he was the Stanford coach? Kelly leaves tasty morsels like these in every chapter, very nearly on every page. (FYI- These aren’t spoilers, they’re appetizers. If you hunger for more BUY THE BOOK).
Since Saturday is Senior Day it’s appropriate for us to honor our seniors. Louis, T.J., Tommy, Carlo, Danny, and all the rest have been a tremendous class. They’re the first group to play all four years under Coach Brian Kelly, and while there have been some stumbles along the way, they are marked by the University’s demand for excellence with integrity. Though Senior Day is a football graduation of a sorts sorts for them, their stories won’t end there. At their real graduation they will be sent out to become leaders in their communities and their chosen fields. What kind of men will they become? What will their story be? Based on the examples of those who came before them I’m confident each will go out and make a profound difference.