Lisa Kelly, a ’93 Notre Dame graduate and a contributor to this site, has just released a long-awaited companion to her first book, “Echoes from the End Zone: The Men We Became.”
The new book, “More Echoes…” (buy: Amazon, B&N) includes interviews with 30 former football players who reminiscence about their time at Our Lady’s University and explain how they parlayed on-field success to their professional careers off the field. Kelly’s enduring motif is what she’s coined the “Notre Dame value stream.” It’s a set of life tools that student-athletes learn in their classrooms, in the locker rooms and through their relationship with a higher power.
Each former player offers aphorisms that reflect their “value stream,” such as:
“One thing that you have to keep intact is your mind and your ability to think. You have to maintain good academic standing. You have to put academics first; there is no two ways about it.”
(That’s from Ken MacAfee, who played tight end under both Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine.)
Kelly interviewed student-athletes who played for different coaches in different eras and had different amounts of on-field success.
“One thing that has been pretty constant among all of the players is how they feel Notre Dame prepared them – both from on the field and off the field experiences – for life after college and life after football,” the author said. “Being prepared is an important skill that can be used in all aspects of life, and Notre Dame does a great job of teaching these young men the importance of preparation.”
While Kelly acknowledges her book will most appeal to Notre Dame fans, she also got great feedback from readers who enjoy good human interest stories.
“The books have a great education value for young people, as well,” she said. “They show how a good education, solid values and preparation are needed to succeed in life beyond college and beyond football.”
Kelly said her favorite interview of the second installment was Kinnon Tatum ’97, a ferocious linebacker who played for Lou Holtz.
“His passion for life and the game of football is off the charts and his stories were quite captivating,” said Kelly of her subject. “He’s one of two guys in the book who survived Hurricane Katrina, and his journey hasn’t been without some trials, but he’s a survivor and has come out on top.”
(Tatum is currently working for Allstate insurance and is based out of Chicago, according to the book.)
Kelly was writing her book in the midst of balancing a full-time job and being a supportive wife and mother. She worked diligently to keep everyone’s story current, only to see two of her subjects land new jobs right after the book started rolling off the presses.
“It is bittersweet for me, but that is the nature of print,” said Kelly. “History is constantly writing itself.”
Jeff Burris, a ’93 graduate, joined the Irish’s coaching staff as a senior defensive analyst. Kelly said Burris was “thrilled to be returning home and joining four of his fellow Domers (Todd Lyght, Autry Denson, Ron Powlus and David Grimes) already on the Notre Dame football coaching staff.”
Byron Spruell ’87 ’89 MBA, was just announced as the NBA’s president of league operations. Spruell began his position earlier this month and “will be responsible for the management of rules changes, training and evaluation of referees, discipline and other important NBA operations.”
Kelly admits the process of writing her first book was a bit overwhelming. With a little time, however, the author felt herself gravitating back to interviewing former players. Now she’s thinking about a second companion piece to her original publication.
“I do have plans to write a third book, but my intention is to make it a multi-sport book,” said Kelly. “I will still include some football players, but I’d also like to branch out to basketball, baseball, hockey, track & field, and include some women’s sports as well, such as women’s basketball and women’s soccer. I enjoy showcasing the successes of Notre Dame’s student-athletes, and what an excellent job Notre Dame does in molding future leaders.”
BOOK NOW AVAILABLE
There are several ways to purchase both Kelly’s first and second books.
“Echoes from the End Zone: The Men We Became” can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion and at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. A personalized copy makes a great gift; if you’d like your copy autographed, Kelly suggests e-mailing her at LKND93@sbcglobal.net (shipping is free!)
The new book, “The Men We Became: More Echoes From the End Zone,” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at book signings this fall. The official launch party from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at the Robust Wine Bar, 227 West Lockwood Avenue, St. Louis, Mo.
Kelly is also arranging signings in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, during Notre Dame game weekends and has booked an Oct. 28 signing at the Notre Dame bookstore (on campus) during the weekend of the Miami game. For the most up-to-date listings of signings and events, visit Kelly’s website.