Saturday, April 28, 2018

Typical: Meet Atypical. Welcome Mike McGlinchey

I have a lot of fun with words and phrases—or at least I try to. Case in point: when someone tells me, "it's nice to see you," the typical response is a gracious one—"thank you." But it's much more fun to say something atypical or different. I say "it's nice to be seen." It is. So when the San Francisco 49ers took Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey as their ninth pick in the 2018 NFL draft, I knew my students would expect me to make an announcement about it. They know I am itching for any reason to talk ND and they're right. So as I was scheming an atypical way to make news, I realized a fitting theme was emerging: McGlinchey is both typical and atypical. 
I began class by showing an image of San Francisco's City Hall. This majestic building at Larkin and Central Streets was lit in red and gold. One need not be a football fan to understand why—the Niners' colors and distinct—but I made sure everyone knew the NFL draft was underway.  
I then said "sometimes you go to a place. For example, as you know I go to Notre Dame—at least once a year—and I hope some of you will visit too. But sometimes you guys...Notre Dame comes to you." I then flashed the photo you see here. 

A student responded by asking "Did you see the reactions of the Niners fans when he was picked? Rather than jumping up and down, everyone was looking at one another with a look of confusion. They were saying What? Who did we draft?" I wasn't about to let anyone curb my enthusiasm. I replied "I know. That's a typical response anytime a lineman gets drafted. They never attract attention; they are workhorses. He has the most important job on the team—he has to protect Jimmy G. Standing 6''8" and 304 lbs, I think we are in good hands." 

I wish I had told them just how atypical those numbers are in the McGlinchey clan. In "Things I Know: And the Things I Learned from Experience" McGlinchey writes:
My dad is about 5'11". My mom is 5'8". So it must have been a genetic mutation—I got lucky. I’ve got two cousins who are 6-3 and 6-4 but nothing quite like 6-7. I was always the biggest thing in everything I did. Notre Dame got lucky with McGlinchey. He is a two-time captain and All-American who can add "first-round draft choice" to his accolades."

A few minutes later, in case I needed to add value to this great pick, I was happy to report, "By the way, he was a graduate student at Notre Dame last year. That's because in May 2017 he graduated with a degree in film, television and theatre from the College of Arts and Letters. A true student-athlete." Another student responded by saying "no offense Ms. Stricherz, but that's typical for a lineman. They're smart." Someone looked at him and said "you play O-line, right." Typical student banter. Love it.

McGlinchey hails from a huge Catholic family, which has been much discussed because his first cousin is Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcon's QB. The Niner's #69 writes
I grew up an Irish Catholic kid—in a very religious family. Notre Dame was always that school off in the distance that always had some interest for me because it was the Catholic school and they were on TV every Saturday and we really liked being able to celebrate the things we shared with Notre Dame. My uncle (John Loughery) played quarterback at Boston College in the ‘70s and my older cousin Matt (Ryan) played there, too, and is now getting his number retired there. Boston College was my first offer, and I thought I would wind up going to BC like they did. But I kind of held out for that envelope with the little golden dome on it. Once those envelopes started coming and Coach (Harry) Hiestand got the (offensive line coach) job and started recruiting me I came out here and never wanted to leave. In one visit I confirmed everything I’d always thought about Notre Dame.
I am heartened to know that a young person would value the Catholic character of Notre Dame, even from a distance. I hope that appreciation isn't atypical.

Though his clan sounds typical—so many siblings and cousins, we know in American life today with its many demands, this isn't. McGlinchey's "Strong of Heart" profile confirms the McGlinchey is much more than typical—they are exceptional in their love and support for his younger brother Jim who has autism.
The more I think about it, I don't think anyone is typical. We all have our own gifts, stories, attributes, talents, and gifts that prove we are atypical. However, I think we can all do our part to ask the questions, to respond, to play with words and ideas that let that truth reveal itself. I'll keep at it. Thank you Niners--thank you, Notre Dame. Mike McGlinchey—WELCOME. The Faithful await...

Photo Credits
Mike and sibs

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