|Coach Holtz with ND Alumni and Classmates Jim and Don|
By the time we took him to the airport, his cup was full. I aimed to lay low, knowing that a whole lot of people had demanded his attention. I immediately climbed into the back seat expecting the guest of honor sit in the front. Lou climbed in next to me and said he hates wearing a seat belt and wasn't planning on wearing one. Before any of us could chide him or laugh nervously, he went into coaching and preacher mode. "This is the risk I take. I grew up never wearing a helmet on a bicycle and came out okay. I don't ride motorcycles and so I get away with this by not sitting in the front." As he spoke, I figured that if we were in an accident, I would lean over and potentially lose my life for Coach. What die hard ND fan wouldn't? Fortunately, no life insurance was needed.
|Lou sitting with long time Stanford AD Ted Leland|
He said, "How's your health now? I haven't had any health problems. I've been blessed. No strokes, no heart issues. I have a terrible diet and I eat a lot of junk food. I can't explain it."
Given his quick wit and sense of humor, I told him "Coach, I think I have a harder job as a coach than you did. Trying to get athletes who play an individual sport to think as a team isn't easy." Without missing a beat—or laughing for that matter—he went into coaching mode once again. He said "what is so challenging about golf is that you can only focus on the moment. Players have a tendency to think ahead, or when they have messed up—hang on to that. With golf as a team sport, every hole counts. You really need to stay in the moment."
Holtz was wearing a Masters sweater and I knew he was a member of Augusta National. I should have been more excited to ask him about football, but I have only met a few people who are members of Augusta and Holtz was was eager to share. He spoke about the history and tradition of the golf club. and what he does when he hosts other golfers. He told me he reads the greens better than a lot of the caddies. I assured him that is a good thing when he lamented how much speed he has lost on his swing. In our discussion of his green jacket, I asked him if the attendants call him Mr. Holtz or Coach Holtz. He paused and smiled. "They call me Mr. Holtz." Augusta does it right. So does Lou.
Our thoughts returned to how special the day had been. Holtz was laughing at these grown men recalling how intimidated they were by Coach. In response, I referenced an article from Notre Dame Magazine, that asked the question why more women don't coach men's sports. I paraphrased what you can read hear from the article "Calling the Shots"
John Soares has posed the question "Will women ever coach men? to his “Sport in American History” course at Notre Dame for the past five years. Until last autumn he had always received the conventional wisdom: No.
In a commentary the assistant professor of history delivered this spring on Michiana’s National Public Radio affiliate, Soares outlined common reasons his predominantly male classes of 35 students had given for dismissing the idea: differences in the rules between men’s and women’s games, possible locker room awkwardness and, finally, most women’s lack of what male athletes might consider an imposing physical presence.
Counterarguments offered by Soares and dissenting students included the fact that male U.S. coaches have won at the Olympics under international rules, that men coach women’s sports and that Lou Holtz, as one example, is less than physically imposing. These had failed to persuade the majority.I said see Coach, as you have said, "attitude is everything. I think presence is too."
One: it's the people. People like Don who go out of their way to bring the Notre Dame family together. Who wrote a personal and compelling letter to Coach Holtz, convincing him to show up and make the Legends Lunch live up to its name. And of course people like Lou Holtz who have it in them to respond and say "yes"—by the sheer fact that its Notre Dame.
Two: it's Our Lady's University. We say this often, but the graces that flow from the wisdom, vision and love of Mary are worth considering ever more....in particular during this Advent season.
As he exited the car, Coach Holtz gave each of us a gift: a gold keychain. He said he likes to give these to special people. He certainly made each of us feel that way....which is exactly what he speaks about: Great people make others feel valued and important. What that we all did no less.
Lou at Augusta