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Notre Dame: The Pluck of the Irish

10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference

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With just over two weeks until the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have their season opener against the University of Michigan inside Notre Dame Stadium, I’m looking for anything and everything Notre Dame that I can get my hands on. In my search to ingest all things Notre Dame, I found this wonderful new book, “The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference.” This inspirational anthology tells the stories of 10 individuals (not all athletes) who were influenced by Notre Dame and went on to make a difference.

The book, written by Jim Hayden (a Notre Dame graduate himself), is a fun and enjoyable read for anyone who wants to understand the positive impact that an institution like Notre Dame can have during a crucial, formative period of their lives. Also, it shows how students, staff and administrators can have a profound impact on the University they attend.

The Pluck of the Irish opens with a tribute to Harry Ornest, whose family’s contributions made this book possible. Ornest is best remembered as the owner who rescued the St. Louis Blues (of the National Hockey League) in the 1980’s, and who had a lifetime of success in managing teams and enjoying sports of all kinds. Once Harry realized at age 22 that he wasn’t good enough to play baseball professionally, he made sure he wasn’t far away from the game. He taught his children the value of hard work, had a good sense of humor, and loved to laugh, even at himself. In the foreword, written by Laura Ornest (Harry’s daughter), she hopes “these stories of notable Notre Dame sports figures inspire you as much as our dad inspired us.”

The book includes stories about Father Theodore Hesburgh: Shaping History, Johnny Lujack: Hard Times Forged a Legend, Haley Scott DeMaria: First, You Survive, Red Smith: The Elegant Explainer, Muffet McGraw: Hard Lesson on the Hardwood, Geoge Blaha: The Voice in the Wind, Pete Duranko: The Impact Player, George Dohrmann: To Tell the Truth, Tommy Hawkins: The Agent of Change, Rocky Bleier: Down, But Never Out, and concludes with some Fighting Irish Fun Facts and Tales.

Which chapter did I enjoy the most? That’s a tough question, as I have enjoyed them all. Even though I have heard Haley Scott DeMaria’s story many times, and was a student at Notre Dame when it all happened, I always find myself so inspired each time I read it. Of course, Father Hesburgh’s chapter is uplifting, and even contained a story about Father Hesburgh that I’ve never heard before. And I very much enjoyed Johnny Lujack’s story. I am always blown away by the stories of the athletes from the 1940’s who made it a priority to balance going to college along with serving their country and fighting in WWII. They are our true heroes.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the book or you won’t go get it yourself! Please, do yourself a favor and check it out ... The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference. It is available in both print and ebook versions, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Do you have any specific questions about the book? Leave them for me in the comments!

Cheers & GO IRISH!