When I first heard this quote I was just a little kid who was watching one of his favorite movies of all time, The Sandlot. When you’re that young you hear things like this and don’t ever really think twice about what it means, why they say it, or anything. But with recent events it forced me to really think about what this means not only to me, but to other people in the same boat.
On Wednesday August 2nd, Notre Dame fans around the world learned the news that one of the greatest coaches in Notre Dame Football history had passed away. Ara Parseghian was recently receiving care for a hip infection but did return to his home not too long after in Granger, IN. Just shortly after returning home from the hospital, the old Notre Dame coach passed away at the age of 94.
Coach Parseghian was best known for being a savior of Notre Dame Football after bringing the team back from mediocrity to being a college football power house and National Championship contenders. Notre Dame won two National Championships in 1966 and 1973. He inherited the team after a stretch where Notre Dame Football was at it’s worst. Between 1959 and 1963, the Fighting Irish never won more than five games, winning only two twice. Talk about a great turnaround. In his 11 seasons at Notre Dame he won 95 games and only losing 17, giving him a winning percentage of an astounding .836.
We could sit here and talk all day on how Ara was one of the greatest coaches of all time. I mean, he was 2-0 against Bear Bryant and even against Notre Dame he posted a 4-0 record. But there was more to Ara than being a great coach.
Ara Parseghian was one of the greatest PEOPLE that could have ever been associated with Notre Dame. Now since I wasn’t born nearly early enough to see him coach or interact with people or anything, all I know is what others say about him. But when numerous people say the same thing, you know it has to be true.
In 1994 he founded the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation which was a foundation dedicated to providing the finances needed to research the disease known as Niemann-Pick Type C, which is a genetic pediatric nerve disorder that actually killed three of his grandchildren.
Players, fans, old coaches, and anyone you really ask about Ara Parseghian, they say the same thing. He was a great coach and an even better person.
Which leads me to this, had Ara only been known for his coaching ability he would have been a hero to Notre Dame Football for saving the program and when he passed we would remember him. But he wasn’t just a coach. He was a great coach and great person, putting him on the mantle of Legends, and Legends never die.
Ara will no doubt be remembered, but when we return to Notre Dame games in the fall, there is no doubt in my mind that his presence will be felt and at that moment, we will realize that he never died and his spirit is still with us.