The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference

The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame Sports Figures Who Made a Difference


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A unique anthology of 10 individuals who influenced, or were influenced by the University of Notre Dame make up the new, inspirational book, The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame sports figures who made a difference.

But it is not just about athletes. As noted in the second Foreward by the award-winning Los Angeles Times sports editor Bill Dwyre:

“Some of them are famous athletes – a quarterback who broke records, a running back who was a Vietnam war hero, a basketball star who pioneered race relations. There’s a story about a hall-of-fame coach, a swimmer whose accident almost left her paralyzed, a broadcaster who wasn’t good enough to play sports, but excels at describing them. There are stories about Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, who explained what happened on the playing field and also why.”

But the first profile “is the story of a priest who made sure that everyone at Notre Dame was a good person as well as a good athlete, coach, or teacher; a leader, who made a difference at his university, and all over the world.” That would be the Father Theodore Hesburgh, who served as the president at Notre Dame over a period of extraordinary change for 35 years from 1952-87.

Written by Jim Hayden, himself a Notre Dame graduate, the book is aimed at middle-grade readers and up and 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 ... and how students, staff and administrators can have a profound impact on the university they attend.

Muffet McGraw, the coach of Notre Dame’s astonishing 2018 NCAA women’s basketball championship team is profiled. Wrote Hayden, “If you’re not on Muffet’s team, you wish you were” and details her journey as a high school point guard from Pottsville, Pennsylvania to professional basketball and – like a point guard – being in charge of teaching championship basketball to young women in South Bend, Indiana.

So is the son of a railroad boilermaker from Connellsville, Pennsylvania who came back to Notre Dame after serving in World War II because it “was a place where good thing happen to you.” Johnny Lujack became the Heisman Trophy winner and won letters in four different sports.

Then there was the youngster from Green Bay, Wisconsin who described himself as “distinguished by flaming hair, milk-bottle glasses, and the two left feet of a nonathlete.” He wanted to go to Notre Dame because a friend of his did, and was studying the fascinating world of journalism. The “nonathlete” became the intermediary for millions who learned about sports from the typewriter of Red Smith, one of the finest sportswriters who ever lived.

The Pluck of the Irish opens with a tribute to Harry Ornest, who family’s contribution made this book possible. Ornest is best remembered as the owner who rescued the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League in the 1980s, but who had a lifetime of success in managing teams and enjoying sports of all kinds.

It finishes with a dozen facts and anecdotes about Notre Dame, including – on page 150 – who wrote the “greatest of all fight songs,” the Notre Dame Victory March. A great way to end an easy-to-enjoy book that not only informs, but like any good teacher, also provides inspiration and lessons which can be applied in the future by students of any age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780999396742
Publisher: Perelman, Pioneer & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/23/2018
Pages: 154
Sales rank: 770,807
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jim Hayden graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts. He has an Masters in Business Administration from Central Michigan University. Some of the subjects of The Pluck of the Irish and several of its sources were his classmates at Notre Dame.

A former senior partner and creative director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York and Los Angeles, Hayden earned more than two dozen national and international creative awards. His clients included Mattel, American Express, Dollywood and Paramount Pictures, and many others.

He decided to become a free agent in 1997 and as a freelance copywriter, he has created and supported campaigns for 20th Century Fox, Gensler Architects, Jaaks Pacific, Microsoft, Universal City Hollywood and many more.

He conceived of the London Underground line of youth-oriented fashion, obtained the necessary approvals and is the worldwide licensing agent for the British fashion line known as "The Underground."

For many years, Hayden has been the weekly voice of world, sports and national news on the Braille Institute's network for the blind and reading disabled.

He was born and raised in Shepherd, Michigan, but grew up in New York, and currently resides in Beverly Hills, California.

Thanks to Bill Dwyre, the stories of sportsmen and sportswomen who have overcome adversity have been part of the award-winning coverage in the Los Angeles Times for many years.

As the long-time sports editor of The Times, he ensured that these stories appeared, and is now directing a new venture designed to enlighten and encourage young people to read by telling such tales in an accessible format.

The company is Back Story Publishing.

Dwyre has long experience in leading such efforts, having served as an award-winning sports editor of the Milwaukee Journal and then the Los Angeles Times for more than 30 years. He is the only sports editor to have ever been named Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation and also received the National Headliners Award for his role organizing The Times' comprehensive coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Dwyre's team of more than 100 writers, photographers and editors produced 24 special, daily editions that covered the Games more thoroughly than any newspaper had ever attempted.

After concluding a quarter-century as The Times sports editor, he went back to writing as a columnist, covering a myriad of sports and was recognized for his reporting and writing excellence with awards in boxing, golf, horse racing and tennis. For his boxing writing, he received the Nat Fleisher Award, a lifetime achievement honor from the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Bill Leggett Award from the Breeders' Cup.

At Back Story Publishing, Dwyre undertook the task of writing the company's first book, "Tim Bradley: Hard to Heart," chronicling his inspirational rise from a difficult childhood to a world champion boxer.

He began his newspaper career, after graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1966, with a position in the sports department of the Des Moines Register.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Laura Ornest and Bill Dwyre

Introduction, Shaping History – Father Theodore Hesburgh

1. Hard Times Forged a Legend – Johnny Lujack

2. First, You Survive – Haley Scott DeMaria

3. The Elegant Explainer – Red Smith

4. Hard Lesson on the Hardwood – Muffet McGraw

5. The Voice in the Wind – George Blaha

6. The Impact Player – Pete Duranko

7. To Tell the Truth – George Dohrmann

8. The Agent of Change – Tommy Hawkins

9. Down, But Never Out – Rocky Bleier

Fun Fighting Irish Facts and Tales

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