Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz (1986-96) concluded Saturday evening’s Irish Invasion when he addressed the group of promising group of future college football prospects as a surprise guest speaker.
Current Irish head coach Brian Kelly introduced Holtz, and the talk lasted about three-and-a-half minutes, with the emphasis on making right choices. Here is the full transcript:
"Whatever is going to happen to you the rest of your life is going to be because of the choices you make. You talk about going to college and playing football — it’s a choice. You choose to do drugs, drop out of school, join a gang — you’re choosing to have difficulty in life. Just make good choices. You make good choices and great things are going to happen to you.
"I also hope you realize how lucky you are. Let me tell you a little about me. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was born during the Depression. True story. I was born in a cellar, not in a hospital. My dad had a third-grade education. We had one bedroom for my sister, myself and my parents. We had a kitchen, we had a half bath that didn’t have a tub, a shower or a sink. There was no welfare, there was no food stamps, there was no safety net. We lived there seven and a half years.
"The reason I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth was I was born in this country. I wasn’t unexpected, I wasn’t not wanted and I wasn’t unloved. I was taught that I was born in a great country and if I was willing to work hard and care about other people, that great things can happen.
"And I was fortunate because I was involved in football at an early age. Football is the greatest game in the world, and I hope you appreciate how lucky you are, because God gave you the talent. I used to pray ‘Oh, I want to be a good athlete.’ I wasn’t a good athlete, but it put me in the coaching profession for many years. You’re blessed — just make good choices.
"Above all, believe in yourself. I look out here and I see all of this talent. You look and you compare and say, ‘Wow he can run, he can … ‘ the hell with them. Believe in yourself, have a faith, make good choices and decide what you want to do.
"You decide what you want to do. 'I want to be an All-American, I want to play in the NFL, I want to graduate from college, I want to get a scholarship to Notre Dame' — whatever it is, but answer these questions honestly: What sacrifice are you willing to make to do that? Too many people in this world want something to happen without understanding there’s going to be a price for it.
"Second thing you have to ask yourself: What skills and talents do I have to acquire in order to do that? Maybe its blocking, tackling, whatever, get stronger…
"Third question you have to ask: Who do I have to work with in order to get this done? It’s your high school teammates, your high school coaches — and then what problem am I going to have? Football is a great game because it’s a togetherness game. One man cannot make a team, but it can ruin a team.
"Enjoy your last year or two years of high school. Relish it, cherish it. Don’t be afraid about the future — just make damn sure you make good choices.
"You want to be happy for an hour, eat a steak. You want to be happy for a day, play golf. You want to be happy for a week, go on a cruise. Going on a cruise is like being in jail, except in jail you don’t have a chance to drown. You want to be happy for a month, buy a new car. You want to be happy for a year, win the lottery.
"You want to be happy for a lifetime — make good choices and bring your ass to Notre Dame. Thank you."