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5 Life Lessons From A Legendary Notre Dame Football Coach

With the Michigan Wolverines’ College National Championship victory not far behind us, and Super Bowl LVIII around the corner, I decided to rewatch a favorite football film.

I’ve probably watched Lloyd Bacon’s 1940 classic, Knute Rockne: All American, five or six times! Starring Pat O’Brien, Gale Page, and Ronald Reagan, the film is funny and insightful. It doesn’t shy away from portraying the titular Notre Dame football coach’s Catholic identity, and manages to do so in a natural rather than a pushy way.

Rewatching the movie, I realized that it says a lot about life on a deep level. Let’s dive into the signals from Knute Rockne’s playbook!

Lesson #1: God can transform every circumstance and life experience.

If his parents hadn’t immigrated in 1892 from Voss, Norway to Chicago, Knute Rockne may never have played football.

The film shows how Rockne faced his circumstances as opportunities rather than hindrances. He grew up poor and had to wait six years while working his way to attending Notre Dame in 1910. He could’ve given up early on, deciding that his circumstances would dictate whether he could get an education, but he didn’t.

In the movie, a post office coworker asks, “Ain’t you just a little too old to start college, Rock?”

“Nah, that doesn’t worry me. I am a little worried about being too dumb to finish,” he jokes.

Instead of listening to his doubts, Rockne focuses on studying, ranking it above football and achieving the recognitions of Honor Man and football captain, and graduating Magna Cum Laude. If he’d let the doubts win, he’d never have realized his potential.

In the movie, as often happens in real life, the little details in Rockne’s life prove providential.

A summer job as lifeguard gives Rockne and his friend Gus Dorais the opportunity to practice what would become their legendary forward pass strategy. Rockne’s skill in chemistry may have contributed to the organizational skills that would make him a celebrated football coach. Even observing the structure of a show dance one evening gave him an idea for a backfield shift that would make the Notre Dame team unbeatable!

In your own life, have you noticed a time where God has used a seemingly irrelevant experience or challenging circumstance?

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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