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Lou Holtz greets new students wearing their beanies.
Legendary football coach, author and broadcaster Lou Holtz visited the campus of Benedictine College to deliver the keynote address at the school’s Opening Convocation.
His visit to campus started the night before the convocation, when a large group of students met him at Mary’s Grotto where they said a rosary. Holtz was the first donor to the grotto when it was built in 2007.
The next day, following an All-School Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, a crowd of nearly 1,400 filled the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium for the opening academic event of the year. With jokes, magic, and heartfelt comments, Holtz captivated the audience with his advice on how to live a positive and fulfilling life.
“You certainly made a good choice by coming to Benedictine College,” he told the students. “It’s a very special place with special people.”
“When you walk on this campus,” he said, “you can tell right away that this place is committed to excellence.”
He shared life lessons with the students. “Wherever you are 40 years from now it’s going to be because of the choices you make today,” he said. “Let’s not complicate it.”
“And how do you make good choices?” Holtz asked. “Three simple rules; the first rule is Do Right. If there’s any question, just check the Bible.”
“Rule number two; do everything to the very best of your ability,” he continued. “Not because somebody is going to award you or applaud you, but just because that’s the way you live.”
During this year’s Convocation, Lou Holtz and his wife, Beth, were honored with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict. Benedictine College established the Cross in 1969 as a way to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence.
Mike Polinquin, a math professor at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, one of three Benedictine schools in Atchison, Kansas, noted that Holtz was the second “Catholic celebrity” to spend time in Atchison in a week.
Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Stan Fortuna, also visited.
“It’s interesting to juxtapose Mr. Holtz’s speech and Father Stan Fortuna’s visit during last week’s all-school retreat: God blessed us with the chance to be with both of these extraordinary Catholic men in the space of six days,” he said. “Both men fulfilled their purposes admirably. Father Stan sought to find a way to be closer to God and invited us to come with him. … Mr. Holtz sought to dignify a formal occasion with a broad lesson drawn from his experience and delivered it with aplomb.”
Holtz is probably best known for coaching the University of Notre Dame to a perfect season and a national championship in 1988. He also served as head football coach for several other colleges. In his two longest tenure positions, Arkansas and Notre Dame, he had overall records of 60-21-2 and 100-30-2 respectively.
Holtz has been a television analyst for CBS Sports and the ESPN cable network and is the author of five books. His latest, the autobiography Wins, Losses, and Lessons, was released in 2006.