Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly talks Irish roots, pride, adversity
Exclusive interview 'We are in it for the long haul'
O'DOWD: Tell me about your dad.
KELLY: Dad comes to all the games. He’s a bit of a celebrity. He’s on TV all
the time. He’s a Notre Dame [fan] – it was all Notre Dame [growing
He was a big influence. I think you are who you are based upon your
life experience. He grew up as an Irish Catholic in Boston, going to
church and being part of the community, and all the things that he was
taught growing up were passed on to me and now to my family and that
was that the church was important, community service was important,
and we all played sports and were involved in athletics.
O'DOWD: And like your dad, I know
you went to work for the Democratic Party. That’s an interesting departure for
a college coach…
KELLY: Well, it didn’t start that way. Actually, when I graduated college I
went to work in the State House of Boston and worked for a state
senator. Gary Hart was running for president and the state senator
that I worked for in Massachusetts endorsed Gary Hart. So he lent me
to his campaign. After that campaign ended, I wanted to go back to the
thing that I wanted to do all along, which was coach. I probably
wasn’t courageous enough to say it at the time [I graduated], which
was “[I’m sorry] that you used all this money to send me to school and
I want to be a football coach.” Didn’t seem like the right thing to do
at the time. So I went into politics for a couple of years, I enjoyed
it, it was a great experience but it wasn’t what I was passionate
O'DOWD: What did you learn from that time?
KELLY: I would probably say relationship building, how important it is,
trust, and also knowing how to work with the media. I was working with
the media on a day-to-day basis. So I think it helped me at an early
age to work with the media and reach out as best we could to build
O'DOWD: So when you started coaching, what were your initial plans?
KELLY: Just to be good at what I was doing, more than anything else. I
thought I had a lot to give and the ability to communicate the game
and teach it.
O'DOWD: Where did that come from?
KELLY: I think it was being in the back yard playing basketball with my
brother, or going out in the street playing stickball. I think just
competing. Today, everything is all planned for kids. When I played,
it was just – let’s go play. And you played because you loved to play.
You didn’t play for any other reason. Everything is so planned now.
Sometimes, I think today, we’ve got kids just playing to play.
So I had that inside, that I was passionate about playing and loved
the game and felt like if you’re passionate about something you should
be able to teach it.
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