Knute Rockne, Catholic convert, on the 80th anniversary of his death

If Rockne was merely the greatest coach who ever lived (his 13-season record of 105 wins, 12 loses and 5 ties, still remains the best ever in college football) his death at forty-three would not have brought such grief, nor would his legend have been so lasting. Son of Norwegian immigrants, Rock came to America at the age of five after his father’s two-wheel carry-all buggy won an award at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Knute learned the game of football in the rough and tumble Windy City neighborhood of Logan Square, under the watchful eye of (I’m not kidding!) “an Irish copper named O’Goole.” Knute’s dad Lars wasn’t keen on college, so Rockne earned his way to Notre Dame (then cheaper than the University of Illinois!) by working in the mail room for five years before entering Our Lady’s University, “the lone Norse Protestant invader of a Catholic stronghold,” a balding broken-nosed freshman, at the age of twenty-two.

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Joliet Catholic basketball coach dies suddenly at 29

(JOLIET) Jeremy Izzo, a history teacher and the boys varsity basketball coach at Joliet Catholic Academy, died suddenly Friday, school officials said. He was 29.

“Jeremy was a great guy. He was a man of character,” said JCA Principal Jeffrey Budz on Saturday. “He was a great coach and a great teacher. He will be truly missed by our school. This is a shock to the Joliet Catholic Academy community.”

Budz was on his way to a Saturday evening prayer service in which Izzo was to be remembered. The principal said he was unsure of the exact cause of death.

Izzo came to JCA in 2009 with a strong endorsement from Bruce Weber, men’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois. While attending Illinois, Izzo had worked for Weber’s staff as a student manager, graduate assistant and finally as the game analysis coordinator specializing in video.

Before Weber became coach, Izzo had worked as a student manager for Coaches Lon Kruger and Bill Self.