On September 24th, Montclair State received a visit from legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz.
Holtz was honored at a fundraiser for the Yogi Berra Museum that evening, leading a question and answer discussion in the museums auditorium and interacting with guests eager to meet him.
“When we had the to opportunity to have Holtz come in we were thrilled,” said museum director David Kaplan. “His messages of inspiration and wisdom fit in so well with what we teach here at the museum.”
With Notre Dame set to play at Syracuse that same weekend, museum sponsor and friend of Holtz, Peter Murphy, was able to make the event possible.
“I support some of his causes,” Murphy said, “so, it’s a little payback.” Murphy explained how impressed Holtz was upon entry to the museum, as it was his first time visiting. “He couldn’t believe it was this far advanced,” he said, “with all the memorabilia and the professional touch it has.”
Many guests attended because they knew Holtz for his iconic run as a college football coach. He is also proclaimed for his motivational speeches and the TV personality he brings to ESPN’s college game day. But as a junior in high school, none of these accomplishments, let alone attending college, was ever in Holtz’s plans.
“There wasn’t no way I was going to college,” Holtz said to the audience. He explained how he was born during the depression in a cellar, and that no one in his family had received that kind of higher education before.
“I said I’m not going, my parents said you are, I said I’m not so we compromised and I went. That was a typical compromise with my parents.”
These stories of humor and inspiration were just one of many shared during Holtz’s visit to Montclair State. When several guests asked questions directed to his coaching experiences, they left with a better understanding of his personal life and advice on perseverance and obligation.
“The most important thing we can teach young people is respect,” Holtz said. “With sports, you learn the obligation you have to other people and that’s how I look at a team.”
Virtually everybody in the audience that night wanted the opportunity to speak to Holtz personally. He spent time meeting with people in groups and individually, taking pictures and signing autographs for them. He even smiled for a few selfies.
“You just feel like he’s a friend,” said MSU’s Dr. Rob Gilbert. “He is so authentic and you know exactly what he believes in.” Gilbert is also a professional speaker and said that Holtz’s inclusion of both humor and facts makes him the great communicator he is.
Among the majority of older guests that attending the speech that night, were three high school football players. Holtz spent time and centered in on the young men giving them advice from a coaching standpoint.
“You can succeed when no one believes in you,” Holtz said, “You have no chance to succeed if you do not believe in yourself.
Listening to Holtz was fun, motivational, and brought an incredible opportunity to the campus of Montclair State.
Notre Dame went on to beat Syracuse that weekend 31-15.
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