by Steve Johnson
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Legendary football coach, author and broadcaster Lou Holtz visited the campus of Benedictine College here on Aug. 28 to deliver the keynote address at the school’s opening convocation. Following an all-school Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. 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.
“Wherever you are 40 years from now, it’s going to be because of the choices you make today,” he said to the students in attendance. “Let’s not complicate it.”
“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.”
“And the last rule: Show people you care,” he said. “I know you’re young people, but you’ll never meet anybody in the rest of your life that doesn’t need a smile, doesn’t need a kind word, doesn’t need encouragement. Show people that you care.”
“It isn’t magic,” he said. “If you always do the right thing, do everything to the best of your ability and show people you care, you’ll always make good choices. And when you get to be as old as I am, you’ll look back and you’ll have no regrets.”
Holtz also complimented the college on its dedication to quality.
“When you walk on this campus,” Holtz noted, “you can tell right away that this place is committed to excellence.”
“You certainly made a good choice by coming to Benedictine College,” he told the students. “It’s a very special place with special people. Let’s make sure that it’s better when you leave than it was when you came.”
Holtz received an honorary degree from the college in 2007, when he delivered the commencement address. During this convocation, he and his wife Beth were honored with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict.
Benedictine College established the honor in 1969 as a way to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence. The Holtzes were some of the first donors to the construction of Mary’s Grotto in the center of the college campus, and they have been regular donors to the college ever since.
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 the College of William and Mary, North Carolina State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Minnesota, the University of South Carolina, and the New York Jets of the National Football League. In his two longest tenure positions, at Arkansas and Notre Dame, he had overall records of 60-21-2 and 100-30-2 respectively.