Coach Brian Kelly says his team shares the same mission and many of the operating principles of the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley.
The University of Notre Dame head football coach thanked the club for its work at the 2019 Universal Notre Dame Celebration at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie May 7. Kelly was in town to honor the club for being named Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Outstanding ‘C’ Club of the Year for 2017.
“We’re acknowledging the great work they do in the community,” Kelly, who won four national coach of the year honors for leading Notre Dame to the 2018 college football playoffs, told CNY.
“Over 270 clubs throughout the country, and each one of them has some unique things they do in the community,” Kelly said. “Being here today, we’re going to be able to talk about some of the great things they do. It centers around community involvement, scholarship service, and those really are all the same principles Notre Dame holds dear.”
The club, which increased membership by 12 percent and donations by 25 percent, was recognized for its service to the community. A record 2,200 walkers raised more than $227,000 for ALS Association Greater New York Chapter at its 2017 fall event on the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. In 2009, the club raised just under $5,000 from 55 walkers participating in the club’s first walk for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
“This is a great recognition of our work in the community and all we do as a Notre Dame family,” said Linda Legault Quinn, co-president of the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley and a Notre Dame graduate.
“We feel very supported by the university with this recognition (from Notre Dame). We feel very happy and proud. It’s just a terrific day for us as a club.”
Kelly spoke to the 100 people attending the luncheon in a building on the banks of the Hudson River where Notre Dame founder and first president Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., paddled from New York to Albany while en route to Indiana in the 19th century.
“This is my 45th club that I’ve been able to talk to,” said Kelly in his remarks. “Never have I gotten a chance to come before a group and tell you how special you are about your ability to bring people together for great causes and to bring those causes to everybody else’s attention, not just in this club but across this entire country.”
Kelly later discussed the Notre Dame football program and the attributes that help it stand out from other top college football programs, such as his program’s high graduation rate, and the fact his players live in the same dorms and take the same classes as other members of the student body.
“I represent Notre Dame and the mission of Notre Dame, and our number one mission is to graduate all of our players and to win a national championship,” Kelly said. “To that end, we are recruiting young men on a day-to-day basis that understand that is why they’re coming to Notre Dame. We work on those traits with them every single day to get to that end.”
Following his talk, Kelly answered some questions before he and his wife Paqui were presented the club’s Exemplar Award for their Kelly Cares Foundation. The Kelly Cares Foundation has donated more than $5 million to support local, national and global causes. Previous winners included late NYPD Detective Steven McDonald; Sister Katherine Seibert, S.C.; and Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS ice bucket challenge. Sister Katherine and Quinn attended the luncheon.
“We have a very special relationship with Brian and Paqui,” Ms. Legault Quinn said. “They’ve done a lot of work with our club in helping us with our support of our ALS awareness in our region. They helped us purchase a bed for Pat Quinn for him to be comfortable at home. Their Kelly Cares Foundation is just a terrific support to our organization and our efforts.”
Joe Spiegel, 85, a parishioner of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie, is a 1956 Notre Dame graduate.
Speaking of Kelly, Spiegel said, “He’s not just football. He has good ideas and spreads his talents and abilities. He helps other people and that’s a good thing to see. It’s consistent of what you will see from Notre Dame.
“One of the things you’re supposed to learn from Notre Dame is it’s not what you do for yourself but what you do for others. A vehicle by which you do that is the clubs.”
Brian Laffin, a parishioner of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Pleasant Valley, was a guest at the luncheon and is a longtime coach in the mid-Hudson Valley. His late father, Mort, served CYO athletics for about 40 years at Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishes in Poughkeepsie.
Laffin said the part of Kelly’s message that made the greatest impact was “the fact you can get high quality athletes that will buy into the books.”
“I believe in that message, and I think you can have both. You can have a great program and kids working hard in the classroom. You can get the best of both worlds.”