April 25, 2000

by Jane E. Pater

If they had a place in the dictionary, Irish seniors Keith Parendo and Dave Rubano would be found next to the term “for the love of the game.” Although their paths to Notre Dame and their careers in an Irish uniform have been different, it is obvious how much these two simply enjoy playing the game.

After starting out in the youth leagues in his hometown of West Islip, N.Y., Rubano continued playing through high school and was then recruited by the Irish. After weighing his options, both academically and athletically, Rubano decided coming to Notre Dame was the best fit for him.

For Parendo, a 5-9 attack from Mineola, N.Y., his early years of playing lacrosse were similar to those of his teammate. However, once he began to look at colleges, his path diverged from those of many of the other Irish players.

“I was recruited by a couple of other schools but not by Notre Dame,” Parendo says. “When I was accepted here, I decided on Notre Dame for the education it was going to provide for me. I knew that I could walk-on to the lacrosse team, but was both my freshman and sophomore years. I stuck with it, and made the team last year.”

Although he has only been a member of the team for two seasons, Rubano insists that Parendo is still “one of the boys.” Both players enjoy the camaraderie of the team and particular “closeness” of this Irish squad.

“These guys have become like my family.” Rubano says. “We’re forty guys strong. Everyone likes everyone else, and we work very well together.” Parendo adds, “It’s that unity that makes us special.” In the midst of a four-game winning streak, the Irish have recently risen to No. 12 in the polls. Their victory against Army marked coach Kevin Corrigan’s 100th victory as the director of the Irish lacrosse program.

While they may not be the team leaders in a statistical category, Parendo and Rubano continue to help the team stay focused – taking one game at a time. In that respect, their role on the team is as important as that of any starter.

Besides staying focused on the field, both seniors believe that lacrosse has helped them focus in the classroom as well. Parendo notes that his grades have improved since he joined the team. The time commitment required by an athletes forces them to focus on time management. The commitment that playing a varsity sport demands has reminded both Parendo and Rubano about the benefits of sticking with something you really enjoy. Despite their imited playing time, neither athlete has ever thought twice about his decision to play lacrosse at Notre Dame. Playing lacrosse has ingrained in them a sense of humility that has encouraged them to give back to the community some of what they have gained from it.

Though their careers as Irish athletes may end when this season does, their dedication to the sport will continue. Both have coached at summer camps and in pee-wee leagues in an effort to ensure that the next generation of players comes to the field with as much enthusiasm as these two will leave with once their careers are over. “It’s a lot of fun,” Parendo says. “It’s great to be able to give back to the kids.”

Their experiences with the lacrosse team have taught them many lessons, ones that they will take with them outside of Notre Dame. The lessons he has gained during his four year as both a student and lacrosse player, reminds Ruban of the old analogy, “It’s like climbing stairs, you take one at a time. Hopefully, we’re taking the right steps to achieve our goals.”

With only two games remaining on the regular schedule this season, Parendo and Rubano plan on taking full advantage of the rest of their time as Irish lacrosse players. They are still intent on helping their teammates stay focused and will continue to serve as constant sources of encouragement for the guys on the field.

Despite seeing limited playing time, Rubano’s commitment to his teammates and to his team is unfailing. At the same time, Parendo’s love for the game is evident in his dedication to making the squad. On every team, the players acting in supporting roles are vital to the success of the team as a whole. With guys like Keith Parendo and Dave Rubano filling those roles for the Irish, it is no wonder the team is soaring to new heights.