June 14, 2011

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – John Heisler, Notre Dame senior associate athletics director for media relations & broadcast properties, is the recipient of the National Story of the Year award in the 2011 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Fred S. Stabley Sr. Writing Contest, it was announced recently.

Heisler, who has been a member of the Notre Dame athletics staff since 1978, was honored for a feature he wrote last winter about longtime Fighting Irish men’s cross country/track & field coach Joe Piane. The piece, entitled “Strong of Heart: Joe Piane,” was part of a book called Strong of Heart that was a collection of 20 stories about various people connected to Notre Dame athletics. The black-and-white soft-cover book was the brainchild of Notre Dame director of athletics/University vice president Jack Swarbrick, and was created as a departmental holiday gift.

“We are all in the business of writing stories about people connected with athletics, but this particular piece came about based on a concept that our athletics director came up with,” Heisler told the official CoSIDA web site, www.cosida.com. “The book included 20 stories about various people connected with Notre Dame athletics, past and present, and the feature on Joe Piane was centered around him qualifying as our longest-tenured head coach.

“I wrote that particular piece — and we had writers from all over the country contribute to the book,” Heisler added. “It turned out to be a great vehicle to tell some compelling stories that all traced back to Notre Dame in some way.

“This gave us a great excuse to get some of our Notre Dame people front and center,” he concluded.

In addition to his national honor, Heisler was chosen to receive the award for the best “general feature” in CoSIDA’s District 5, which encompasses all schools in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario. That feature was called “Strong of Heart: John Scully” and centered around the songwriter who penned the popular Notre Dame song “Here Come The Irish.”

This year’s awards are the latest in a series of writing accolades for Heisler, who has written, co-written or edited eight books on Notre Dame athletics during his career, including collaborations with former Fighting Irish football coaches Lou Holtz and Gerry Faust.

The 2011 CoSIDA Fred S. Stabley Sr. Writing Contest drew 159 total entries this year, with entries first judged on the district level, and district honorees advancing to the national ballot (voting was done by members of the CoSIDA Writing Committee).

All district and national winners will be recognized in a ceremony at 4:15 p.m. (ET) on June 29 at CoSIDA’s annual National Workshop/Convention in Marco Island, Fla.

To read Heisler’s articles on Piane and Scully, click the links below:

Strong Of Heart: Joe Piane

Strong Of Heart: John Scully