July 21, 2005
By Pete LaFleur
This week’s Tuesday Testimonial arrived a couple days late but it certainly is worth the wait, as former Irish quarterback Pat Steenberge (’73) – mastermind of the ever-popular Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp – shares his unique experiences that go beyond simply being a former student-athlete. After battling logistical challenges, brought about by Hurricane Emily, and illness during the past few days, Steenberge was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule as owner of Global Football, providing the sixth entry in this popular new testimonial series.
Steenberge just returned from the 2005 Global Youth Jamboree in Cancun, after overcoming the major challenge of rescheduling travel for the various participants and officials in the wake of Hurrican Emily. His company Global Football is a division of the Global Sports Group, Inc., a sports special events and international travel organization that provides the opportunity for young amateur athletes from different countries to compete against one another while experiencing and learning firsthand about other cultures.
In addition to his ties back to Notre Dame via the Football Fantasy Camp (which masde its debut in 2003), Steenberge also helped coordinate the Notre Dame alumni football team tour and Game in Hamburg, Germany (July 2000).
Proceeds from the Fantasy Football Camp help benefit the Brennan-Boland-Riehle Scholarship Fund that provides need-based scholarship aid at Notre Dame for sons and daughters of Monogram Club members. Steenberge estimated that the contribution to the fund from the 2005 Fantasy Football Camp was expected to be in the range of $40,000.
Pat Steenberge takes a hands-on approach as owner and operator of Global Football, which now has produced three highly-successful Fantasy Football Camps.
Steenberge’s bonds to his alma mater gained another layer in the fall of 2004, when his daughter Georgia began her own career as a student-athlete with the Notre Dame swimming and diving program (as a distance freestyle specialist).
A former partner of American Football Travel International, Steenberge earned two monograms as a member of the Notre Dame football team (in ’70 and ’71) while playing for head coach Ara Parseghian, with his career cut short due to injury prior to his senior season in ’72. He brings over 27 years of business background to Global Football, having specialized in communications, special events production and marketing.
Over the past few years, Steenberge has organized other events such as the Global Junior Championship and Super Bowl, the Aztec Bowl in Mexico and the Volcano Bowl (held at the NFL Pro Bowl) – in addition to tours to England, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Mexico.
He has personally developed solid working relationships with the top football organizations in the world, including the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), NFL International, NFL Europe, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., European Federation of American Football (EFAF) and American Football Federation of Mexico.
Steenberge’s contribution to the Tuesday Testimonial series follows below:
Tuesday Testimonial – Entry #6, Pat Steenberge (football, ’73); July 21, 2005
“As I stood on the plush turf of Notre Dame Stadium on July 2, watching as the participants in the third ND Football Fantasy Camp played their hearts out in a flag game, I found it hard to picture myself actually playing there. The 1971 season was a long time ago; so much has happened in my life since then. Was that really me, or was it also a fantasy?
“Amazingly, life has come full circle as my daughter, Georgia, is now going into her sophomore year and a Fighting Irish student-athlete swimmer! How did that happen? When I watched her compete in Rolfs last fall it may have been my proudest moment as a father, realizing that she was also living out her dream of attending the greatest university in the world, and representing Our Lady in collegiate sports.
Pat Steenberge’s ties to Notre Dame now truly span the past, present and future – as his daughter Georgia (pictured) is a member of the Irish swimming team.
“The Fantasy Camp project has been a blessing in so many ways, as this idea I initiated a few years ago has enabled me to get personally involved again with Notre Dame, with the football program and with the Monogram Club. It truly has been like coming home again, providing me a reason to get back to campus a couple of times each year. It also has allowed me the chance to work with the incredibly professional and personable people who are employed there. I guess I should have expected that the offices would be full of caring and competent folks, but they far exceed my beliefs.
“Like many former student-athletes whose playing days ended with an untimely injury, I left ND angry about what I felt was a less-than-fulfilled football career. I felt like someone had done me wrong, and it took me many years to realize that this really was part of the plan for my life. I knew what a superb education I had received, what amazing lifelong friends I had made there, and how du lac would stay in my heart forever, but still the unfulfilled football area was painful.
“Now, some 30-plus years later, I have been able to create an event that allows others to gain a small sense of what it is like to play football at Notre Dame. It feels that this is my calling, to allow people’s fantasies to come true by providing them a way to live, if just for a few days, the life of an Irish athlete.
“One of the wonderful elements of the Fantasy Camp for me and other former lettermen is how we are able to gather together a group of guys who each had their special days of glory in Notre Dame Stadium, helping the “wanna-be’s” to enjoy their moments of fantasy.
“Former All-America lineman Tom Freeman put it succinctly following this summer’s camp, saying ‘It was like a Field of Dreams experience for me.’ Tom and his former teammate, Tim Grunhard, got to coach football together at the camp and share a myriad of stories. At the same time, these players got to know and share stories with the likes of Kris Haines, Pat Eilers, Greg Marx, Brian Boulac, Bob Crable, Reggie Brooks, Gary Potempa, Ron Powlus, Mike Haywood and others.
“The Monogram guys at the Football Fantasy Camp spanned three decades of Notre Dame football – and we all gathered not to just play golf or socialize, but to help coach football! To help some of the world’s most rabid Irish fans enjoy and understand football as it is played at Notre Dame.
“Personally, the camp has opened the way for me to get to know so many former greats, with whom I do share a common bond and otherwise would never have met. I recall vividly last year sitting in the Morris Inn lobby, late at night, visiting with Jim Seymour, John Lattner, Mark Green, and Tom Gatewood. As I sat there, I could not help but think of how fortunate I am to be a part of the fraternity of ND Monogram Club members.
“One of the highlights of the recent event was when Coach Parseghian walked into the stadium locker room prior to the “teams” going out onto the field for warm-ups. His presence remains just as I recall, overwhelming the room, though he is not as tall as I remember from my playing days. Maybe this had something to do with that tower he perched in during practices, or maybe just due to his position as Head Coach of Notre Dame.
“Another highlight was when current head coach Charlie Weis addressed the camp players in the team meeting room, telling them how simple offensive football really is: ‘Just find their weakest players and attack them all game long.’ I guess it is pretty simple. This is another Notre Dame man coming back home to his alma mater, in this case to return our football team to the feared and respected group we all remember and lived.
Pat Steenberge in action during a recent Notre Dame alumni football game.
“It is curious to think back a few shorts years, to when I thought all the Monogram Club did was provide me access to a couple of football tickets each year. I had no idea of the extensive work being done on behalf of both current and former players of all sports. Now that I have a better sense of these efforts, I feel it necessary to tell my contemporaries about the Club and its work and to continue supporting the Club as much as possible.
“Thankfully, the Football Fantasy Camp has allowed me to donate significant funds to the Monogram Club for its uses on behalf of current students. The paying participants in the Camp, when told that some of their fees would be used for this cause, are overwhelmingly supportive of this, and in fact often have made additional donations themselves!
“When the idea of a Fantasy Camp was first brought to the Monogram Club Board, there were some who were skeptical of this proposed project. Would this really work for more that one year? Would we be somehow degrading the storied football traditions by allowing non-players into the locker room and onto the Stadium turf? What would former players think?
“Well, after three years of success, the answers are overwhelmingly positive. The demand to pay and play continues to build; former players are now contacting me asking to be a part of the camp with no compensation; and even traditionalists like Fr. Reihle have been caught up in the enthusiasm generated by these adults who come on campus for a dose of fantasy … and reality.
“I can vividly remember one night in the winter of 1969 when Ara Parseghian called my house in Pennsylvania, talked with me and invited me to come for a visit on campus. Having been raised and educated in a Catholic environment, my dream – my ‘fantasy’ – had always been to attend and play football at Notre Dame. This fantasy was realized and began a very special part of my life which will be with me forever.
“Now, through the Football Fantasy Camp, I am able to provide a glimpse of this life for other dreamers, to bring former players and coaches together, and to give back to the Monogram Club (and in some small way to the University). I continue to strive to ‘Live Like a Champion,’ realizing how fortunate I am to be a Notre Dame man!”
Do you have a recommendation of a former Notre Dame student-athlete to participate in the “Tuesday Testimonial” series? If so, please pass on the individual’s name and contact info. (if available) to Monogram Club archivist/publicist Pete LaFleur at email@example.com.