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Fighting Irish athletes coach, mentor kids through basketball

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A leadership program headed by Fighting Irish athletes is a slam dunk at Muessel Elementary school.

Kids in the Pass It On club get to be coached and mentored by men’s and women’s players in their off-season.

Third and fourth graders got to bond with the athletes for four weeks, and completed the program Sunday.

“The whole purpose is to give our (student-athletes) who completed the Rosenthal Leadership Academy another chance to come together and impact the community,” director of Pass It On Collin Stoecker said.

“It’s taking those skills that they learned and then applying them through basketball and helping these kids get better, but also learning some skills that could help them in life, in the classroom, and help out in the community too.”

Since suffering a season ending shoulder injury last season, Notre Dame Football player Daelin Hayes said community work like this has opened his eyes for life beyond football.

“I always tell people that injury was probably the biggest blessing in my life thus far,” the junior defensive lineman said.

“What I was able to do last year during the season (was) get involved with this. Rosenthal Leadership Academy, our student-athlete commission board, (and) working with Pass It On. Just doing a bunch of things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do if I was playing football, and that’s allowed me to get more involved in the community and do events like this, which is really what drives me when I’m done playing football.”

Stoecker said the clinic will return next winter for another month with kids at a South Bend elementary school.

Hayes told ABC 57 he expects to be at full strength for football workouts this summer.

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