Former Irish player Peter Schivarelli continues to give back
At every Notre Dame football game, you can find Peter Schivarelli on the sidelines. The former player under Ara Parseghian has a deep love for the Irish.
Schivarelli, a hard-working kid from downtown Chicago had scholarship offers from Purdue and Indiana in 1963, but not from the only school that mattered.
"I never even went and visited. It's terrible to say but if I couldn't go here I didn't want to go to school," Schivarelli said.
After graduation Schivarelli went to work and opened a successful hot dog stand in the city.
"Ara started looking and wondering why does he always see me around with these guys? And it wasn't until maybe a couple years later, and he said to me 'Didn't you ever go to school? To college?' And I said 'No. I got a good job and a good business and I love coming to the games.' He said 'Yeah, but you should get a degree and go to college. In the long run you're going to be a lot better off.' I said, 'Coach I appreciate it, but if I couldn't come here, I didn't want to go to school.' He said 'Well, if you want to play that bad here, enroll. If you get in, come out as a walk-on,'" Schivarelli said.
Coach Parseghian's advice changed Schivarelli's life.
When he got accepted to Notre Dame, he handed over the hot dog stand to his parents, moved to South Bend and walked on to the football team.
"It was all due to Ara. It was all due to him. I would have never, I didn't know about it .even if someone else would have said 'You can do it.' without hearing it from him, I wouldn't have even wanted to attempt it," Schivarelli said.
Schivarelli was on a team loaded with talent including Mike McCoy and Joe Theismann.
Flipping through the pages of his old play book is a walk back in time. He can still remember the first time he ran out of the tunnel
"Believe me it was kind of, I almost felt like I was running in cement. My legs, it was just like I couldn't believe it. My heart was pounding. And I thought 'This can't be happening.' It really felt surreal, it really did. I have to tell you, I virtually had the same feeling every time. It was just every time, it was special," Schivarelli said.
Schivarelli went on to a successful career in politics and business and he has been paying it forward with various charities and Notre Dame ever since.
He has contributed to marching band and football scholarships. The player's lounge even bears his name
"It truly makes me feel good, but that was the thing that any success that I've had any place was due to that background. To me, it's always something that anything I can do, I'll always jump in and do," Schivarelli said.
But there was one thing still left to do.
In 2007, the Ara Parseghian statue was erected outside Notre Dame Stadium from a photo when his players carried him off the field after a dominating victory over Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl.
It was the perfect way to pay tribute to his mentor, coach and friend.
"Makes me feel good. That's pretty much, it's nice to see that he's remembered. He was just one of those special people, Schivarelli said.
Schivarelli is also the manager for the Hall of Fame band Chicago. The band will be playing with Notre Dame's marching band during the halftime show.