Lou Holtz awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.— The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in America, was awarded to retired Notre Dame Irish football coach Lou Holtz on Thursday in a private ceremony in the oval office.

“Lou’s leadership and his faith and kindness have inspired and uplifted millions of fellow citizens he’s one of the greatest titans in American football history and his towering reputation will endure forever in the chronicles of athletics but more importantly in the chronicles of life because he’s really a life teacher,” President Donald Trump said.

Holtz is best known for his 11-year coaching career for the Irish, including winning the 1988 National Championship title for the university.

Just last month, Holtz tested positive for COVID-19, but was healthy enough to join the ceremony to accept his award.

“This award, as great as it is does not define who Lou Holtz is. My beautiful family, my precious wife and my friends, you have determined who I am,” Former Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz said.

Former well-known Irish-running back who played on the team under Holtz, and current Assistant Notre Dame Athletic Director Reggie Brooks, took a trip down memory lane.

“I’ll always the remember the story of you know when he said to us when we first got there as freshman, a lot of you guys won’t like me, a lot of you guys are going to hate me but you’ll thank me when you get that degree,” Brooks said.

Holtz is also known for being a 7-year officer for the U.S Army Reserves, a football analyst for ESPN and CBS, and most recently, a confidant of President Trump, endorsing him at the Republican National Convention.

In a statement from Notre Dame President John Jenkins on Holtz’s accomplishment, he said quote:

“A great college coach and engaging sport commentator, Lou Holtz was honored in 2011 with an honorary degree from Notre Dame for his leadership of students and generosity of spirit on and off the gridiron. On behalf of the University, I extend congratulations to Lou.”

Another former Irish football player, Ned Boclar also shared his excitement for Holtz in a statement:

"I want to congratulate Coach Holtz on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump this afternoon. I'm honored and consider myself fortunate to have not only played for Coach Holtz at the University of Notre dame from 1985-1890, but to have been chosen as a team captain both in 1988 and 1989. I consider being a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame a great blessing. As Coach Holts often says, 'it's the students and fans of Notre Dame that make it such a special place not the buildings.'

As a player, Coach Holtz prepared us to be men in the real world. His love for family, players, Notre Dame is only equaled by his love for The United States of America and the best that this great country represents. I love Coach Holtz for his service to our nation and his constant desire to see this nation continue to be the beakon on the hill for the rest of the world."

Brooks described his former coach as someone who deserves this kind of praise for all he’s done

“A lot of people think about him as a coach but one of things I look at coaches at. They’re educators,” Brooks said. “The team was more than just a team, we were a family and he really instilled that in a lot of the players that played for him he preached that on a consistent basis and the focus was always be a good person do the right thing.”

Brooks wants Holtz to know that the whole team is rooting him on!

“I just want him to know and a lot of his players want him to know that we love you coach, we care about you, and congratulations!"

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