A Mother's Words: Karen Koyack

We continue our conversations with the mothers of future Fighting Irish football players as Karen Koyack talks about her son Ben, a verbal pledge for the Class of 2011.

Past and Future Connect

In the spring, Karen Koyack watched as her son made his college decision to continue his education and play football for Notre Dame.  For Koyack, the decision to attend the catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, may have been a sign of faith.

"It was almost surreal." Karen Koyack told Irish Eyes.  "To walk around campus and think your son is going to continue his education and play football here, a place that has such notoriety is just surreal." 

"I can tell you a personal story.  My sister sent me a picture over the internet.  My dad had taken a picture back in 1974 when our family had come from Wisconsin on a vacation through South Bend and a stop at Notre Dame.  I was probably twelve years old and I'm standing in front of Touchdown Jesus with my little brother Ken, who was five years younger than I was.  We were standing right in front of the library. 

She wrote the following, "Who would have ever thought!"  So there I am, twelve years old, standing in front of Touchdown Jesus and now thirty-five years later I'm taking my son to college there.  So that is a neat feeling.   To see a picture from when I was there as a child, and now, I'm taking my own son there to go to school and play football there."

Others Knew Before Us

Like most parents, Karen Koyack was never sure about the level of athletic ability her son would achieve.

"Ben was always athletic as a kid and he played all sports.  We use to throw the ball around a lot in the summer time.  In ninth grade one of his coaches approached him and told him, he felt Ben was division one material.  That year he played varsity football as a freshman. He was like the fourth or fifth quarterback in line, however, all the quarterbacks got hurt and he wound up having to fill in and played quarterback on the varsity team as a ninth grader and had a tremendous amount of success."

"I'm not sure that is when I realized it, but that is when his coaches realized it.  But it wasn't until we attended some camps and coaches started to talk to us and told us they felt he was a division one prospect.  We did not know a whole lot about it; we just knew he was a good athlete."

Enjoying The Process

Every parent has his or her own thoughts about how the recruiting process plays out.  For Karen, the good far outweighed the bad.

"For me there was definitely more good than bad.  I loved going to the different colleges, meeting the coaches, and seeing the facilities.  It was a completely new experience as far as traveling around.  We stayed local in our travels, but I found it very informative and exciting. "

"The down side was how overwhelming it was for us to try and narrow down a college.  We told Ben, if you go to California, we are not sure how much we're going to see you.  He had a lot of offers and he had to pick the school.  I think the hardest thing for us was helping him decide.  He had to ultimately be the one and decide, and it was just a lot of pressure on him.  I do not think there was much pressure for us.  He was the one making the decision.  I don't really have a lot to say negative about any of it, I really enjoyed it."

"As for all the other places we went.  I cannot say a bad word about any of those places.  Ohio State, West Virginia, Pitt, Penn State, those people were all wonderful and took care of us when we visited.  I think it was just the fact Notre Dame is smaller.  A nice little small school, a catholic school, and we kind of felt at home there, at least that is how I felt."

Not Strangers

Ben and his family were no strangers to Notre Dame having taken part in a camp a couple of years prior.

"Before Ben picked Notre Dame, we had gone out there two years prior and did a one day camp.  We had seen campus and knew about it.  I always loved the idea of Notre Dame, but I have never been a big college football fan.  So I did not really know much about it other than the reputation of Notre Dame. 

"When Ben got the offer, we were excited and told Ben this was great because he was going to get a great education.  If football can get you there, no matter what you decide to do in the future, Notre Dame is going to give you a great education.  But being at Notre Dame, there is just something special about Notre Dame."

Note: Irish Eyes will have more from Karen Koyack on her son and Irish verbal pledge Ben Koyack in part two.

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