In this edition of "A Mother's Words," Irisheyes.com takes an in-depth look at Irish RB pledge William Mahone with thoughts from the person who knows him best.
For Celia Mahone, the path to football greatness for her only child came as a surprise.
But she had a special child in her care.
"As a single mom, I think God knew what he was doing with William as he was such a good little boy," said Mahone. "I don't even know how to explain it as I look back on it now: it probably wasn't very normal. He was just very obedient and eager to please. We are born again Christians, and William loved Jesus and loved church. He was just a wonderful little boy."
Celia was thrilled her son displayed total faith and trust in his mother at an early age.
"Even through 6, 7,8,9,10…years of age, I was always very careful with what William could watch on television," explained Mahone. "If he would be at a friend's house he would call me and ask if he could watch certain programs and movies. He would say 'Mom, I don't think I'm allowed to watch this movie.' That kind of threw me. He was just a really good kid and he still is good, but you go through the challenges of the teenage years and then William had to decide if he wanted to cave into peer pressure, or be an individual and be a leader rather than a follower."
Path to a Scholarship a Surprise
Celia wasn't surprised by her son's ability to earn a scholarship...it was the sport that surprised her.
"Probable around sixth or seventh grade and it was not for football," she said of her first inkling William could trade sports for a college education. "I thought it would be for basketball. People were always making over his jump shots and for his age how good he was. We would travel all over the place and the teams he would play for would win their championships.
"We really thought it would be for basketball and I really thought he would do something to get attention to get a scholarship. I don't know where football came; it just came out of nowhere."
Laundry & Cooking, My Oh MyWith most sons there comes a time when motherly duties are no longer at the ready, and the real world of taking care of one's self must be thrust upon a child by his mother.
Celia knows she's spoiled her son in some areas.
"I tend to do a lot for him as far as laundry and cooking," she explained. "However, I'm trying this year to make him a little more independent. I think he's going to miss mom doing a lot more for him and how he comes to me when he's got issues or pressures he's dealing with and I won't be there."
However, mom knows when her son returns for school breaks that she'll be ready to whip up his favorite dish.
"He likes ribs. Ribs and macaroni and cheese," she offered. "He likes to eat, period, and he loves everything."
Both Feeling the StressThe recruiting process proved to have a level of stress for both of the Mahones. But despite attempts by others, mother and son worked through the process toward a mutual understanding of what was needed for future successes, on and off the field.
"At first I didn't think it was too difficult," explained Celia. "But by 'first' I mean around the end of 10th grade entering (junior year). I would say from this summer on, I found it to be a lot more difficult, and I think the reason was it seemed to stress William out a lot, and it was hard for me to see him in a situation where he didn't know what to do, and feeling like he had to make a decision.
"You tend to like a lot of the coaches and you're not sure. I didn't want to make the decision because you're just not sure if you're making the right decision, or if you're doing the right thing or not. So you're trying to pass a few little nuggets on to him to think about and I know he wanted to be pleasing me, but at the same time I needed him to make sure he was making a decision he wanted as well.
"So I would say this past year has been very stressful to me."
No Special Treatment NeededWhile some parents and athletes get caught up in all the flash presented to them during the process, Celia found Notre Dame offered a soft sell, and thus the feeling her son would grow from his experience on campus.
"To me Notre Dame seemed like a real college experience," she said. "I'm not sure where I got that from other than watching the students while (visiting). I know he'll have a good time on campus, but I didn't feel there would be the enticements to get involved in some of the things that maybe he could on a larger campus.
"The fact they have to live with the other students and they are not treated special by living in separate dorms," Celia noted of a few unique aspects for Notre Dame student athletes. "Also the coaches, I didn't feel like it was a hard sell. They presented what they had and it was up to you to decide. It was the least stressful visit I was on."
It Almost Didn't HappenCelia Mahone know Notre Dame was a special place and not just for football.
"I don't know if I can even put it into words," she began when asked about how quickly she knew Notre Dame was different. "I was actually just driving into campus that I got an overwhelming sense that 'this was it.' I just don't how else to explain it. Maybe this was an experience for me because we were not even going to make the trip.
"I don't know what I thought Notre Dame was, but just driving into the campus, I don't know if I want to use the word 'tradition' but it just seemed like this was a real college campus and I just got an (immediate) feeling.
"Everyone we met seemed to be of quality. I don't mean to say other places didn't have people of quality, but Notre Dame just had a different caliber of kid and I got a sense of professionalism, but yet you know they are going to be kids and they are going to have a good college experience, yet still be focused. I was in awe."
Paying it ForwardAfter guiding her son through the ever-changing currents of the recruiting process, Celia Mahone feels she can give others advice to help guide parents and their children through the process to make it positive.
"Parents need to have a list of questions they want answered," Mahone stated strongly. "And they may not think of those questions until they make a visit or two. I also suggest they go on visits to schools that maybe their kids are not as interested in just to get a feel so they know what they want to ask and things they want to look for.
"Then write a list of questions out and don't just stick to the sports, ask a lot of questions about the academics," she continued. "And lastly, go with your gut. Just because something (appears) good doesn't mean it is good. You have to feel it in your gut. We found all the schools were nice, but I just had a special feeling about Notre Dame, and I think most of it was from the education I feel William will get."
NOTE: Part II of our conversation with Celia Mahone is forthcoming.