All Theresa Romero Could Do Was Cry

It was the spring of 2004 and the single mother of five had just toured the Cretin-Derham Hall campus in St. Paul (MN) at the insistence of her youngest child and only son, eighth-grader Michael Floyd. Romero had already told her son that the family did not have enough money to send him to a private school, but he was still able to convince her to attend the open house. 

 "It's a fantastic school. They basically guarantee you that any child will do well there if they want to," Romero said. "I didn't say no to him very often when he was a child, but I was going to have to say no because I couldn't afford it." 

 The group of accomplished Cretin-Durham Hall athletes would hold up against the list of almost any other high school in the nation. Paul Molitor, Joe Mauer, Chris Weinke, and former Notre Dame offensive lineman Ryan Harris are just a sampling of the athletes that suited up for the Raiders. But Floyd's mother didn't care about Cretin-Derham's athletic history; in fact she knew nothing of it. 

 "I was dreading having to tell him no and I was praying about it," Romero said. "One day I got on the bus to go to work and the Spirit of God spoke to my heart. It said ‘Isn't this a good thing that your son wants?' I cried right then and there. It was a wonderful thing that he wanted." 

 So mom told her son that somehow, together they would make it work. 

 "The Lord told me he would take care of us and I decided to let him go," she said. "I struggled that first year paying, but they have a program that allows you to work the concessions at the Metrodome and the Xcel Energy Center and that money goes straight to tuition." 

 Without the benefit of a car, Romero took on the concession jobs and Michael Floyd agreed to a work-study program to help with the tuition that would require him to be at school an hour before the opening bell. 

 Floyd and his mom live on the east side of St. Paul, and without a car Floyd would need to be up by 5:15 every morning to catch a bus downtown. Once downtown, he'd hop on another bus that would take him to Cretin-Derham. Floyd would arrive on campus by 6:30, giving him enough time to clean the school's weight room before his 7:50 class. 

 Meanwhile, Romero spent so much time working to support her family that she had few opportunities to see Michael's games. 

 "Michael played AAU basketball and I went to one of the meetings. I overheard another parent say that she didn't know Michael Floyd had parents," Romero said. "I don't think she meant any harm by it, but it still hurt." 

 It was tough, but together mother and son were able to make it work. Floyd managed to pull down a 3.2 grade-point average and got in with a new group of friends. Romero never had any second thoughts about the sacrifices that they made. 

 "The desire in my heart is that every kid in America have the chance to go to a school like that or something similar," she said. "We would have scientists and geniuses and somebody worth voting for." 

 As Floyd excelled academically and socially, his athletic career also took off. 

 Between the ninth and tenth grades, Floyd shot up in height and his big sisters could no longer pick on him for being short. Soon they wouldn't be able to call him skinny either. 

 Despite all of the hours spent he spent in that weight room before class, Floyd never used it as an excuse to avoid the gym after school. Floyd worked hard and grew into a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame that would allow him to play the game with a ferocity rarely seen at the receiver position. 

 "I think Michael appreciates the opportunity that he's had here," Cretin-Derham head coach Mike Scanlan said. "He's earned every consideration that he's been given." 

 And there have been many along the way. 

 The career of Michael Floyd will go down alongside all of the other great ones at Cretin-Derham. 

 Floyd became the first Raider to be offered a scholarship by Notre Dame before the start of his junior year. He went on to catch 63 balls for 1,240 yards and 16 touchdowns that season. 

 The September 1 offer was a signal that he was near the top of Notre Dame's wish list. When Floyd, his mom and assistant coach/dean of students Andy Bischoff arranged a Midwestern tour of colleges the summer between his junior and senior years, they made sure South Bend was on the itinerary. 

 Floyd entered his senior year as one of the most recognized prospects in the country and held scholarship offers from Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida along with the Irish and a host of others. 

 The two-time Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year capped his high school career with 59 catches for 1,247 yards and 17 touchdowns. He added three more rushing touchdowns and four more on punt returns. 

 "The only guys who got more attention than him were Mauer and Harris. I'd put him in that category," Scanlan said. "He's also one of the best basketball players that we've ever had." 

 Romero told her son that picking a school would ultimately be his decision and couldn't have been more proud of the way that he handled all of the attention. 

 "It was exciting because this kid was only 17 and he was making all of these grown-up decisions," she said. "I didn't know anything about college because that wasn't a part of my life. It's been awesome to see him make these decisions for himself." 

 Former Irish running back Rashon Powers-Neal and tight end Marcus Freeman also played prep ball for the Raiders, so Cretin-Derham is considered by many to be a Notre Dame pipeline. But Floyd was no Irish lock until he took his official visit senior year. 

 Three and a half years after that initial tour of Cretin-Derham, the mother of faith found herself on the grounds of yet another private Catholic campus. 

 But this time was different. It was October 20, 2007 and the mother-son duo were sitting alone in the office of Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello after the Irish had just suffered another blowout loss to rival Southern California. 

 But Romero and Floyd had seen more than a football game during that visit, and this time it was the mother who seemed to be pleading with the son. 

 "I shut the door and asked him if we stilled needed to go to Florida and he said no," Romero recalled. "I asked him if we still had to go to Ohio State and he reminded me that it was his decision. I told him he was right and backed off."

When Ianello came back into the room he gave Romero and her son a PowerPoint presentation of exactly what Floyd could expect if he decided on Notre Dame. 

 This was definitely different. There were no discussions about tuition. There was no mention of any work-study programs. Floyd would not be cleaning up any weight rooms at Notre Dame.

  At the end of Ianello's pitch Floyd excused himself - seemingly to go to the bathroom - but his real intentions were revealed moments later when Charlie Weis entered the office with a smile on his face and a tear in his eye to congratulate Ianello. 

 "We were confused and Coach Weis said that Michael had just told him that he was coming to Notre Dame," Romero said. 

 The visit was indeed different, but as mom looked to the doorway at her only son and thought back to how far they had come, the reaction was the same. 

 All Theresa Romero could do was cry.  Top Stories