Jack Nolan lives out his dream at Notre Dame
For 37 years Jack Nolan has been calling Notre Dame men's basketball games. He says the job is his dream job and he has been preparing for it his whole life.
Allison Hayes: What is that feeling that you get when you call a big play or when Notre Dame pulls off an upset?
Jack Nolan: It is as close to playing as you can get if you're not good enough to play at that level and if you do a moment justice, you help elevate a moment even more.
Nolan's path to elevating the moments at Notre Dame has not been by chance.
Allison: Did you ever imagine that you would be doing what you're doing; play by play voice, traveling the world with Notre Dame?
Nolan: I dreamed of announcing games from the time I was very, very young. I played sports but I always thought that I would be announcing games.
Nolan grew up in Massachusetts with a love for his Boston teams and a dream of growing up to be like his favorite broadcaster.
Nolan: I used to stay home on Friday nights, and believe it or not, there was a time when every game wasn't on TV, and I would listen to Johnny Most call at home. And when I got older I started bringing tape recorders with me to Fenway Park and Boston Garden and I would announce the games. I had a friend who had season tickets about 8 rows behind the 3rd base dugout at Fenway so we would call games there. We would sneak up to the upper press box at Boston Garden and call games there. And sometimes I would just sit in my seats. One time in 1976, I got tickets for the entire NBA playoffs and that's through the finals, 13 potential games for $68. I was in the 3rd balcony. I sat in section 101, seat 1, row 1. And I would announce the games and at first people would be like 'This kid, what is he doing?' But then it got to the point that I would hand out stats and they once grabbed my tape recorder and played my tape on the train on the way home. So I wanted to do that for a long time.
His amateur training put him in position to follow his dream. He played basketball in high school and went on to the University of Missouri, one of the top broadcasting schools in the country.
"Your Columbia sports connection.' That was my tag line and that was terrific. As a matter of fact, Bob Costas was just starting and he did it for KMOX and he would sit at the other end of the sofa and I would sit here and we both used 'Bang,' which was a Johnny Most term and I beat him with a 'Bang' one night and he kind of glared at me. It was just a wonderful experience," Nolan said.
From Missouri, Nolan got his first job at CNN where he interviewed people like Pete Rose.
In less than a year, he landed in South Bend.
"First game that I called was Notre Dame vs Purdue in Notre Dame Stadium, September 14th, 1982. And I predicted that Notre Dame would win 28-0 and they did and I have not predicted a game since," Nolan said.
Along this path of having his dream job, he also found his dream girl. In 1985, Jack met Rhonda Brown, a weather forecaster at a local TV station. About 8 months later the two were married and have made South Bend their forever home.
"I would be lost without her and she would be lost without me. She is just a terrific person and really the reason I do anything I do now is to help our relationship and to give her a good life when she finally retires," Nolan said.
Nolan isn't ready to retire anytime soon. He has gone on to call hundreds of Irish games and now works for the university with Fighting Irish Media
He has hosted countless charity events and even been given an honorary monogram, hosts the new Notre Dame football post-game show and continues to host the coaches shows.
He has covered Notre Dame for nearly four decades and practically seen it all from Lou Holtz to Brian Kelly, Digger Phelps to Mike Brey - it's the relationships that stand out the most.
"Mike Brey. I don't think I've ever been closer to a guy than Mike Brey. That's not me, that's Mike. Because Mike is friends with everyone he works with and he has just been terrific. And that scene from that movie about the President, 'Will you take a bullet for him?' I'd take a bullet for Mike Brey. I'd take a bullet for most of the guys, but especially for Mike Brey," Nolan said.
While those days with the tape recorder may seem like a lifetime ago, little Jack's dream has come true.
"I listen to some of the old tapes now and I say 'I was pretty good.' And hopefully I still am," Nolan said.