Len Clark on the right with book illustrator Jared Basker on the left and Jim “Augie” Augustine, center (Courtesy Photo)

Another episode of “The Clarkives”.

(Excerpt from Teddy and the Gipper: A Notre Dame Friendship By Len Clark, Ph.D)

“I’m George Gipp,” the tall football player said, as he stuck his hand out to shake Teddy’s. “I’m Teddy, Teddy Flynn, and this is my dog Snacks,” he said.

“Nice to meet you, Teddy,” said Gipp. “You, too, Snacks,” as he patted the little dog on the head.”Ruff,” Snacks barked as he stuck out his paw to say “hello.” “Say, I haven’t seen you two around here before,” Gipp said.

“We just moved here yesterday from Chicago and we’re staying with my Grandma Flynn,” said Teddy, as he sadly looked down toward the ground.”“Well, we’re going to have to do something about that and welcome you to the neighborhood and Notre Dame,” Gipp said.

“If you can wait for practice to get over, I’ll buy you a root beer and show you and Snacks around campus,” he added.”Really?” beamed Teddy. “That’ll be swell.”

Teddy then asked about the man with the whistle.

“Why, that’s Coach Rockne,” said Gipp. “He’s the best coach in college football.”“Coach Rockne? That’s Knute Rockne!” said Teddy with excitement.

Now, Teddy knew all about Coach Rockne from the stories his dad told him about how he helped Notre Dame beat Army in 1913 using the forward pass.

“Is that really him?” Teddy asked. Gipp assured him that it was and said, “Come on, I’ll introduce you and Snacks to him.”

So, Teddy and Snacks met Coach Rockne, who invited them to watch practice from the sideline as the team went through their drills.The charismatic football coach shouted out instructions and gave demonstrations during the practice, while Snacks, acting like the coach, barked out plays and chased loose footballs. After the last whistle of practice was blown, each player came over to meet Snacks and to introduce themselves to Teddy.

Coach Rockne then walked over to give Snacks a scratch behind the ear. He then said, “Teddy, Snacks gave me an idea for a running play that we’re going to use this coming season against Kalamazoo, and for helping us out and giving me the idea, I’d like to give you this football.”

Notre Dame opened the 1919 football season at home at Cartier Field, where they defeated the Kalamazoo College Hornets 14-0. The first points of the season were set up by a long run by George Gipp.

“A football for me? Really, for keeps?” Teddy said. “Gee, thanks, wait until Jimmy sees this!” “You’re welcome, sport,” said Coach Rockne. “I’d also like to invite you and Snacks to be my guests at the opening game.”

“Gee whiz!” said Teddy with excitement. “I’ve never been to a football game before. Thank you, Mr. Rockne.”

Len Clark, Ph.D.

I hadn’t planned on starting to write a book last fall, but it saved my life.

Four days before the Notre Dame-Navy game in Dublin, I was informed that I was being ‘let go,’ effective upon my return from Ireland by the media organization I represented.

With no income, I was hurt financially and unable to do the things I needed to help my mother, or pay bills.

Trying to figure out what to do on a daily basis proved to be a mental challenge as I had covered Notre Dame daily, since I was asked to return by the media organization I represented and left my teaching position at Virginia Tech.

At least I had a roof over my head and something to eat, but I starting sinking into a dark place as I was supposed to be helping my mother. Not the other way around.

I was also looking for ways to get back to a new sense of normal.

Bob Lovell, host of Indiana Sports Talk, a statewide radio show, was instrumental in helping me get credentialed again after I had missed the Tennessee State game.

Teaching a course in mobile storytelling for the Irish Academy of Public Relations, and substitute teaching in the Portage Township School system also gave me something to keep me going.

However, it was a story I had dabbled writing five years earlier that proved to be the main thing that heled me mentally deal with the challenges I was facing, and allowed me escape ”life” for a few hours each week.

As I tried to piece myself back together, I met a South Bend artist who was selling his prints at Augie’s Locker Room. Jared Basker and I hit it off immediately, and I knew he would be someone who could help me with my book project.

I explained my book and how I wanted it to be different from other books written about Notre Dame.

The first thing I told Jared was that there are many books that have great illustrations; however, they sit in closed books on shelves. I wanted his illustrations to be seen and to remind people of the story.

We agreed that an eBook paired with an artistic print was the way to begin, followed by a more traditional paperback book with illustrations.

Teddy and The Gipper: A Notre Dame Friendship is a book of historical fiction that tells the story of Teddy and his dog, Snacks, and their Notre Dame experience and how it helped him achieve his goals as an educator.

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ‘Four Horseman’ and Grantland Rice’s famous lede, the book will take you back to the golden age of Notre Dame football.

My goal with the book is to enhance your knowledge of Notre Dame football history and to help you better understand the Notre Dame experience.

It was said that, at one time, the ‘Sun Never Set on the British Empire.’ The closest entity to even come close to such a global affinity is Notre Dame. Notre Dame, with its educational global gateways located around the world and its network of alumni, casts a footprint over the globe.

Another thing that helped me escape the darkness of mental issues was you. People like you, with a love for Notre Dame and eager to tell your story, kept me inspired and as I wrote the book, I kept you in mind.

The easy part is over – writing the book. Now the hard part comes – promoting the book.

The eBook and art print will make its debut at Augie’s Locker Room on Saturday, April 20th at 9 AM ET. Jared and I will be there to sign copies of the original art print and to talk about our experiences, in addition to hearing your Notre Dame stories.

A print version of the book will be available around the start of football season.

If you can’t make it and would be interested in purchasing the eBook and art print, click on the following link – https://forms.gle/gH4Cw2vD4sg33UcX9

There are also options to donate a $1 to various organizations in the book, and I am looking at finding a mental health association to support.

I hope to see you at Augie’s on Saturday.

Go Irish!

ByLen Clark Ph.D.

Len Clark Ph.D. of Irish 101, a veteran journalist and noted expert on cutting edge media technologies. Len continues to serve as a frequent consultant and occasional contributor to FIP.

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