I was a shy kid with few friends until I discovered sports. It turned out that I have a competitive streak which started with sports and evolved into academics. This led to my acceptance into the University of Notre Dame.
As a freshman at ND, I played a lot of basketball and through interdormitory competition I met some members of the varsity lacrosse team who were trying to recruit a backup goalie. Standing in front of hard object that’s moving 90+ mph is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’d never played before, but I picked up the game quickly, except for the goalie part. After a couple of weeks of praying that the opposing attackmen would not shoot on my goal, the starting goalie, Jerry Kammer, took me aside and said, “look Jim, there’s only one way to play goalie and that’s to will the opposing team to shoot at you … hard and often. Now, do you want to play goalie or try out for some other position?” Jerry was not the kind of guy you messed with and when I said I still wanted to be goalie he said something like, “OK, let’s see!” That day they made me stay after practice and had the four best shots on the team take turns pounding me with shots aimed at all different parts of my body. Honestly, I didn’t know I had it in me, but my adrenaline started pumping and I started blocking shots with every part of my body. After an hour of this, I was black and blue, but when Jerry put his arm around me and said, “good, now we have our backup goalie” it was truly one of the high points of my life.