Laurie Bollig

Perseverance and faith help write Te’o’s story

by Laurie Bollig January 10, 2013 in Football


Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was everywhere you looked – on every television channel up and down the dial, in every newspaper’s sports section, being interviewed on the radio, chatted about endlessly on social media and the subject of just about every water-cooler conversation.

There was a stretch of time in early December – when he was on the awards circuit – that he wasn’t exactly sure what city he was in when he woke up each morning.

It’s all good though. That’s the world of a collegiate sports superstar – someone whose life became an open book at the start of the 2012 football season and has steadily engaged fans with the turn of every page right up to the national championship game.

A design major, Te’o’s story this year has been well documented. Despite staggering personal loss, Te’o has managed to inspire many people with his perseverance and strong faith.

Te’o captains a unit that is ranked first nationally in scoring defense. He was a unanimous first-team All-American and won seven different post-season awards, including the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards. Te’o led the team in tackles with 103 – his third straight season with more than 100 tackles. He is the third leading tackler in Notre Dame history. His seven interceptions this season is tied for third in the FBS.

In the community, Te’o has participated in the Irish Experience League, which brings South Bend youth to campus to take part in activities with the Notre Dame student-athletes. He regularly visits hospitals and homeless shelters and is active in his local church.

Te’o has been a mainstay for the Irish for four years. His quiet demeanor and selfless acts didn’t seem to get as much attention before this season, but the story he told this year through his actions and his example helped bring into sharper focus an inspiring young man.