Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE 44 JUNE/JULY 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY JIM LEFEBVRE N otre Dame goes into the 2023 sea- son with a first-year offensive coordinator and special teams co- ordinator. Such is today's football land- scape, where coach and player move- ment is more frequent than ever before. There was a time, though, when it was possible for an assistant coach to be so valuable to a school as to survive one or more head coaching changes. At Notre Dame, Brian Boulac and George Kelly were two such assistants, both serving under Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Garry Faust. When Boulac came from Walla Walla, Wash., to Notre Dame as an 18-year- old freshman in 1959, he wore a leather helmet on the freshman team — one of the last vestiges of an earlier era, a link that goes back to Knute Rockne's time. Little could he have envisioned a future in which he would be involved with Notre Dame athletics for the next half-century. It became an incredible run in which he befriended, counseled and mentored countless Notre Dame students — athletes and others. After his playing days as a reserve end, Boulac remained at Notre Dame as a graduate assistant in 1963 under Hugh Devore and stayed on a year later to play a first-hand role in the dramatic turnaround brought on by the hiring of Parseghian. That started "Coach Bou" on a long career of coaching and athletic administration. From 1963-83, he served as an assis- tant coach to Devore, Parseghian, Devine and Faust. His roles included: grad assis- tant, administrative assistant, assistant freshman coach and position coach for the offensive line, defensive line, receiv- ers and special teams. He became the first assistant coach to serve as recruiting co- ordinator. He also became Notre Dame's first softball head coach (1989-92). In 1983, he went into athletic ad- ministration, serving several roles that connected him with hundreds of Fight- ing Irish student-athletes. The Bou- lac home became a popular haunt for Notre Dame students, with Brian and wife Micki acting as stand-in parents for many. The Boulacs had four daugh- ters of their own, all of whom earned degrees from Notre Dame. Boulac once reflected on his career by saying, "Being a Notre Dame em- ployee is not a job — it's a vocation. I've been blessed to share this with so many tremendous athletes and co-workers. I've been fortunate to live my dream for more than 50 years, and Notre Dame has given me so much more than I could ever give back." Boulac was honored with the Rockne Loyalty Award at the inaugural Knute Rockne Spirit of Sports Awards in 2017. His other awards included the James E. Armstrong Award for distinguished service to the university (2006). Upon his death in 2020 at the age of 79, director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said, "In his many roles over the years, Brian taught us what it means to be Irish. His commitment to excellence and his legacy of service to the athletics community at large will long be remembered." There are few who have done more over a longer period of time to earn the moniker Notre Dame Man. Kelly was a 1953 Notre Dame graduate whose football-playing days were cur- tailed by injuries. He immediately went into coaching at the new St. Joseph High School, becoming head football coach in 1954. That led to a stint as a Marquette University assistant from 1957-60, un- der two head coaches, before the pro- gram was discontinued. From the time he enrolled as a freshman at Notre Dame in 1959 through the 2008 season, Brian Boulac saw (or played in) every Notre Dame home football game for 50 consecutive seasons (282 games). He was a member of the Irish coaching staff for the national championship teams of 1966, 1973 and 1977, and became an athletic administrator at the school from 1983 to 2009. PHOTO COURTESY KNUTE ROCKNE MEMORIAL SOCIETY Two Longtime Assistant Coaches Who Became Notre Dame Mainstays

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