Manti Te’o Sets An Example
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:10
In the midst of a modern sports environment where athletes’ characters are constantly coming into question, University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is the embodiment of what a true student athlete should be.
This season, Te’o has not only emerged as a superstar on the field, but also as the emotional leader of the Irish defense.
The week of the Irish’s game against Michigan State University, Te’o received tragic news that his grandmother had passed away. Less then 24 hours later, on Thursday morning, Te’o received another phone call, to learn that his girlfriend had also passed away from leukemia.
Despite the loss, Te’o chose to play in the game against the Michigan State Spartans that Saturday, fulfilling his late girlfriend’s wish that he would continue to play, even if something happened to her.
The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has begun to make their mark on college football this season, owing much of their success to a defense that is ranked second in the nation in points allowed per game. At the heart of this defense is Te’o.
Through all the tragedy that he has been dealt, Te’o has continued to have a positive attitude. His perseverance is one that should be emulated. Coping with the loss of two of the most important women in his life, Te’o displayed amazing emotional strength.
The weekend after Michigan State, during the Irish’s home game against the Univeristy of Michigan Wolverines, students wore leis to honor his heritage. Te’o played a phenomenal game, recording eight tackles and two interceptions. After the game finished, Te’o jumped into the stands where the student section was located. His fellow students embraced him as he deservedly earned the love of the school that he has represented so well for four years.
He is a devout Mormon who remains true to his values in a predominantly Catholic school, and has always been open about his religious views. He is respectful, yet confident, and remains humble despite the attention that has come to both him and his team this season.
Born in Laie, Hawaii, Te’o has quickly made a name for himself. This year especially, he has begun to gain some recognition nationally. Right now, he is possibly the only defensive player in a Heisman race that seems to be dominated by quarterbacks.
It’s hard to comprehend the degree of difficulty it must take to deal with the loss of one loved one, yet he dealt with the loss of two. Te’o not only made it through each day, but also continued to perform at a high level playing the game he loves. His resolve is commendable to say the least and there is no doubt that he will continue to impress fans. He will surely leave his impact not only on Notre Dame football, but also on college ahtletics as a whole.
Brice Kanehira is a freshman English major.