Jun 27, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Kory Minor, a 1999 graduate from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, is the CEO of Kory Minor Industries (KMI) which is a training and development company for individuals and organizations specializing in helping clients to Get Off the Sideline and Get Into the Game, by fostering the concept of WINNING everyday, a lesson you will find out shortly he learned from Coach Holtz. Trying to get his message out to young athletes and coaches, Kory has just put the finishing touches on his first book; Make a Touchdown of Your Life. For more information on Kory and to order his book, visit KoryMinor.com.
Do you remember Kory Minor? …I do…
When I was learning to love Notre Dame, the teams that Kory was a member of were the reason. If you don’t remember, Notre Dame defenses in the 90’s, more specifically the mid- to late-90’s were stout bunches. They thrived on pressuring the quarterback and not making mistakes, Kory was the commander of some of those squads.
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Kory to talk about a variety of things, from what he is doing now, to what he remembers about back then and about his speaking engagement on campus last week (the latter will be in a blog tomorrow).
Having always displayed a positive attitude and a calm persona when he was a student at Notre Dame, Kory had grown apart from the University and hadn’t been back on campus since 2005. His visit last week was a special one as he was able to see all the changes that had been made in and around campus and the opportunity he had to speak to members of the ‘Play Like A Champion’ conference on campus.
Kory accumulated 245 tackles, over 40 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks in his career at Notre Dame. His career sack mark is second on the all-time list, trailing only Justin Tuck in that category. When he arrived on campus in 1995, he came in with a stellar recruiting class that included the likes of Mike Rosenthal, Jerry Wisne, Jarious Jackson, Jamie Spencer, Autry Denson, Bobbie Howard, Benny Guilbeaux and Jimmy Friday.
“We were a close knit group when we came in back in 1995 and I still keep in contact with Jimmy Friday and Jamie Spencer. During my time here we all got along and we all truly cared about one another on and off the field. We were a class that was supposed to do more than we did, we had a decent four years, but we should have done a lot more. The times that we had and the sacrifices we made for one another, those times are invaluable.”
As many people know, when you’re entering college it can be a scary time. For Kory it is one of the stories he remembers the best:
“I remember like it was yesterday when we were freshman and went down to Culver Military Academy (Culver, Ind.) for camp. You can imagine 16-17 freshmen lined-up, shaking their heads, wishing they weren’t where they were. I remember calling my mom saying ‘Mom I want to go home.’ You can imagine it and that’s what it was like every single night. But we persevered and bonded together, got through it together and we all graduated. Some went on to the NFL, some went to law and graduate school and some did other things; but it was a great time.”
Kory was born in Inglewood, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. Moving to northern Indiana would be different than the California weather and culture he was used to being a part of.
“Coming from a very diverse high school in Los Angeles and then coming here, that’s pretty tough. That is probably the second-toughest thing about coming to Notre Dame. Number one was probably leaving my mom; people knew how close me and my mom were. We actually tried to get her to move here at one points, then I got here and I was like ‘Mom, stay where you are, I’m fine.”
The classroom dynamics at Notre Dame are much different than most other schools, not only are student-athletes living with non athletes sometimes, they are also expected to accomplish the same grade requirements as their fellow classmates.
“I knew I could compete on the field, but the toughest thing was competing in the classroom. I remember on my first day in class a guy raised his hand and asked a question and I was like ‘what did he just say?’ At that point I didn’t know if I would make it, I didn’t know how to dissect what he just said, I called my mom and said ‘It’s going to be a long four years.”
After getting through the initial culture shock about being a student at Notre Dame, Kory began to flourish in his second full year on campus.
“I realized that my education was all about my mental state. If I can compete and be successful on the football field, then I can do it in the classroom. I just needed to learn time management and how to balance football and my studies. Once I did that I became the student my mom always thought I could be.”
Throughout his time at Notre Dame, Kory had special relationships with many people in and around the campus. His relationship with Lou Holtz may have been the strongest.
“Coach Holtz and were and still are very close. The days go bye and you start to take those great relationships you have for granted. Then you think that he won’t be around forever. You try to recall all of his quotes and philosophies and you just can’t there are too many of them. Coach Holtz was a great guy and one of my best friends to this day.”
Coach Holtz has a plethora of stories and lessons that he would teach on a daily basis. Kory had a hard time remembering particular quotes, but has led his life after one of his favorite lessons that Coach Holtz taught him.
“Coach Holtz’s favorite acronym was WIN, ‘What’s Important Now’ – Whether you be in the classroom or at work, what you are doing at the present time is what you should be thinking about. Don’t be thinking about football when you are in class. You have to WIN and stay thinking about ‘what’s important now. That will always stay with me, just WIN.”
The Notre Dame community is a strong, tight-knit family that will revere you when you are up, try to pick you up when you are down and in the end thank you for your service and accomplishments while on campus. Kory was the epitome of class in his time at Notre Dame, never backing down from a challenge and always accepting what was placed in front of him.
“I remember after one game I met this family and they said, ‘meet our son Kory’ – ‘I said nice to meet you Kory’ – they said, ‘Yeah, we named him after you’ – I was like, ‘whoa’ – that’s not what you expect anyone to say. One of my favorite things is when people come up to me and say, ‘you were great on the field, but off the field your character was amazing. You made time for everybody, whether it was signing autograph’s or taking pictures…’ What people didn’t realize is that I was raised that way. Athletes are role models, whether you signed up for it or not. To have people embrace me both off the field and on, I am truly humbled by it.”
Albeit he hasn’t been back in almost a decade, Kory thinks about Notre Dame each and every day. Not just what he has done to help Notre Dame, but what Notre Dame has done to help shape his life.
“I look at my time at Notre Dame, and I’m an old ‘has been’ now, which is fine. Notre Dame has been so good to me, I’m in awe because they treated me and my family so well from the administration to my teachers to the coaching staff, alumni, South Bend and Notre Dame community, they all treated me great. I’m just thankful because they made me. It was them who fell in love with me and my play and my work in the community and I’m just thankful to be so blessed.”
FULL INTERVIEW VIDEO
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