Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick President Joseph Long recently announced former Notre Dame All-American, NFL veteran, and College Football Hall of Famer Chris Zorich will be the principal speaker when the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick gather Saturday, March 17, for their 104th annual St. Patrick’s Day Banquet.
Zorich was born and raised on Chicago’s impoverished south side by his mother, Zora, a single parent surviving on $250 per month from public aid.
In 1987, Zorich received a football scholarship from coach Lou Holtz and the University of Notre Dame. He made history as part of Notre Dame football’s all-time winning streak with 23 consecutive wins. As a starter for Notre Dame, he compiled an impressive 33-4 record. He also was instrumental in helping Notre Dame win the National Championship in 1988.
Zorich was elected captain of the Fighting Irish football team his senior year and won numerous collegiate awards, including unanimous All-American titles (1989 and 1990), United Press International’s Lineman of the Year (1989), Chevrolet’s College Defensive Player of the Year (1989), the Lombardi Award (1990) and MVP of the Orange Bowl (1991). Zorich was a member of Walter Camp’s College Football All-Century Team (2000) and Sports Illustrated’s All-Time Notre Dame Team (2006). He was also named one of the top 10 greatest Notre Dame football players by Athlon Sports (2011). In 2007, Zorich became one of the youngest players to ever be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was inducted into the FedEx Orange Bowl Hall of Fame for his outstanding performances in back-to-back Orange Bowl appearances (1990 and 1991).
Following his 1991 graduation from Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears and averaged 100-plus tackles per season, finishing his career with the Washington Redskins.
In 1993, The Christopher Zorich Foundation was established to honor Chris’ mother, Zora Zorich, who passed away during his senior year at Notre Dame. The Foundation’s programs offered diverse community support, youth programs and scholarships, including a scholarship at Notre Dame. In 1998, The University of Notre Dame commissioned The Christopher Zorich Award to recognize the contributions of student athletes to the university and the community at-large.
In 2002, he completed his law degree at Notre Dame Law School and began working for the Chicago law firm of Schuyler Roche, P.C., working closely with the city of Chicago and the Chicago Housing Authority.
He also is a nationally acclaimed motivational speaker.
In 2008, Zorich returned to Notre Dame and became the manager for Student Welfare & Development and manager for Youth Programming & Community Outreach for the University of Notre Dame’s Athletic Department, responsible for directing the university’s multi-million dollar summer sports camps.
In 2008, he was appointed to The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an organization that advocates to influence and reform various issues plaguing college sports, including recruiting practices, gender equity and academic eligibility.
He has also served as a board member for various non-profit organizations including The Joffrey Ballet and the Chicago Public Library.
Recognized for his fierce commitment on and off the playing field, Zorich has received a score of athletic and community service awards including: the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award for Community Service, and USA Weekend’s “Most Caring Athlete,” the Jesse Owens Foundation’s “Humanitarian Award” and a humanitarian award from Muhammad Ali.
Currently, Zorich is the director of athletics at Prairie State College (PSC), a community college 30 miles outside of Chicago. At PSC, he is responsible for all decisions pertaining to the athletic department and is the catalyst for rebuilding the school’s academic services program for its student athletes.
He resides in Chicago with his wife and stepdaughter.
The 104th annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner will be held Saturday, March 17, at the Woodlands Inn and Resort. Tickets are available from any Friendly Son or can be purchased Thursday evenings at the Pittston Knights of Columbus.
Greater Pittston Friendly Sons also will sponsor their first women’s breakfast at 9:30 a.m. the morning of St. Patrick’s Day. The event will be at the Cosgrove Center of the Greater Pittston Memorial Library. Tickets are $20 for a buffet style breakfast and are available from any Friendly Son and Thursday evenings at the Pittston Knights of Columbus.