Q & A with former athlete Alan George

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By The Staff

Alan George is a 2001 graduate of Marion County High School. He is currently the assistant sports information director at the University of Notre Dame.   What sports did you play while you were at MCHS? What positions?

I caught passes from Scott Higdon and sacked quarterbacks with David Knopp as a four-year member of the football team. It was also my pleasure to watch Marlis Scott school opponents on the hardwood night after night from the best seat in the house - right next to Danny Marks and Josh McKay. They even let me play in a few games.

Which sport did you prefer?

Sometimes I wish Coach Chad Spalding had talked me into playing high school baseball. Chewing gum, spitting seeds and tossing the rock around is right up my alley. But for a guy with a figure unsuited for pinstripes who can't hit a curveball, I did Coach Spalding a favor and stuck to sports at which I was at least decent.

Besides, by the time basketball season ended I was usually worried about nothing more than making good grades and being home before curfew. 

So, in short, football was my sport of preference.   What have you been doing post graduation?

A coach from Centre College called me one day and said they needed one more person for their football team. Having the opportunity to play for a storied program that claimed the mythical 1919 national championship was too good to pass. Football opened the door for me to attend a great school and receive an unparalleled education.

After four years of the institution's finest mediocrity they gave me a diploma (perhaps more out of sympathy than necessity). I spent the next summer working as an operations intern for the Lexington Legends. That Centre education paid off, as I perfected the art of standing on a busy street corner in a hot dog costume for one of the hottest Kentucky summers on record. 

The sports information director at Western Kentucky was in town and saw me on the corner. He must have felt sorry for me and asked if I'd like to work for him. I said yes, packed my air mattress and toothbrush, thanked my cousin for letting me sleep on his dining room floor for the last three months, and moved to Bowling Green. 

For the following two years I was a graduate assistant in the WKU athletic media relations office. This entailed sitting courtside at basketball games while typing a handful of notes, keeping stats at softball games with an unlimited supply of ballpark food, and attending the occasional class. As a reward for eating nine hot dogs during a nine-inning Hilltopper baseball game, they gave me a master's degree in sport administration.

A few weeks later, two friends from Mexico flew up for a visit. We bought three cars and decided to each drive back to Mexico. On the way down, I got a call from the sports information director at Notre Dame. She had heard about my nine-inning hot dog performance and asked if I'd like to work for their office. I said yes, continued the five-day drive to Cancun, took a shower and flew to Kentucky. Two days later I was living in South Bend.

I guess you can say that hot dogs got me to where I am today. 

What have some of your biggest accomplishments been on the field since you moved on from MCHS?

One time I ... snuck into - and out of - Cuba ... camped out on top of a Mayan ruin for three days ... swam with sharks in Belize and was stranded in Playa Del Carmen for a week with no money and a bag of nachos ... had the painful duty of being the personal assistant - on separate occasions - for both the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Erin Andrews ... ate a 64-ounce steak and then topped it off with a brownie for dessert ... traveled to Europe on an expired passport, then disobeyed the signs at the Vatican and took a picture within the walls of the Sistine Chapel ... played golf with Ara Parseghian and Joe Theismann ... drove 15 hours to Tampa to referee a college basketball tournament, and then turned around and drove 15 hours back to Kentucky after the final horn sounded ... umpired a Little League baseball game on national television ... covered a hockey tournament in Chicago, attended a wedding in Los Angeles, blogged for our swim team's winter training trip in Puerto Rico and kept stats for a basketball game in South Bend all in the same week ... peppered with beach volleyball legend Karch Kiraly ... was held at gunpoint by a group of Zapatistas in Chiapas ... officiated a basketball game with Michael Jordan sitting in the front row ... had lunch with the president of ESPN ... provided stats and notes for Dick Vitale during a college basketball game ... and wore nothing but a pair of Speedos and a smile on a nude beach in Italy.

It saddens me that I've never caught a foul ball or home run at a baseball game. I need to check that one off my list.

What are your future plans?

Work is a relative term. I have not worked one single day since graduating.

I get paid to watch sports, and hope to continue doing so for a long, long time.

Any favorite memories from your playing days as a Knight?

High school athletics afforded me the opportunity to play with and against a number of incredible student-athletes, many of which are competing at the professional level today. Our teams were able to grace facilities such as Cardinal Stadium, Papa John's Stadium and Memorial Coliseum (the 1999-2000 basketball squad fell just short of a trip to the Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena). I was also fortunate enough to play with the Kentucky All-Stars in the Down Under Bowl in Gold Coast, Australia.

The football team won just a single game my senior year, a four-overtime showdown at Madison Southern, which was one of the bright spots in the fall of 2000. I pulled my groin the week before the final game of the season, and resorted to applying an uncomfortable amount of Icy Hot to the area before, during and after practices. Trying to tough it out, I went without the treatment the night of that last game at McCreary Central. Somewhat defeated, I headed to the sideline during the game to slap on a healthy dose of Icy Hot. On the very next play a teammate broke loose and was headed for the end zone. With one hand in my pants and the other giving the No. 1 sign in the air, I sprinted back onto the field to snap the ball for the extra point attempt.

I will never forget the smell of the football locker room, watching a coach launch a training table during a halftime speech, a bus ride when a freshman tried chewing tobacco for the first time, Bell's Bakery after Friday night games, two-a-day practices and the first time I checked into a varsity basketball game (P.A. Jerry Reynolds: "... into the Marion County lineup, Big Al George").

If there were any piece of advice you could pass down to current and future Knights and Lady Knights, what would it be?

Be proud of where you come from. Stay in your lane. Ask too many questions. Say "please" and "thank you". Drink plenty of milk and eat your vegetables. If someone asks you to wear a hot dog outfit, do it.