Football standout McBride returns to campus, bringing sports to children

Author: Gene Stowe

Oscar McBride, Play Like A Champion Today

Oscar McBride played like a champion at Notre Dame, a four-year letterman and senior on the 1993 team that beat Florida State only to see a national title snatched away by a loss the week later.

He’s back.

McBride is now associate director of Play Like a Champion Today, coaching coaches, parents and youth sports administrators on the critical role of athletics to help kids move ahead.

“It’s been great coming back—to be able to work for the university,” says McBride, who came back to campus for a Play Like a Champion Today conference in 2008, his first visit since graduating 14 years earlier.

He recalls marveling at the new Eck Center, the fledgling Eddy Street Commons, the disappearance of Juniper Street and the transformation of Flanner and Grace, where he once ran the halls, into administrative offices.

“It’s truly amazing,” says McBride, who visited the familiar Linebacker on that trip. “It brought back so many great memories of being on campus in the summer and working out. It was great.”

The route back for the Florida native after Notre Dame was a continent-wide circle.

He played for Arizona Cardinals for two years, then the Kansas City Chiefs for a year, then moved to southern California with his wife Kelley daughter Alexa and son Blake, now accomplished teenaged scholar-athletes.

McBride got an entry-level sales job, worked his way up the wholesale side of mortgage banking and consulting, and was just starting a mortgage-related business with partners when the market cratered.

“I decided to go back into football,” he says. “I knew that. It wasn’t market-driven. It wasn’t dependent on someone to tell me what the market value was. I could be around young people.”

He took a job as a football coach and teacher at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. At the end of his first year, he sat in the front row at a Play Like a Champion Today workshop during a National Catholic Educators Association conference in Anaheim.

Director Clark Power recognized him from the Notre Dame years and introduced him to program director Kristin Sheehan. That led to the 2008 visit to Notre Dame.

McBride became a consultant for the organization and the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), giving clinics for parents, coaches and administrators. Last fall, he accepted the position of associate director.

“You don’t say no to Notre Dame,” he explains. “I didn’t say no when I was 17, and I wasn’t saying no at 38.”

McBride, who has given presentations including school assemblies in California, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Illinois, monitors the agency’s online program that provides courses for coaches and athletic administrators. He also writes for the blog.

Last summer, he went to Uganda with Kevin Dugan, director of men’s lacrosse at Notre Dame, and taught flag football to children along with leadership and good decision-making.

“The platform of Play Like a Champion gives me an opportunity to coach and mentor young people,” says McBride, who still coaches in California and chairs the non-profit Fit4Life Youth Foundation. “It also gives me an opportunity to mentor coaches and athletic administrators.”

The message of sports is more important than ever, he says, because technology is keeping children indoors and isolated.

“You can’t do that in sports,” McBride says. “You can’t text-message practice, you can’t email drills. You have to physically be there. You have to be face-to-face. You have to have that interpersonal communication that a lot of kids don’t have.”