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Sept. 14, 2021

Leadership Focusing on the Recipe of People Plus Culture = Results

Leadership Focusing on the Recipe of People Plus Culture = Results

This episode takes a slightly different angle and that is hearing from a student-athlete who was significantly impacted by his teachers and coaches in high school, college, and even all the way up into the NFL.

Dan Santucci was officially appointed President of St. Patrick High School in Chicago in July 2021. Santucci graduated from St. Pat’s in 2002 and went on to become a 4-year letterman playing FB for Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In 2007, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and upon retiring from the NFL, went back to work in various roles at Notre Dame. However, thanks to the strong relationships he established at St. Pat’s, he has come full circle and now looks forward to impacting the young men at Chicago's oldest high school in the profound ways he was as student.

Dan has a great story to tell that includes hard work, loving mentors, lasting impacts of legendary coaches like Charlie Weiss & Marvin Lewis, and how he plans to pay-it-forward and impact the lives he's now tasked to lead.

Episode Links:

Saint Patrick High School

Dan Santucci Contact Info

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LukeMertens44@gmail.com

Twitter: @LukeMertens

IG: LukeMertens44

LinkedIn Profile

Transcript

Luke:

On today's episode of the I and win.

Dan Santucci:

more than anything, coach, it was knowing that no matter what I did on the field, I knew that my high school coaches that they loved me they cared about me as a person and they knew I gave it my all and they were going to have my back.

Luke:

Excited to share this episode because it takes a slightly different angle. And that is looking through the lens of a student athlete who was significantly impacted by his teachers and coaches in high school, college, and even all the way up into the NFL. Dan Santucci is the newly appointed president of St. Patrick high school in Chicago. Santucci graduated from St. Pat's in 2002 and went on to become a four year Letterman playing football at Notre Dame. In 2007, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and upon retiring from the NFL a few years, went back to work in various roles at Notre Dame. However, thanks to the strong relationships he established at St. Pats, he has now come full circle and looks forward to impacting the young man at the north side high school in the profound ways he was as a student. Dan has a great story to tell that includes hard work, loving mentors and lasting impacts of legendary coaches like Charlie Weiss and Marvin Lewis. Full disclosure. I was lucky enough to be one of his coaches in high school. However, this is not my story. It's his, and I hope you enjoy. Okay, welcome to the show. And I have to start with your path and it's been a very similar path of many athletes. You were living in hoop dreams, and you thought you were going to duke, right? You thought you were the next Michael Jordan only to find out that really your path was going to lead you to playing division one football and eventually into the NFL. So when did you realize that the hoop dreams were dead and football was actually your future?

Dan Santucci:

You know, coach, I, I came in as a freshman at St. Pat's and obviously grew up playing three sports, baseball, football, basketball, um, came here wanting to play all three and was a decent athlete at all. Um, but then it was, you know, I have to, I have to turn it back to the coaches and the people I met while I was at St. Pat's, who kind of guided me, you know, and it starts with coach Russ Lucas, who is a long time Shamrock. You know, he always had the fire around football. He, um, he was great at making boys young men and he just, you had his support, you knew he loved you and cared about you. And he always kind of told me in my head that, you know, he thought football would be the place for me, you know, down the road. So I kinda took that to heart, but I, I also still loved, you know, baseball, basketball, and then honestly it was. You yourself and coach Harrington, John Harrington came to Pat's and we saw the fire that you guys brought from, you know, your college experience. You guys just graduated, came back to coach us and really showed us that, you know, workout routine and work ethic and what it took to get to the next level. And I fully embraced that and I said, you know what? I think I have a shot. And, uh, soon after that I got my first letter as a, as a rising junior from Stanford. I'll never forget it handwritten from Mike Dembrock. And that really kind of took the fire to the next level where I said, Okay. I'm going all in. So that's when I kinda gave up basketball And baseball or just focused on football.

Luke:

And one thing throughout your career, you've always referenced your high school coaches as giving you that great foundation to your career in ultimately the NFL and at Notre Dame. So what is it that your high school coaches instilled in?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah. So, I mean, for sure work ethic, right? I was, I was the first one in my self and my best friend, Tim McGarigle. Um, you know, we were brothers here at St Pat's and we were the first in the weight room first in? the building sometimes, you know, we'd be standing at the door at 6:00 AM and we were the last ones to leave. So the coaches definitely instilled work ethic. They instilled, um, dealing with adversity. You know, through ups and downs throughout our career, just always looking past that commitment. And then just knowing that we had their support more than anything, coach, it was knowing that no matter what I did on the field, I knew that my high school coaches And I named them before that they loved me. They cared about me as a person and they knew I gave it my all and they were going to have my back.

Luke:

And that leads us through the recruiting process. It's it's a fascinating process. And my first question. Did you find that process to be enjoyable or was it stressful.

Dan Santucci:

You know, at first it was, it was definitely exciting, whenever you're, you're wanted, for lack of better terms, it's, uh, you know, you feel good And, you want to go through it. But then as I started to enter my senior year, I had to go to camps. You know, I wasn't a top five star recruit. I. I was fortunate enough that I've got to play against some great players in our conference at joy Catholic, you know, going against Mike Cologgi, who he had a scholarship already from Michigan. I played well against him. and I think that's really what put me on the map. And, uh, I had some coaches come in here, one being Greg Madison, who's still a dear friend to me today, you know, came into St. Pat's, talked to me and said, Hey, I need you to come to the camp. I need to see you run. I need to see you jump. I need to see you play on the field for us to be able to move forward. And I took that and embraced it and, asked my dad at the time, said that, I know it's $350, which was a lot of money, but he said, no, go for it. this is your opportunity. So. Went to that camp and perform well, you know, coach, you know, it is it's. If I would've gone to that camp and ran a bad 40, I wouldn't be at Notre Dame. So God was with me that night. I tested, well, I had a great camp and before I left, they offered me a full ride to the University of Notre Dame and changed my life forever.

Luke:

And, and what a great story and your reference coach Madison. I was lucky to get to meet coach. He was recruiting one of my linebackers and he came in and we just sat down. He started telling stories. Is he not the best storytellers?

Dan Santucci:

He is unbelievable. The stories he told. I'll never forget. He came to my house, on a recruiting trip. And my dad, you know, my mom made dinner and my dad gave him his homemade wine. And he, if there's not a guy out there that, you know, he could convince any kid to go play at Notre Dame from the stories he told from where he came from, the type of man he was. I mean, like you said, he's coached at every level and has been successful, um, before retiring, you know, at Ohio. Last year. So just a great man, a tough coach though. I mean, coach, he had me at one time at Notre Dame, my sophomore year where he brought me to tears. I literally went back to my dorm room and said, I don't know if I want to play football anymore because you know, I was on a, I just gave a bunch of weight. We were inside Loftus. It was hot and humid. And we were on a 16 play drive and I could barely walk and he would go to the film room and he starts shining that red laser on me. And it just keeps going back and forth and I'm like, oh man, what is he going to say? And before you know it, he says, Sarah goes, we offered you a scholarship. He goes, you better take that back to old St. Patrick's. That's what he told me.

Luke:

Okay.

Dan Santucci:

And I coach, coach, I walk out and I go back to my room and I'm like, I don't know if this is for me, but you know what? It made me stronger. And again, back to the people I knew, he loved me. I knew he cared about me. He just wanted me to get better.

Luke:

And what was it that ultimately led you to choosing Notre Dame?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah. So when I came home from that camp, with that scholarship, I showed my old man who was planting flowers on the corner, you know, never went to college. And when he read that letter, he, it brought tears to his eyes. He couldn't believe it. And, uh, then I walked inside and I, I went to my brother who I look up to and my brother was four years older than me went to St. Pat's what the university of Chicago really look up to him. He was not a Notre Dame fan, but when he read that letter, he said, that's it. He goes, you have to go to Notre Dame. The academics, the Catholic mission, and obviously the great football program. There's no better place. And be at two hours from home, definitely helped as well. So, you know, like I said, it was a dream come true to be able to go to the university of Notre Dame and get a great education and plays football at a high level.

Luke:

And then halfway through Notre Dame career, at least I think it was about halfway through you go. You go through a coaching change, which is really difficult and incomes, Charlie Weiss just coach Tom Brady, multiple super bowl championships. What was that experience like to go through this coaching change and to have such a high profile coach?

Dan Santucci:

No, that's a great question. And it actually started, you know, even when I was offered by Bob baby, you know, if you remember, he was, he was released before I even started school. So again, Greg Madison kept that together and then coach Willingham came in and I was recruited as the defensive end, which soon became a detective. You know, and I, I did that for three years with coach Willingham and coach Madison, and then I moved to offensive line. So coach, I I'm in my third year, I I'm just starting to feel comfortable at the D line. And I have coach Willingham telling me, all right, we gotta put you off offensive line. Cause we need some help there. And of course, I bought in, I said, Hey, he's got my best interest. Coach Madison said the same thing. So I went all in on that. Worked hard at, it, played a little bit my junior year and then coach Willingham gets released and here comes coach Weiss. Um, and, and, you know, at first it was, it was intimidating knowing, his background and where he came from. But I, I had a gut feeling. He was going to be the type of coach. He was going to play the best guy. And I was excited for that opportunity because I knew if I worked hard and I showed him what I could do on the field. And then he could trust me that I'd have an opportunity to play. And I was fortunate enough because we had some great talent. He came in and he did just that he started all over. And I mean, it was the hardest spring ball. Um, you could ever imagine, because that was kind of like our mini training camp before we started.

Luke:

And that foundation was established with your high school coaches. How did the staff. And the coaches at Notre Dame. When, I mean staff, I know you have a support system of, of tutors and athletic trainers. How did that entire Notre Dame staff help build upon that foundation that was created at the high school?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, they were, they were phenomenal, you know? And like you said, it definitely started at the high school level because I've always believed that the coach has had my best interest at heart. And I, and I started at St. Pat's and then at Notre Dame, I knew that when they asked me to move to offensive line, they saw something in me. You know, I went through 3 0-line coaches. I knew that the next one coming in was teaching me something that they saw would work with my skillset. I had two strength coaches. I knew the same thing. Hey, there's a reason why this change is being made. So just having that mindset of, Hey, you got to jump on the train, you know, there's no time to sit back and feel bad for yourself. Um, so yeah, the support structure at Notre Dame. From the coaches, the teachers, uh, the training staff, you know, but it all goes back to the person. Uh, you know, you gotta take the time, the best in yourself. You got to build those relationships because once you do that, I, I know that they're there for you.

Luke:

And you gave some great insight to coach Madison. He's a college football legend and. No about the person, beyond just the coach. What about coach Weis? And he's a very popular figure. One that walking down the street, everyone knows who he is. Right. Especially if he has all that, all the bling on his fingers, but what was he like? What was he like as a person? And how did he specifically help impact you to become a better person and a better man.

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, coach Weiss was a no nonsense guy. But he had a huge heart. And I'll tell you a story. I mean, people could say what they want about coach Weis, who didn't really know him. I knew coach Weis, everyone that played for a new coach Weiss and the guy cared about you as an individual. And what I mean by that is if you did what he asked of you, he would take his time. Is back at any time to go to bat for you? Um, whether that was something in the classroom, whether there was something that you were dealing with off the field, he was there for you. And I'll never forget this. You know, there was a, a young boy in south bend who is battling cancer. Coach Weis went to the boy's house, sat there for over four hours to meet with all the family friends and to talk to this boy. And he said, Hey, you know, son, I want you to call our first play at her next game. And the kids said, all right, I want to call bootleg. Right. You know, Brady Quinn bootleg. Right. And throw it to the tight end. So sure enough, we go play Washington and in the opening kickoff, we muff it and ends up being on the one yard line. And we're all looking at each other like holy cow. There's is he really going to call the play? You know, we're, we're backed up. Sure enough, the play comes in and we're running a bootleg and Brady Quinn's got thrown at a tight end and. Fasano catches it leaps over a guy on the sideline 12 yard gain. And, and I just, I share that story because that just shows the type of man coach Weis was he, he stuck to his word and he really had a big heart.

Luke:

Thanks for sharing that store. I, I was trying to think of the right word to describe how I'm feeling after hearing that, because I have goosebumps on the back of my neck, but just, just awesome to hear. And thanks for sharing that story about. Coach Weiss. We probably never, would've known, unfortunately, in today's world, the media, I always pick up on stories like that. They, they focus on, oh, the win-loss record, for example. So man is S speak volumes about him as a human given the high stakes pressure, being the head coach at university Notre Dame packed up on your one yard line against an elite program like that. And the call that, that, that's just awesome. So.

Dan Santucci:

It was true. It was true. I'll never forget.

Luke:

I don't blame you. I wouldn't either. And I'm sure coach Weis never forgot it either. So, so follow my Notre Dame. You live out pretty much every kid's dream that it's ever put a helmet on and you're drafted into the NFL. Did you see the same commitment from NFL coaches that you saw from your high school and your college coaches in terms of. This is about making an impact on human beings and we want to make better people. Or our NFL coaches just locked into the business side of things. And unfortunately, it's, about wins.

Dan Santucci:

So, yeah, let's be clear. I mean, the NFL is a, you know, not for long industry. It's definitely. You know, what, what have you done lately? And success is important, but I was fortunate the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a great organization. Again, they cared about the person, right? For my line coach, Paul Alexander, uh, you know, I, I'm an undersized offensive lineman. You know, he has the vision to play me at center. Took a lot of time to work with me. He vested in me, you know, the Bengals were big on, you know, the players, they drafted, they wanted to work with them. They wanted to make it work. They really took that serious. And I was very lucky. And Marvin Lewis was the head coach at the time, again, uh, another great man who really cared about the person. And like I said, The tough decisions have to be made because you have to win or else you're going to get released But again, a quick story. I haven't talked to coach Marvin Lewis in four or five years. I'm getting ready to go watch the Cincinnati Bengals play the Indianapolis Colts Colson. And I have coach coaches number in my phone and I shoot him a text. I'm going to take my two boys and I showed them a picture of us. And I say, coach, I'm coming down with my son, Johnny and Luke. And just wishing you luck. I hope you have a, I hope you have a great season. He texted me right back. I mean, coach, I wasn't expecting anything. He text me Right. back. He goes, do you have sideline passes? And I said, I said, no, I don't have sideline passes. I just put, bought the tickets on Stub Hub, you know? And he goes, well, he goes, Dan, I'm going to have three sideline passes for ya. You know, you make sure you go to the front and take care of your kids and I'll see on the sideline. And sure enough, we pull up the, you know, we're at Lucas oil and we get our tickets. We go down the sideline, there's coach Lewis and gives me a big hug. And again, coaches, it's about the people and I've been fortunate enough and I've been blessed to be around great people, no matter how high the stakes are.

Luke:

I went to a coaching clinic and heard coach Lewis speak. Although it was supposed to be a schematic talk. He and I had spent the entire hour about off the field and his commitment to take in these young men who suddenly have millions of dollars dumped on their lap. And his commitment to just educating them in life. It was just a fascinating conversation, completely, not what the topic was supposed to be about, but ended up being more insightful learning about who the man coach Lewis was rather than just the coach. so,

Dan Santucci:

very true.

Luke:

so after the NFL, you end up going back to Notre Dame and you worked in a development office, Notre Dame and relationships are such a huge part to be successful in the development office. So, how did you build and cultivate relationships while in that position at Notre Dame?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, it was, um, it was a special job, you know, I had a great thing going at Notre Dame, you know, and I was done playing football, you know, like many others. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I sat back and talked to my wife and I said, you know what? We both went to Notre Dame. We both love Notre Dame. I'm going to try to go work for the university and, you know, went back and started for two years in game day operations. Mike semen gave me my first shot and I started as an intern again, back to what I learned from St. Pat. Put in the time, grind away, you know, just keep your head down. Good things will happen. And, um, did that for two years. And then vice-president Lou Nani of development said, Hey, I want you to come work for us. You've got a great story. You love being around people. And I want you to go out to New York city and fundraise for us. And I did that for eight years. Just like you said, it's about the relationships and the people I met along the way, alums, friends, and parents, um, you know, successful people who. Overall, we're very humble and wanting to help out, you know, and I would go out there and meet them for coffee or lunch or dinner, and we'd share stories and talk about the, what Notre Dame has done for me and what it's doing for their kid or what, what it did for them when they were there. And we were able to take those, you know, take those bonds and really get them to give back at a high level. And it was so rewarding and, you know, it was most rewarding coaches when they gave that gift. They were so excited. It's like, wow. You know, someone's given the university of Notre Dame? money And they're so excited to do it because they know the impact they're going to have on someone's life.

Luke:

And I'm assuming. As you got to know these people who many of, many of whom are probably pretty powerful in the business world or whatever industry they're in given the pedigree of Notre Dame. Did you see the theme of what we're discussing here that, although these were high ranking, successful business, people that at their core, they were about impacting lives and about making people's lives better.

Dan Santucci:

A hundred percent. I mean, most of these, most of these gentlemen are women. I met, they were, they were either for blue collar families or, you know they had stories that you wouldn't believe, um, how they were able to come out of that. And they were just so grateful and don't get me wrong. It was through hard work. It was through a lot of risks that they were able to be successful. But they would always go back to their roots and they wanted to give back and it, and it was so powerful to see that. So they were, they were grateful for their success, but they know that they wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for other people and they wanted to pay it forward. So they were, like I said, excited to give the gap and give someone else an opportunity to receive a Notre Dame education or give someone else the opportunity with an internship they always wanted to help. And the power of the relationship. And just people is unbelievable. And a quick story, you know, I'm here at St. Pat's now. I have a few benefactors at Notre Dame. I will always stay in touch with them because they became friends. Well, one of them without saying his name after I started here, I called for one of my checkups with him and see how he's doing and wanted to pick his brain about a few things. What was going on here at St. Pat's and he out of nowhere says, you know, Dan, what, you know, what would it say. This, you know, support 10 kids at St Pat's and I told them the amount and he goes, well, I'm going to send you that amount tomorrow. And a coach. This is a guy that has no tie to St. Patrick high school. He obviously believes in education for all kids, but it was because of the relationship we were able to build together and the trust we had in one another. And he wanted to kind of, you know, give our school this gift for, to kind of kick it off on the right direction. I mean, it was so I goosebumps, I didn't know what obviously I said, thank you. It blew me away.

Luke:

That's really inspiring to hear. And, you know, again, we live in a world that for whatever reason, just loves to promote negativity and divisiveness. And it's just great to hear that story. And that's part of the. Platform of this podcast spread positivity. There there's a lot of good in the world and people need to hear those stories. And what you just said right there. I don't, I don't know this person. I don't know what the amount is. I don't care what the amount is, but again, same response, as you just mentioned, goosebumps, just the, the care for the stranger and the willingness to do that. But yet to the point that it comes back to a relationship. If you take the time to establish the personal connection and relationship, everybody ends up winning in the long run.

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, exactly.

Luke:

So now comes this opportunity at St. Pat's that you've already touched upon. And I'm curious, what is it about working with high school students that appeal to so much for you to take this big leap of faith and, and come back home and you know, pretty much go full circle.

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, it's kind of like what you've already touched on. I, you know, and this opportunity came, which literally was out of nowhere. Um, I was obviously humbled and grateful and, and, you know, once I hung up the phone, I thought a lot about it and seeing where our world is today, the opportunity. And like I said, I had a great thing going in Notre Dame. I could have been there for my whole career and great people and a great place to work for a place I love. But they have the opportunity in today's world to do everything I can to, to inspire young boys and try to turn them into men, to be there for them to hopefully be a role model for them. It just took it to the next level. And I said, I have to do this. I really look at it as a calling. Like, this is what I was destined to do. This is my time from all the great people I've met from the time I walked in St. Patrick high school. And even before that at St. Francis Borgia, I mean, my grade school coaches are phenomenal, but I put it all together. This is my time to go back And try to have an effect on someone's life. And it made, obviously I had to get my wife on board and she was a hundred percent supportive, but it made my decision easy.

Luke:

And one of the things you're now tasked with is something that you haven't been too familiar with in the past. Well, at least I don't think you have, but you're going to be building a staff. You're going to have vacancies and you're going to have to hire new teachers. You're gonna have to hire a new coach. And I'm curious as to what are the characteristics that you are going to specifically hone in on that you want your staff to emulate to really showcase.

Dan Santucci:

Yeah. So, you know, right when I was hired it, you know, I started thinking that right away, you know, I truly believe in, in, in the, you know, the recipe of people. Culture results. Right? If you hire the right people, it'll build the right culture and then results will take care of themselves. So I kept thinking about that and, you know, right away, one of, one of my first hires was coach Dan Galanti, who coached me when I was a senior here at St. Pat's was here for 16 years. And, and what is he, you know, what does he bring to the table? You know, dedication, he's hardworking. He's people oriented. He knows connections. He's been doing this for 20 years, but at the end of the day, he knows how to relate the kids. He knows how to make them feel welcome. He knows how to coach them, not only on the field, but in the classroom or just as people. And that's what I want here at St. Pat's. I want people who are going to work hard. They're mission driven. They're dedicated. To our brotherhood and to at the end of the day, they're good people that want to turn boys into young men. And, you know, we're bringing the right people into the building and we have a great core already, but as people transition in and out and. That's the most important thing, you in this job is to, is to build a team that you can rely on, that you can empower. And that, you know, at the end of the day, their main goal, it's not to teach math. It's not to teach science it's to be a life changer. That's what I told all the faculty and staff. I said, you guys are life changers. It's not about what you do in the classroom, on the field. It's about those conversations outside in the hallway or after class, because that's what those kids are gonna remember. They remember you going to their game, that you'd be in that support structure for them. So, so that, that's what I'm really looking for is as we move on here at St. Pats.

Luke:

Well, you kind of stole my thunder because my next question was going to have to do with the roles of schools. Let's be honest in today's world. There's a huge emphasis put on outcomes. So in schools, how many kids are you putting into college? How many kids are taking the AP test and what is their average score? In athletics? It's how many games are you winning and how many kids are getting scholarships? And it seems like the pressure on outcomes. Is just growing and it's almost becoming insurmountable, at least in my opinion. So what would you say to those people who would push back on your philosophy?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah. You know, I agree with you. And what I would say is, you know, the pressure is so big these days and it's affecting our kids. You know, I, it's unbelievable the stories you hear of a seventh grader with anxiety to go to class. Cause they're worried about how they're going to perform or what they're going to do on the test. Hey, we all know. That education is important. We all know that if you play sports, you want to win. W w we all get that, you know, but the added pressure that's been put on our kids today to me is just, it's doing more harm than good. So again, my focus is we know those things are important, but at the end of the day, it's about the experience. It's about the relationships. Um, you know, it's turning boys into young men. It's giving them the personal skills to go have a conversation, giving them that the network. You know, I, I. It's so refreshing to see a kid, you know, a young boy that will actually come up to you and say, hello, and look you in the eye. And these are little things that are missing these days because of all our technology and the different types of things that kids are doing these days. So I really think it might some. But to me, I wasn't the smartest guy in the class, you know, I wasn't the best athlete. I had a great work ethic and I wanted to be the best I could be. And I wanted to know that at the end, when I looked myself in the mirror at the end of the day, I gave it everything I got. And that's what I'm trying to establish here at St. Pats to all these students is you're going to find your way. You're going to figure out through our people in this building of what your next step should be. Have a great time build relationships of a lifetime

Luke:

Well, you're taking over for a legend and Dr. Schmidt has left quite the legacy at St Pat's. So let's look into your crystal ball and, and fast forward. And I know that you're gonna hit a home run and you're going to be there for the next 40 to 50 years. And you're going to create your legacy as well. What do you want that legacy of your presidency of St. Pat's ultimate.

Dan Santucci:

You know, I want people to, oh, you said Dr. Joe was here for 54 years and his lead St. Pats for a long time and he's done a phenomenal job. Um, and I know I have big shoes to fill, but you know, at the end of the day, For me, my message is simple. I want kids to want to come here that they, that we practice what we preach, that they believe in this brotherhood that we talk about, and that, you know, they know I'm here for them, you know? And I've said that the families are ready. I will take my personal time to invest in your son. Because I want what's best for them. So my office will be open. Come see me. I want to help these boys become young men. That's why I came back. You know, I, I don't care about titles, and I want everyone to know. We're all, we all have a role at St. Pat's and we're all in it together. We're a team, you know, and, and the whole cliche, you're only as good as your weakest link. It's it's true. Um, and obviously I'm knowing that right now, being a president of a high school, I've never done this before. So I have to rely on great people that know how to do their job. So in the end, I want, I want the kids who graduate while I'm here to say, Mr. You know, he really cared about me. He worked hard. He was here every day. Um, he helped answer questions. He helped me during, uh, a critical moment in my life when things weren't going well at home, you know, whatever the case is. That's all I want. I just want them to know that I'm here for them and I'm giving it all I got.

Luke:

It's very clear from listening to you talk, the impact that, that foundation you referenced earlier that your high school teachers and coaches had upon you because it's coming out in president Santucci right now. And you've had the unique experience of dealing with the top tier of athletes in the NFL, the top tier of business, men and women through your experience at the development office. Have you noticed that a lot of them share such fond memories and have been impacted by their high school coaches and teachers as profoundly you have been.

Dan Santucci:

You know, I would say yes. I mean, I, I think the people I've been fortunate enough to meet along the way. They know they would not be where they are today if it wasn't for many others that have helped them along the way. And I think that's life, and I encourage others, you know, there's so many people that don't, you know, how did you go talk to that guy? Who's. You know, multimillion dollars. I said, he's just a person just like you. He wants to talk to you. He wants to meet you, just like you want to meet him. He wants to help others just like you are and help others. You know, in the end, we're all people, you know, so we have to get over this culture of, I'm intimidated to talk to so-and-so or, you know, I'm, I'm worried about going against this guy in sports. Hey, we're all, we're all people and we're all kind of on the same mission or at least should be to, just to make this world better. So I, uh, I've been blessed, like I say, coached it to meet some phenomenal people. Like you said, if it wasn't for people they met along the way, obviously, probably starting at home with their parents, but then coaches and teachers and different folks, friends to help them. They would never be where they were, where they are today. So that's kind of message there.

Luke:

Well, that's outstanding. That's a very powerful message. And one day. I think we all need to hear, but especially the men and women on the front lines. And when I say that, I mean the, the leaders of our young people in this country right now, because there are definitely moments where you feel defeated, you feel like you may be wasting your time and they need to hear the message that you're sending: you are making impacts beyond what you really know at that moment. And unfortunately, in the business, you may never know the impact. That you're going to have, but listening to you, just gush about your experiences in high school and in college and even the NFL and the impact that all these leaders had upon you. It's a great reminder to anyone who leads people, that if you focus on the relationships, if you focus on the people that you lead, you're going to make an impact. So thank you for sharing those stories. And in closing, there is one last thing I need to ask you that is not related to leadership. What are your thoughts on Notre Dame and staying in independent and football?

Dan Santucci:

Yeah. Obviously I love the independency and to be able to play it all across the country And all the different rivalries, you know, College football is putting Notre Dame in a, in a tough position, you know, um, right now we're able to make it work. And I know that Jack Swarbrick wants to keep that going, you know, keeping us independent, but only time will tell, you know, and I, the way the structure is and kinda the whole money situation, we'll see what will happen. But no, I, I love the independent model. But like I said, we'll see what happens is, you know, the sign will be as if a Notre Dame team goes undefeated or one loss and gets left out in the playoffs, then we're going to have a really, really tough decision to make.

Luke:

Yeah. And being a lover of college football, like, am I, I just don't know how I feel about the constant conference juggling. I know. I, I definitely. I'm discouraged at the taking away of rivalries. I think that's such an important piece. And you touched upon that with Notre Dame because they have some unique rivalries given, you know, joining one conference would eliminate a lot of those rivalries. So nonetheless, uh, not related to the topic we're discussing, but still fascinating and something, I was just curious to get the insight scoop from someone who has lived it. So thanks for sharing that, but more importantly, thanks for taking the time. Share what our audience that we are making an impact. We need to keep on making the world a better place and helping develop the leaders of tomorrow.

Dan Santucci:

Yeah, thank you, coach. And I, it was an honor to be on your show.

Luke:

Dan Santucci is exactly the type of leadership needed in schools today. He absolutely oozes with optimism and his unwavering and his commitment to changing lives. If you're interested in reaching out to Dan directly, I've listed some info in the show notes. If you want to connect with me, I'm on twitter@lukemertens or you can email me at lukemertens44@gmail.com. Thanks for listening, please consider leaving a review and if you're finding value, recommend this podcast to others. And remember the more "I"s we impact in this world, the more everyone wins. That's The "I' in Win!

Dan Santucci Profile Photo

Dan Santucci

President

Former NFL Lineman and University of Notre Dame Development Director Returns to Lead Alma Mater

(Chicago, IL, February 3, 2021) – The Board of Trustees at Saint Patrick High School, Chicago’s oldest all-boys Catholic high school, announced today the appointment of Daniel A. Santucci ’02 as the school’s next president. Santucci, a former National Football League (NFL) player and experienced development director at the University of Notre Dame, becomes the third president in Saint Patrick’s 160-year history after the president/principal model was adopted in 1987.

“It is an honor to be named the next president of Saint Patrick High School. My education at Saint Patrick gave me a great foundation for my careers in the NFL and at Notre Dame and I will work hard to ensure that opportunity is there for young men to further their faith in a high-achieving, competitive academic environment for many years to come,” said Santucci, whose term will begin on July 1, 2021.

Santucci replaces Dr. Joseph G. Schmidt, AFSC, who will transition into a new ambassador role with the school this summer after serving in his 54th year at Saint Patrick. Schmidt called his successor “a spirited leader with the integrity, courage and can-do attitude” needed to lead Saint Patrick High School into the future.

“Dan embodies what it means to be a Shamrock and our school community will benefit from his energy, his experience and his commitment to Catholic education,” said Schmidt, who has served as Saint Patrick’s president since 2013. “We are blessed to welcome Dan back to Saint Patrick as the school’s next president during this important time in our history.”

Born and raised in Harwood Heights, where he attended St. Francis Borgia grammar school on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Santucci attended the University of Notre Dame on a full athletic scholarship after he graduated from Saint Patrick. A four-year letterman for the Fighting Irish’s storied football program, Santucci earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in 2006. The following spring, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Santucci in the seventh round (230th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. An offensive guard, Santucci enjoyed a four-year NFL career with the Bengals and Carolina Panthers. His Bengals jersey hangs in the Saint Patrick gymnasium alongside those of three other Shamrock alumni who enjoyed NFL careers.

After leaving professional football, Santucci returned to the University of Notre Dame, where he currently serves as Senior Regional Director of Development. A proven fundraiser, Santucci is respected for his ability to build, cultivate and maintain relationships that further the mission of an institution.

“I could never adequately sing the praises of Dan Santucci,” said Louis Nanni, Vice President for University Relations at University of Notre Dame. “He is a superb leader and a person of infinite integrity and compassion. A huge loss to Notre Dame and a wonderful champion for his beloved Saint Patrick. I’m confident that under Dan’s leadership this will be a terrific era for your school community.”

In September, the Saint Patrick Board of Trustees and the Christian Brothers of the Midwest began a search for the school’s next president following the announcement of Schmidt’s decision to transition out of the role at the end of the 2020-21 school year. The Board of Trustees appointed a search committee and hired Educational Directions, a nationally recognized consulting firm, to conduct a nationwide search.

“Dan represents everything we had hoped to find in a candidate – intelligent, principled, ambitious and committed to the mission of Saint Patrick High School and Catholic education,” said Saint Patrick Board of Trustees Vice Chairman and Search Committee Chair Gregory P. Josefowicz ’70.

Santucci credits his parents with instilling in him and his three siblings, including brother Paul, a 1997 graduate of Saint Patrick who serves on the school’s Alumni Board, the importance of a Catholic education. He understands the sacrifices parents make to send their young men to Saint Patrick and the trust they put in the institution to shepherd their sons’ personal development.

“From St. Francis Borgia to St. Pat’s to the University of Notre Dame, I have only known academic excellence in Catholic education,” Santucci said. “As a proud alum of Saint Patrick, I am committed to fostering a winning mindset in everything we do – academics, athletics, the arts, service and more, carrying on the Shamrock tradition and furthering the Catholic Lasallian mission in our school and community.”

Santucci and his wife, Meredith, are the proud parents of five children (Johnny, 12; Avery, 10; Luke, 7; Abigail 5; and Andrew, 3).