The trip of a lifetime
Author: Barry King (BBA '07)
“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done”
Beowulf (Seamus Heaney edition)
It is an honor to be part of Mendoza College of Business’ centennial in 2021. Notre Dame has been omni-present in my life since my recruiting trip to Notre Dame in February 2003. I am very grateful for everything the Mendoza College of Business has brought to my life and it is an honor to contribute this essay to the “Make your Mark” campaign. It is very difficult to pinpoint one particular area of my life that has been impacted the most so I am going to tell my Notre Dame/ Mendoza life story so far as best I can.
A picture hangs in my Dad’s living room (in my old family home in Knocklyon, Dublin) of my Dad and me. I have just turned 18 – am shy, gangly and awkward looking and we are surrounded by about 6 feet of snow. I notice it every time I go to visit my Dad right to this day. The picture is nearly twenty years old now and we are on the last leg of my recruiting trip to visit American universities. The trip is a week — long and is scheduled during my Mid Term Break in my sixth year of Secondary School.
We are on the University of Notre Dame Campus in South Bend, Indiana — on the road separating the athletic campus (J.A.C.C – Ice Hockey and Basketball Stadium, Eck Tennis Center, Softball Pitches, Soccer Stadium and outdoor Football Training pitches) and main campus (more specifically North Quad). Notre Dame is the first stop of three universities on my recruiting trip.
It is the trip of a lifetime for me. We are both excited to experience these universities and the fantastic opportunities/ life experiences that lay ahead of me. In addition, the trip is the culmination of years of hard work and support from my family to put myself in a position to achieve a tennis scholarship to a prestigious university in the U.S. I was the No. 1 junior tennis player in Ireland at the time and my Dad and I were looking at the best option for me to pursue my academic and athletic career.
Ultimately, Notre Dame was the obvious choice for me, not because of the “Fighting Irish” nickname, but because once I set foot on campus and experienced everything the campus had to offer over a 48-hour period, I knew it was the only fit for me. During my recruiting trip, I attended a tennis match (tense home loss versus Northwestern University), a basketball game (entertaining victory over Virginia Tech with Chris Thomas starring), had breakfast in South Dining Hall, attended a class in DeBartolo Hall with a freshman (Pat Buchanan) on the tennis team and stayed a night in Keenan Hall. In addition, I visited the Golden Dame, Touchdown Jesus and took a trip to the Basilica and Grotto all with Coach Bobby Bayliss and Todd Doebler (Notre Dame Assistant). On the flight home to Dublin, I knew I was going to have an incredible life experience in Notre Dame both on the tennis court and in the classroom surrounded by inspiring people.
During my time at Notre Dame, I attended the Mendoza College of Business Undergraduate School and graduated with a finance degree in 2007. Notre Dame was ranked one of the best Undergraduate Business Schools in America at the time and I look back with great pride that I graduated with a finance degree from the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame was an incredibly rewarding experience in my life but also very challenging. I was part of a tennis team that were incredibly hard working and ambitious. I was a key member of a team that rose from an NCAA ranking of No. 50 to No. 4 my senior year (finishing at No. 6 in 2007) while studying for a Finance degree from the Mendoza College of Business. I was a four-year Monogram winner, played number 2 Singles and 1 Doubles during my four years and was ranked Top 100 NCAA Singles and Top 20 Doubles. It was a demanding four years but I worked hard to branch out and improve in other areas outside tennis and Mendoza. I was a mentor for International First Years during my junior and senior years assisting from an academic and personal perspective which helped me to use my experience of transitioning into U.S college from Ireland.
Post–graduation, the Mendoza College of Business has had a very powerful impact on my professional career. The Notre Dame family and Notre Dame network have been omnipresent and of assistance to me both professionally and personally. The Mendoza College of Business mantra of “Grow the Good in Business” and the importance of Personal Growth, Business Growth and Societal Growth are always transparent whenever I am in contact with old dormmates, classmates or old tennis teammates from Mendoza. The message of adding value to society, being a good person and passing any assistance you have gotten to the next generation is always there and I know Mendoza will have that core impact on future generations. I had all my Notre Dame tennis teammates and ten of my dormmates/ classmates attend my wedding in Ireland in 2016, which was a very special feeling.
As soon as I finished my tennis career in 2011 after spending three years on the professional circuit and representing Ireland at Davis Cup level, I looked to become active in the Notre Dame Club of Ireland. I helped lead and manage the re-establishment of the Club within Ireland by building relationships with Notre Dame alumni and current students. In addition, I was a mentor and coach to Notre Dame students in Ireland providing guidance from a professional and personal perspective. A huge highlight for me was a Dual Match between the current Notre Dame Tennis Team and the Irish Davis Cup Team in 2012 on the eve of the Notre Dame/ Navy football game in Dublin. It was great to have a reunion with my former Coaches Bobby Bayliss and Ryan Sachire. They helped instill in me a great passion for tennis which I still have today. This passion has culminated in my selection as Irish Davis Cup/ International Team Coach from 2016 – 2018 and I have recently got back involved in Irish tennis by setting up my own Tennis Academy for Performance Juniors in 2019.
In addition to the Tennis Reunion, it was incredible to witness 35,000 American fans in Dublin and celebrate Notre Dame’s rich academic, faith and athletic tradition. In that respect, it was hugely disappointing for me that the 2020 Notre Dame/ Navy Football Game was eventually canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopefully Notre Dame football will return to Dublin in the coming years.
In summary, I feel blessed to have attended the Mendoza College of Business and graduated with a degree in Finance. It is one of the proudest achievements of my life along with representing Ireland at Davis Cup/ International level both as a player and a coach. I am truly grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the opportunities, experiences and wonderful people I have met through Mendoza and I know Mendoza will continue to be omnipresent for the rest of my adult life.