In a school streaked with tradition – where we, as members of the ND community, have sung our fight song since 1928, where we have numerous statues of our most important historical football coaches, where we faithfully espouse a 2 millennia old religion, where we proudly recount Father Sorin’s famous founding of our university – I think we can all agree that it is important for us to pay tribute to those admirable, historic figures who have continued in bringing excellence upon the University of Notre Dame.

Mike McWilliams, Irish cross country and track runner and 1995 graduate is one such figure and is undoubtedly deserving of a bit of commemoration.

Ever heard the name?  Sadly, far too few people have.  McWilliams boasts feats that few collegiate athletes have ever surpassed.  He was a four-time All-American cross country runner. He was also awarded All-American honors on the track in the 10,000m run, in 1995, but to be a four-time All-American in one singular sport requires something extremely special.  This means that there was no adjustment period and no getting warmed up to the program in his first year.  None of that.  Just pure excellence from the start to the finish.

In the very same year that McWilliams started school, having left his small-town home in Grove City, Pennsylvania behind, he was already a fit and a competitive enough runner to bump elbows with the 40 best collegiate cross-country runners in the nation.  In fact, he crossed the finish line in an impressive 34th place in his first ever NCAA Championships – good for All-American status.  As Notre Dame’s second finisher, he helped the Irish men’s squad onto the national podium, with a 3rd place team finish in the same meet.  Not bad for a freshman.

In the ensuing 3 years, McWilliams continued to excel on the cross-country course, finishing 17th, 24th and 18th at the NCAA Championships respectively to earn his four consecutive All-American awards.  His success on the track was somewhat more sparse, however, as he was prone to injury due to putting in high volumes of training.  This still did not stop him from earning his fifth All-American certificate on the track in 1995.

Perhaps most impressive is the extent of McWilliams’ work ethic: he epitomized the ideal student-athlete here at Notre Dame.  In his first semester, he struggled greatly with the difficult classes pre-med majors must take – particularly calculus, which he never had the opportunity to take in high school.  Realizing that getting into medical school would be a difficult feat without nearly perfect marks, McWilliams aimed his ambitions toward achieving that perfection and came darned close.

Perhaps a more appropriate title than simply “McWilliams” would be Dr. McWilliams, as his stellar performance in the classroom eventually earned him acceptance into Georgetown University’s medical school. Eventually, McWilliams landed his current job as a practicing cardiologist. To this day, he is a successful doctor, living with his family in North Carolina.

Surely, this sort of commitment and excellence deserves to be recorded and remembered.  McWilliams truly made a name for himself here at Notre Dame, besting both his competition on the cross country course and his tough pre-med courses.  This man has well represented the tradition of excellence at our wonderful university in both body and mind, and we ought to be proud of what he has added to our rich and excellent history.

Jake Kildoo is a sophomore philosophy and Arabic double major living in O’Neill Hall. He will be gunning for his own cross country excellence this Friday in Madison as the Irish compete at the NCAA Regional Meet. Wish him luck at