Former NFL player Chris Zorich to speak at Friendly Sons of St. Patrick’s Banquet

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PITTSTON — The Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick President Joseph Long announces former Notre Dame All-American NFL veteran and College Football Hall of Famer Chris Zorich will be the principal speaker at the 104th annual St. Patrick’s Day Banquet on March 17.

Zorich was born and raised in Chicago and graduated from Chicago Vocational High School in 1987. He received a football scholarship from Lou Holtz and the University of Notre Dame.

Zorich made history as part of Notre Dame football’s all-time winning streak with 23 consecutive wins. As a starter, he compiled a 33-4 record and during those 37 games, his team went into 21 of those games ranked #1 in the nation. He also helped Notre Dame win the national championship in 1988.

Zorish was honored as a White House guest of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. He was elected captain of the Fighting Irish football team his senior year.

He won numerous collegiate awards, including consecutive consensus and unanimous All-American titles (1989 and 1990), United Press International’s Lineman of the Year (1989), Chevrolet’s College Defensive Player of the Year (1989), the Lombardi Award (1990), MVP of the Orange Bowl (1991). Chris was a member of Walter Camp’s College Football All-Century Team (2000) and Sports Illustrated’s All-Time Notre Dame Team (2006). He was also named one of the top 10 greatest Notre Dame football players by Athlon Sports (2011).

In 2007, Zorich was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was also inducted into the FedEx Orange Bowl Hall of Fame for his outstanding performances in back-to-back Orange Bowl appearances in 1990 and 1991.

Following his 1991 graduation, Zorich was drafted by the Chicago Bears football team and averaged 100+ tackles per season, placing him among the league’s best defensive linemen.

Zorich finished his career with the Washington Redskins.

In 1996, while still playing for the Bears, Zorich started law school at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He retired from the NFL to finish his law degree at Notre Dame Law School in order to further his ability to help those in need. Upon graduation from law school in 2002, heworked for the Chicago law firm of Schuyler Roche, P.C. where he worked in the Business Enterprise and Estate Management practice areas.

He also managed the team responsible for submitting Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with the city of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority.

In 1993, The Christopher Zorich Foundation was established to honor Zorich’s mother Zora, who passed away during his senior year at Notre Dame. The foundation’s programs offered diverse community support: youth programs providing cultural, educational and entertainment activities. During that time, Zorich personally raised over $1 million dollars and served as the foundation’s chairman.

An integral undertaking of the foundation was The Zora Zorich Scholarship, a scholarship award bestowed annually at the University of Notre Dame and Lewis University.

In 1998, the University of Notre Dame commissioned The Christopher Zorich Award to recognize the contributions of student athletes to the University community and the community at-large.

In 2008, Zorich returned to Notre Dame and became the Manager for Student Welfare & Development and Manager for Youth Programming & Community Outreach for the university’s athletic department. He was responsible for directing the university’s multi-million dollar summer sports camps, along with developing and implementing life skills programs for the University’s 700+ student-athletes.

Zorich has received honorary degrees from East West University, St. Xavier University and Governors State University.

In 2008, he was appointed to The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an organization that advocates to influence and reform various issues plaguing college sports (e.g., recruiting practices, gender equity, and academic eligibility).

Zorich has also served as a board member for various non-profit organizations, including KaBoom! (playground builder), The Joffrey Ballet, Special Children’s Charities and Urban Prep Academies. He also served on the administration and finance committees as a board member for the Chicago Public Library, one of the largest library systems in the country with 79 locations and a $100+ million annual budget.

Recognized for his fierce commitment on and off the playing field, Zorich has received a score of athletic and community service awards, including the following: selection as an alternate for the 1993 Pro Bowl, the 10th Anniversary “All-Madden Team,” two-time NFL Man of the Year Finalist, the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award for Community Service, and USA Weekend’s “Most Caring Athlete.” He also received the Jesse Owens Foundation’s “Humanitarian Award” from the family of the late Olympic great Jesse Owens and Muhammad Ali’s limited commission “Humanitarian Award” from Ali himself.

Upon his return to Chicago, Zorich worked as the Director of Athletics at the campus of St. Sabina Catholic Church and Community Center on Chicago’s south side. In 2014, he accepted a position with the Chicago Park District and supervised several parks as well as managed and produced a summer music festival for over 100,000 attendees.

Currently, he is the Director of Athletics at Prairie State College (PSC), a community college 30 miles outside of Chicago. At PSC, Zorich is responsible for all decisions pertaining to the athletic department and is the catalyst for rebuilding the school’s academic services program for its student-athletes.

Zorich currently lives in Chicago with his wife Candace, stepdaughter Kylie and two rescued Rottweilers, Athena and Icy.

Tickets for the event must be purchased in advance from any active member of the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick or at the Knights of Columbus, 55 S. Main St., every Thursday night until the night of the banquet.

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