Phantom Letters, The

Hardwood Press
Paper $14.95
Preface by Ara Parseghian, 176 pages, 6" x 9", preface, appendixes

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Phantom Letters, The

Motivation at Notre Dame in the Parseghian Era

Pagna, Tom

In the Era of Ara from 1964 through the 1974 season, a written chronicle of pre-game information, slogans, mottoes, and ideals emerged. The author was known only as the Phantom. The letters were one or two pages, written in staccato phrases, geared to thoughts that encompassed team goals and the philosophy to win.

Through the past 40 years, some of the Phantom letters have been lost, but this collection, arranged from 1966 throughout, contains the great bulk of them.

The “Phantom Speaks” letters were written in advance of each game and placed in each player’s locker on the Monday prior to the upcoming opponent. The phrases, sayings, and emotional triggers, though sometimes repetitious, illuminate the deep philosophical targets of those Irish teams. Simply written, with little fanfare, they are gems of coaching principles. They could have been pre-game or halftime talks. They are loaded with point-blank statements that pull no punches, telling players exactly where they are and why.

To read them is to be in the locker room. Each game of each season is dated and the final outcome posted at the letter’s end.

Nearly one hundred letters remain, and they form a coherent coaching strategy, containing uncommon insight into competition, and a triggering of the elements that can motivate greatness in one person or a team.

Families and businesses could profit from this uncommon common sense. The letters are startling and open a window few have looked through.

Any fan of Notre Dame Football, or any opponent who hates Notre Dame, will begin to see and understand the precarious odds such a traditional winning team faces.

Rarely has there been a more perfect view to educate the mind of the spectator, the fan, the lover of the sport of football!

Tom Pagna was Ara Parseghian’s assistant coach at Notre Dame and for years was the color commentator on Westwood One for Notre Dame football. He is author of Notre Dame’s Era of Ara and Petals from a Rose (both from Hardwood Press).

All royalties and a sizeable portion of the publishing proceeds will be donated to the Ara Parseghian Medical Foundation, to combat Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a debilitating, terminal disease in children.