Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Drew Pyne Makes Major Impressions On Everybody Around Him

January 10, 2020

Hartford traffic isn’t New York traffic. It’s not Los Angeles traffic. And it’s not Chicago traffic.

But if you hit the morning or evening commute just right, Hartford traffic can be paralyzing.

It certainly had me stuck as I traveled from Springfield, Mass. to New Canaan, Conn., last May.

Once OnStar finally acknowledged the Maps app on my iPhone had been correct all along about my estimated time of arrival, a solid 100 minutes later than my initial expectation, I was in a panic.

After reluctantly having to cancel a couple scheduled meetings in New Jersey on the backend of my trip, I made the call to New Canaan head coach Lou Marinelli to let him know there was no way I’d make our originally scheduled 8 a.m. meeting.

When I did arrive, a crisp 90 minutes late, Marinelli couldn’t have been more hospitable.

He greeted me in his office, showed me the connections between New Canaan High School and Notre Dame that date back generations, including YouTube clips of Pete Demmerle catching passes for the Irish against Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. He toured me around the school, inside and out, introducing me to anybody and everybody in the building who might have any sort of connection to Notre Dame.

Finally, Marinelli acknowledged what I’d suspected all along, he was simply killing time.

I felt bad. I was the reason he needed to stall and yet he was apologizing to me.

He called the classroom a couple more times.

Then, a bell rang.

“He’ll be here any minute now,” Marinelli said.

Moments later, the bustling of high school students shuttling between classes grew louder and more urgent. Before I could ascertain the exact source of the sudden increase in volume, the door to Marinelli’s office burst open.

Drew Pyne‍ hunched over for a second out of breath. He had clearly just sprinted from his class to his coach’s office to make sure he was on time for a meeting the other party had delayed by more than hour.

Pyne didn’t say hello as he attempted to catch his breath.

Instead, he said, “I’m sorry I’m late.”

Drew Pyne back in May of 2018.

At the time, I was stunned, but after getting to know the 2020 Notre Dame quarterback signee over the last couple of years, I see it’s perfectly congruous with his personality.

“He’s honestly a great kid,” New Canaan Math teacher Sean Killelea says. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a freshman coming in who doesn’t play football or the captain of the team who’s a senior, he’s going to treat them the same. I’ve never seen him talk down to anyone.”

Killelea, who the New Canaan kids call ‘Killa,’ and his wife welcomed twins to the world last spring. Before their arrival, Pyne took the time to send a video message of support from himself and his classmates.

“He just says, ‘Hey Killa, we’re all pulling for you and the Mrs. Go get em! Don’t worry, we’re still working on our Math,’” Killelea recalls. “He’s an even better person than he is an athlete. He’s a heck of a kid.

“Those are genuine qualities that are awesome.”

Ellen Fitzpatrick teaches English at New Canaan and had Pyne in her class as a freshman and again as a junior.

“Drew is definitely the happiest and most energetic kid I’ve met since being at the high school,” she says. “He constantly has a smile on his face and is always cracking people up with his pure wit and charisma. He has such a great sense of humor and uses it to brighten up every room he’s in.

“Whether he’s dancing his way into the classroom, sharing his eclectic music taste with the group, or regaling the class with stories of his morning commute, Drew is always lifting up others and putting a smile on their faces. I simply cannot think of a more dynamic, light-hearted, and spirited person than Drew.” 

Pyne with his parents on National Signing Day.

It’s clear Pyne was born with many of these qualities, but it’s just as obvious many of them were passed on from his family.

“That behavior has to be reinforced by people over time and modeled by people,” New Canaan athletic director Jay Egan says. “You’d have to say that type of awareness of your relationships with other people, that has to be something you’re taught. I think his parents taught him the value of that.”

Pyne’s parents, George and Helene Pyne, also showed their children the value of family by sending Drew and his younger sister to New Canaan in the first place.

“They could be in private schools, they could be in a different community,” Egan says. “They’ve chosen to live in a family-oriented community and send their kids to a public school. I think that’s the message, that’s an action that is revealing in respect to what’s important to that family.”

Killelea adds, “You can tell that he was raised in a great family setting. He works for everything that he gets.”

Fitzpatrick calls Pyne’s mother “an incredibly gracious and generous individual who clearly takes a great deal of pride in Drew’s character and his accomplishments off the field.”

“He speaks so highly of both his parents and it is evident that they have raised him to be selfless and considerate,” Fitzpatrick continues.

She adds that Drew is “the best big brother to his little sister.”

“Last year, he made it very clear that he was constantly looking out for her as she was a freshman at the time. Drew has such a big heart and comes from a tight-knit family where everyone has each other’s backs.”

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