Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2021 Notre Dame OL Target Rocco Spindler Enjoyed Special Bond With Grandfather

May 20, 2020
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George Spindler didn’t have the greatest eyesight, but he still wanted to see his grandson’s high school football games in Michigan from his home in Pennsylvania.

“My dad’s vision was so bad he couldn’t see a TV from six feet away, but he wanted me to FaceTime from the football game so he could think he could see what was going on on the football field on a Friday night,” Marc Spindler laughs.

“He always wanted to have the highlights, the updates, what’s going on. I sent him some Hudl updates to my sister and she would show them to him.”

Marc Spindler played in the NFL before becoming a successful businessman, allowing him to provide his four kids, including top 2021 offensive lineman Rocco Spindler‍, some great opportunities. Marc and his wife, Rochelle, believe it’s up to them to make sure their kids know the sacrifices that were made to give them those opportunities.

“Sometimes these kids think they hit a triple, but they were born on third base,” Marc Spindler says. “We want to make sure they have an understanding of where they came from and how they got there. My dad always taught me, ‘I just want you to do better than we did and you should want your kids to do better than you did.’

“But we also want them to remember, ‘Never forget where you came from and how hard you worked to get there.’ Those are the types of values we’ve instilled in all of our children and held them very accountable in discipline to those values.”

Family and God are at the top of the Spindler family value sheet with humility next.

A young Rocco Spindler with his grandfather.

“I’ve always taught my kids, ‘You’ve got to stay hungry, humble and healthy,’” Mr. Spindler says. “‘Be thankful for what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have.’

“We have a really tight inner-circle family. We’re thankful for what we have and don’t worry about what we don’t have. I think my children understand the sacrifices my wife and myself made, but more importantly, they understand the sacrifices Rochelle’s mother and father and my dad made for us.”

George Spindler’s own parents passed away by the time he was 16 years old and he was married by the time he was 17.

“My dad did whatever he had to do, work one or two jobs,” Marc Spindler says. “My mother always worked.

“The same with Rochelle’s mother and father. They always provided for us and put us in the best position to succeed. We didn’t grow up rich. I would say we were closer to poor than rich, but never felt that way because our parents never allowed us to feel that way.

“He just always did what he had to do to provide for us. Rochelle’s mother and father always did what they had to do to provide for her as well. We have similar backgrounds.”

George Spindler’s motto was “Invest your time, don’t spend it.”

“You’ll be able to get the money back that you spend to get the things you want, but you’ll never get the time back,” Marc Spindler says of that thought. “Whatever it is that you do in life, make sure you do it the right way.

“That really stuck with me. My dad was my biggest supporter. He was probably my son’s biggest supporter.”

With his father battling cancer last summer, Marc Spindler decided to make the eight-hour drive back to Scranton, Pa., and asked Rocco to come along.

“I didn’t want to say, ‘This might be the last time you see your grandfather,’ but I kind of thought maybe this could be the last time,” Marc recalls.

It was.

George Spindler passed away last July, but not before he shared a special, private moment with his grandson.

“My dad wanted to know where he was going to go to college,” says Marc. “Rocco whispered in his ear and I really don’t know what he told him and I never asked him what he said to him, but he told him something and my dad just looked up and shook his head saying more or less, ‘That’s good.’

“I think they had a tighter relationship than I’m aware of. I’m thankful for the time he had. He loved him like no other. He wanted to see him go to college, see him play and hopefully get an opportunity to maybe play in the NFL.”

Marc acknowledges his own relationship with his father was “challenging” at times because of how hard he was pushed.

“I refused to do that with Rocco, so my dad would sometimes intervene and get on the telephone and make sure he always gave whatever those words of wisdom were to my son,” says Marc.

George didn’t need to watch all of Rocco’s games via FaceTime, relishing the opportunity to watch Clarkston High School play in the postseason during his grandson’s freshman and sophomore seasons, when his other son would travel to Michigan for hunting season.

“My father said, ‘Screw this. I’m going to watch my grandson play,’” Marc laughs.

Those memories will be with Marc forever.

“I don’t have to see the photos,” he says. “They’re just right there. As soon as I close my eyes, I can see him standing in back of my dad in the wheelchair and my father just as proud as ever to be with his grandson.”

“My father felt like that about all of his grandkids, but to be able to come out and see a kid who was so successful and probably reminded him of me and what I went through and to be able to see it again, the second bite of the apple per se was probably something really, really special for my dad.”

Clarkston High School dedicates one game every year to cancer research.

“They play Football For A Cure,” Marc says. “That’s really special. Any cancer survivor or anyone who passed from cancers, the kids from each school put a name of who they’re playing for on their backs.”

Unfortunately for Rocco, he’s had somebody close to him to play for during each of his three seasons of high school ball. First, he played for his maternal grandmother, then his mother’s stepfather and in 2019, for his grandfather.

The 2019 Football For A Cure Game was a big one for the Spindlers.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful weekend,” says Marc. “It was probably one of the best fall weekends I’ve ever had in my entire life with respect to the weather. The fall colors were beautiful. My mother came out. My sister came up for the game. We made it a big tailgate. They lost, but the humility and respect paid to my dad with the jersey and giving the jersey to my mother on the football field was very bittersweet, but is something we’ll remember forever.

“Bittersweet is the best way to describe it.”

George Spindler probably saw the entire thing from up above... clearly...without the need for FaceTime.

 
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