Julian Love (third from right) with his family. Included is younger brother Michael who also starred for Nazareth. (Photos by Steve Metsch)
Nazareth retires Julian Love’s No. 20, inducts him into Roadrunners Hall of Fame
By Steve Metsch
Julian Love was not happy when he fell short of making the Nazareth varsity football team as a freshman.
During the summer before bis sophomore year, he worked out every day, improved his skills and earn a varsity spot.
And he did not disappoint, helping the Roadrunners to back-to-back state championships in 2014 and 2015.
Love graduated in 2016, then starred at Notre Dame, was drafted by the New York Giants and has spent the last four seasons playing safety in the NFL. He’ll play this season in Seattle, with which he signed as a free agent for $12 million over two years.
He’s excited about the new opportunity, but his heart will always be in La Grange Park. Now, so will his jersey.
On June 15, Love’s No. 20 was retired — the first such honor for a Nazareth football player — and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the school.
“It’s really cool. To be the first to have his number retired is really special,” said Love, who grew up in Westchester.
“It was really a golden age. It was really fun to be a student here, playing here when I did. To win those first two state championship games. That first run we had was just remarkable. It felt like the whole building was floating.”
The second state title run was tougher, he said.
“We had not as much a solid core as we did the previous year so we had to earn it a little harder,” he explained. “We were 14-0 the first title year and 12-2 the second. It wasn’t easy, but we were resilient.”
Love’s strong work ethic was appreciated by his teammates and coaches, but they saw a caring person who spent his own money to wash teammates’ shirts after grueling practice sessions in the summer heat at Illinois Wesleyan University, recalled Nazareth head coach Tim Racki.
“I just had that drive,” Love said. “I wasn’t the highest recruited kid going into Notre Dame. That was kind of the edge for me. I was a freshman All-American. I felt I earned my way.”
Playing in the NFL was his goal.
“When I was in college, I didn’t think, ‘Oh, yeah, for sure I’ll be in the league,'” he said. “To get that call (on draft day) is crazy. To have your job be the game you love is amazing.”
Before the induction ceremony, numerous people spoke and paid tribute to Love. Former Nazareth athletic director Dennis Moran, who coached the Roadrunners prior to Racki taking over, said he’s never encountered a smarter player.
“Julian’s intelligence and football IQ is off the charts,” Moran said. “I say this with respect: There’s not going to be a smarter athlete than him or one who’s more prepared.”
“He was a great, classy young man. He was always very gifted, but very humble. It starts at home. Parents. Loving family.
“He was special on the field, but treated his teammates like all true athletes in that position. It’s not about him. It’s about them.”
Nazareth Principal Therese Hawkins, who was a teacher when Love was a student at Nazareth, was “open to trying all kinds of things.” Love once starred in a spring musical and was involved in the campus ministry program. How many football stars play the donkey in a production of “Shrek”?
“He’s just a really great example of Nazareth’s commitment to educating the whole person,” Hawkins said.
Racki, who has been coaching for 30 years, said he’s coached approximately 3,000 players. Love is the first and only player Racki has coached to make it to the NFL.
In a nice touch, Nazareth put together a short video filled with highlights from his career, including testimonials from former Roadrunner, Fighting Irish and Giant teammates.
Before the ceremony, Lyons resident Arlene Houda, a Nazareth alum and longtime booster who has volunteered at the school, called Love “one of the nicest, most polite kids I ever met.”
A regular at football games, she was impressed by how Love played both ways exceptionally well.
JULIAN LOVE CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
- All-East Suburban Catholic Conference honors in 2014 and 2015; Conference MVP at Defensive Back
- Three-year member of the track and field team
- Was a participant in the theatre and baseball programs, a Eucharistic Minister and high achieving student in the classroom.
- In his three years playing for the Fighting Irish, he helped the team to an undefeated regular season and a College Football Playoff berth his junior season.
- Was a freshman All-American, and in his final season was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (Best Defensive Back in the Country) and was named a Consensus All-American.
- Set the all-time pass breakup record at Notre Dame, which had stood since 1971.
- Was selected by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft.
- Played four seasons in New York, where, in 2022 he was voted by teammates as a defensive team captain and named the winner of the 22nd annual George Young-Ernie Accorsi Media Good Guy Award.
- Signed $12 million two-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks in May 2023
Dogs had their day at alderman’s office
Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 517-7796 . Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who let the dogs out? Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares let the dogs in, at her office on 63rd Street. Our Oliver was one of the…
Yule decorations light the way to Christmas
Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 . Today (Dec. 1) is National Eat a Red Apple Day. Apples are a superfood. Eating them will reduce your chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They are good for digestion and even improve brain health. Organic apples are…
Catholic schools dilemma
Spread the love. After loss in Springfield, advocates search for a Plan B . By Tim Hadac After a clear defeat in Springfield earlier this month, supporters of the state’s Invest in Kids scholarship program—which includes a number of Catholic school parents on the Southwest Side—are searching for a Plan B. “What we do at…
Tommy Fitz, truly a good man
Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound . The obituary said Thomas M. Fitzgerald. But to me, it was almost like it was referring to someone else, if only because I—like so many others in Clearing and Garfield Ridge–knew him as Tommy Fitz. He died suddenly, unexpectedly, on Nov. 15 at…
Mount Carmel beats Downers Grove North for 15th state title
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mount Carmel’s plan was to open and close the season in Normal. They wanted to open the 2023 campaign by beating then-nationally ranked East St. Louis in a neutral-site game at Hancock Stadium at Illinois State University, then return 13 weeks later and a win a state championship.…
Cold Turkey Trotting | Young runners heat up Orland Park race held in freezing temps
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The temperature may have been freezing, but the winners were not complaining. The 35th Orland Park Turkey Trot, held per tradition on Thanksgiving, started in 30-degree weather. And the young champs embraced it. Jack Krusinski, 16, of Palos Heights, won the 2.5 mile event with a time of…
Area Sports Roundup | Cougars get revenge on Marian, earn date with top seed
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The Saint Xavier defense made sure to get some revenge for a couple of losses in recent years to Marian University. The Cougars racked up 10 sacks, 15 tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and two interceptions in a 31-21 victory over Marian in the second round of…
Girls Hoops | St. Laurence stages huge comeback to win Beecher Tourney
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer This is not the way to start a championship game. But it’s a pretty good way to finish it. St. Laurence fell behind Rich Township, 19-0, in the Beecher Fall Classic final on Nov. 22. While it could have been easy for rookie coach Claire Austin and her…
Bedford Park officer shot Sunday morning
Spread the loveBy Bob Bong A Bedford Park police officer was in stable condition Sunday after he was shot while investigating a stolen car near the Speedway station at 6800 S. Archer Avenue. Police were responding to reports of a nearby car crash about 3:40 a.m. Police said a car reported stolen in a carjacking…
Property assessments released for Worth Township
Spread the loveCook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi last week released the initial assessments of residential and commercial properties in Worth Township. “I strongly encourage property owners to review their reassessment notice to ensure their property characteristics and market value reflect their home,” said Kaegi. “It is important to understand that assessments in Cook County reflect…
Temporary staffing agencies seek to block new state labor law
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – A group of temporary staffing agencies and their trade associations are asking a federal court to block enforcement of a new state law that governs how day laborers and temp workers are managed and paid. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Chicago, challenges several changes…
Former GOP senator, third-party governor candidate to represent himself in corruption trial
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois email@example.com SPRINGFIELD – Monday was supposed to have been the first day in the weeklong federal corruption trial of former Republican state Sen. Sam McCann, who allegedly misused more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. A pull-down projector screen in the Springfield courtroom of U.S. District Judge…
Candidates for 2024 primary brave cold for potential ballot advantage
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org SPRINGFIELD – Monday marked the kickoff for the 2024 election cycle, with hundreds of candidates filing their petitions at the Illinois State Board of Elections. Those in line by 8 a.m. Monday at the ISBE building in Springfield will be entered into a lottery to be the first…
State high court to hear case against staffing agencies accused of suppressing wages
By HANNAH MEISEL & DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois email@example.com The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments from three staffing agencies that say their industry is exempt from state antitrust laws in a case claiming the firms conspired to hold down wages for their workers. The Chicagoland-based companies have already lost twice in…
State high court skeptical municipal police and fire pension consolidation hurt retirees’ voting rights
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case alleging the state’s 2019 law that consolidated nearly 650 individual police and firefighter pension funds actually hurt retirees by diluting their voting power. The nearly three-dozen pensioners and 17 individual pension funds that sued over the law…
Pritzker designates additional $160M for migrant response as winter approaches
By HANNAH MEISEL & JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois email@example.com CHICAGO – As winter quickly approaches, Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced plans for the state to spend an additional $160 million to aid and house a sustained influx of migrants sent to Chicago from the nation’s southern border. The administration sold the plan as…
Candidate filing begins Monday, signaling official start of 2024 election cycle
By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org Monday morning marks the official beginning of the 2024 election cycle in Illinois, opening up the week-long period when candidates for local, state, congressional and judicial races are required to turn in the signatures they’ve spent the last two months collecting to get on the ballot. The…
State high court skeptical municipal police and fire pension consolidation hurt retirees’ voting rights
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois email@example.com The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case alleging the state’s 2019 law that consolidated nearly 650 individual police and firefighter pension funds actually hurt retirees by diluting their voting power. The nearly three-dozen pensioners and 17 individual pension funds that sued over the…
Iowa-Illinois carbon dioxide pipeline application withdrawn
By ANDREW ADAMS Capitol News Illinois firstname.lastname@example.org Plans for a pipeline that would have transported carbon dioxide from Iowa for eventual storage in central Illinois are off the table – for now. Wolf Carbon Solutions, the company behind the proposed project, filed a motion with state regulators on Monday to withdraw its application, although…
State school board weighs increased funding requests ahead of budget season
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois email@example.com SPRINGFIELD – Officials at the Illinois State Board of Education say they’re receiving more requests for increased funding for next year than the state could possibly afford, and they’re bracing for the possibility that budgets will start to tighten in the near future. “It does appear that…