SPOKANE, Wash. – Jake Keyes is a Spokane fifth grader who loves Notre Dame Football so much he did something not many adults have even done--he wrote a book about his favorite team.
The book is called “The Little Gipper” and it chronicles the history of Notre Dame football from a child’s perspective.
Jake’s love of Notre Dame didn’t necessarily come from his parents. Neither of them attended the school, but they are both fans. Jake started loving Notre Dame when he attended a youth football camp three years ago at the school in South Bend.
While he was there he went to the campus bookstore to buy a book about the Fighting Irish, but he didn’t find any for kids his age. So he set out to write the book himself.
"There were times I'd walk in here and he'd have two computers going, three different books going and actually wanting to see who is correct because some facts were different in different books," said his mom, Theresa.
Jake's dad, Mike, contacted Notre Dame about using player pictures.
“I told them, look, my son is a crazy Notre Dame fan and wants to write this book and wants to sell it in the bookstore so, what do we do?", said Mike.
This is where Jake’s task got hard.
“There are a lot of hoops to jump through from the University side to make sure they actually represent the University's intentions and what they stand for," said Keith Kirkpatrick of the Notre Dame Bookstore.
But Jake was up to it. He wrote dozens of letters to former players and coaches and the permissions came pouring in from people like Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Lattner and Paul Hornung and great quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Rick Mirer. Legendary Irish coach Lou Holtz loved the request so much he wrote the forward to the book.
Mirer told KREM 2 News that Jake “was wondering if he could use my name and likeness and I said ‘Absolutely.’ I'm impressed with the project he was taking on."
Notre Dame is impressed, too. They've agreed to sell "The Little Gipper" in their bookstore, and invited Jake for a book signing on November 3 when the Irish play Pittsburgh.
“The book itself was a good concept. The best part of it was it was written by a 10-year-old from their perspective, which is really who we try to engage," said Kirkpatrick.
When asked if he wants to be an author or a football player Jake said he won't just settle for one.
“I want to be both," said Jake.
His mom said he has the drive to do it.
“He said, ‘Well, mom, I'm up at 5:15 or 5:30 at the latest every day because I've got stairs to run at Joe Albi, I've got push ups, I've got sit-ups,’" said Theresa.
His football coach at Cataldo Catholic School, Tom McKeirnan, knows about great football players as a former All-State linebacker at Gonzaga Prep and college linebacker at Santa Clara. He likes what he sees in Jake at age 10. McKeirnan said his Cataldo team can do things on offense that his former teams could not just because Jake is so talented.
McKeirnan also called Jake “a modern day Renaissance man” with his talents in chess, the piano and basketball. “And he’s probably the most polite kid you’ll ever meet,” said McKeirnan.
Jake will use any money he receives from the sale of his book to pay for his college education, which he hopes will be at Notre Dame.
KREM 2 News will be following Jake to South Bend for his book signing in November.