LaFleur to leave Sports Info Dept.
Chris Khorey | Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After 11 years in the Notre Dame Sports Information Department, Pete LaFleur is moving on.
LaFleur, a 1990 graduate of the University, will take a job as the public relations director for Geneva Glen summer camp in Evergreen, Colo.
During his time at the Sports Information Department, LaFleur worked with the hockey, golf, fencing, baseball and women’s soccer teams and – like the rest of the sports information staff – worked at every home football game. He is known among reporters and co-workers for his in-depth game wraps, extensive historical knowledge and the little-known statistics that were hallmarks of his notes packages.
LaFleur said that his slogan in life has always been to go the “extra mile.”
“That’s kind of been my approach,” he said. “I hope I don’t ever seem like I’m over doing it, but I try to give stuff what it deserves, whether it’s writing something, or researching it or just putting it in the right historical perspective.”
LaFleur also takes pictures for the athletic department’s Web site, und.com, during sporting events – something he said is “not in my job description,” but which, he said, the athletes deserve.
“If you have the time and creativity to put something in that’s going to make a difference to people’s memories and their enjoyment, that’s something that’s always been important to me,” he said.
On occasion, LaFleur includes statistics and notes that are comically obscure – to the point they are even noted by posters on Internet-message boards. One poster on NDNation.com gives out a weekly “Heisler Award,” erroneously named after Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler, which is given to the strangest or most humorous stat included in that week’s football game notes.
But a few jokes haven’t stopped LaFleur from looking deep into the annals of Notre Dame athletics history to find tidbits to compare to today, as he did during the 2006 women’s soccer season.
Then-sophomore forward Kerri Hanks scored 22 goals and 22 assists that season, both making her first in the nation. People knew that leading the nation in both categories was extremely rare, but they didn’t know how rare until LaFleur looked it up – and found out that the only other college player to ever lead the nation in both categories was future U.S. national team star Mia Hamm.
LaFleur, who is considered by some to be the nation’s best women’s soccer sports information director, said because historical records for women’s soccer were not well kept until recently, it was hard work tracing the statistics back through the years.
“Nobody knew that,” he said of the Hanks’ statistic. “I had to research and turn over a lot of rocks to figure it all out. It really legitimized what Kerri did that season. People were like, ‘Wow, she did something only the great Mia Hamm had ever done.'”
Because of LaFleur’s research skills, he is often chosen to write historical features for und.com. He has written several obituaries for the Web site, including those for former football stars Angelo Bertelli, Leon Hart and Harry Oliver.
Most recently, LaFleur wrote the obituary for Ryan Shay, the former Notre Dame track star who died during an Olympic marathon trial in New York on Nov. 3. Upon seeing the story on the Web site, Shay’s family contacted LaFleur to thank him.
“That makes it all worthwhile, when the family says it means something to them,” he said.
His hard work has not gone unnoticed. LaFleur has earned several honors for his thorough media guides, including having the 2006 baseball media guide ranked No. 1 in the country by the College Sports Information Directors Association, commonly known as CoSIDA.
But all that hard work has taken its toll on LaFleur. He said when his friends come back from campus for football games, he rarely gets to spend much time with them.
“A lot of my friends will come back and I get to see them for like 10 minutes because I’ve got a soccer game on Friday, then the football game on Saturday and a soccer game on Sunday,” he said.
LaFleur, who is unmarried and wants the time needed to start a family, said the rigors of his job limit how often he sees his relatives.
“I’ve had to miss a lot of weddings,” he said. “For my nieces and nephews, I’ve missed a lot of baptisms and stuff.”
And because of that, LaFleur is returning to his roots. He attended Geneva Glen in his youth and worked as a counselor there during the summers in the early 1990s, just after graduating from Notre Dame.
In his new position, LaFleur will help Geneva Glen with their ambitious new marketing program, which includes upgrades to their Web site and brochures.
“It’s more of a nine-to-five job than what I have now,” he said.
But LaFleur won’t completely leave sports behind. He said he plans to do freelance work, including possibly television and radio broadcasting. He is also considering starting a college fencing web site.
Both LaFleur’s uncle and father graduated from Notre Dame, as did both of his sisters and three of his cousins. He lived in Holy Cross Hall before the dorm was torn down – and he stayed a few extra days to make sure he was the last one to live in it.
In addition to working for The Observer, Scholastic and the Sports Information Department while in school, LaFleur was also elected president of Holy Cross Hall.
LaFleur’s first job after college was at the University of San Francisco, where he was paid $5,000 a year to do stats for all of their athletic teams. The job only ran during the school year, so he returned to Geneva Glen to work during the summers.
In 1995, LaFleur took a job at University of Virginia, but only stayed there for a year before finding out about a job opening at Notre Dame.
As he gets ready to leave, LaFleur said he is trying to get as much work done as possible for the fencing team so as not to leave his co-workers out to dry.
“I’ve been working really hard to get ahead so I can just hand it off,” he said. “I know what it’s like when people leave and you have to pick up the slack. It’s kind of been wearing me out a little.”