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Thomas Bemenderfer: Offensive lineman to enter medical school after graduation

Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, November 21, 2008

While some of his classmates will be looking into the job market and others will be preparing for the NFL draft in April, lineman Thomas Bemenderfer will be getting ready for medical school.

The Mishawaka native only applied at one school – preferring to stay in-state at Indiana – and said he feels confident about being accepted there. He has already taken his interview for IU, but has not heard back yet.

Bemenderfer is a Science Pre-Professional major enrolled in the College of Science, and has also made the Dean’s List. He said that combining a rigorous academic schedule with football has been one of the more rewarding parts of his college experience.

“It’s probably one of the most valuable things I’ve learned by taking hard courses and doing football at the same time is time management,” Bemenderfer said. “You always have to realize what you have to get done, when you need to do it. To be successful, you have to put a lot of time in.”

Bemenderfer added that the benefits that come from his busy schedule should pay off in the long run.

“One of the things you sacrifice is free time, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it to do well in school, it’s really worth it to do well in football,” he said.

Despite seeing limited playing time during his time with the Irish, Bemenderfer has taken his work ethic from the classroom and applied it to the practice field.

“You can never take a play off, you can never choose to be lazy, because if you’re doing that you’re not getting better,” he said.

Offensive line coach John Latina said this hardworking personality is one of the things that has made Bemenderfer such an asset to the line during his time at Notre Dame. One major result of his hard work is that Bemenderfer can play at all three interior line positions.

“He’s a guy who’s been around a long time. Understands concepts, understands our blocking schemes and our plays. It’s a great advantage when we can do that,” Latina said.

Latina added that Bemenderfer has been a great role model for other players in terms of his work ethic and study habits.

“I think a lot of the younger players look up to him because they respect his hard work ethic, he’s a tough kid, he’s smart,” Latina said. “They see that he’s played multiple positions, and the only way you do that is become a student of the game. And they also know his off-the-field habits in the classroom. I think he’s a great guy to emulate if you’re a young player.”

Even though Bemenderfer grew up in South Bend and had two older brothers attend Notre Dame, his first choice was Northwestern, where he received a full athletic scholarship. However, after the death of former Wildcats coach Randy Walker, Bemenderfer decided to transfer to Notre Dame.

Bemenderfer said the decision was a tough one to make since he was walking away from a guaranteed free ride without any guarantee of making the football team.

“I took a leap of faith without any promises and without talking to the coaching staff and everything turned out really well and I got really lucky,” he said.

But when it came down to it, Bemenderfer decided he had to follow his dreams.

“When it comes down to it, you only live life once, you might as well do it the way you want to and live your dreams,” he said of his decision to transfer.

Going to Notre Dame was always a dream for Bemenderfer, one that started when his father would take him to games as a child.

“It was just an incredible experience, walking around, seeing all the people, the emotion, walking around campus and seeing the tradition. Everything about Notre Dame is magical,” Bemenderfer said.

All of Bemenderfer’s hard work and gutsy decisions have paid off so far, as he has earned a scholarship each of the last two seasons.

“It puts you on top of the world when you get that scholarship and you know that all your hard work had some kind of result.

But not even that could go to Bemenderfer’s head.

“[The scholarship] just motivated me to work harder,” he said.