Kelly Tripucka inducted into Ring of Honor
Mannion McGinley | Monday, February 3, 2020
On Saturday afternoon, with the lights dimmed at half time in Purcell Pavilion and two spotlights trained on him and his new hanging banner, Kelly Tripucka took the mic during his induction into the Ring of Honor, a tradition started by the current men’s head basketball coach at Notre Dame, coach Mike Brey.
Tripucka started by addressing the crowd, acknowledging the people who would know who he was and also acknowledging the students and joking with them.
“Probably a lot of people here don’t know who I am, I know some of the older people know who I am,” Tripucka said and then pointed at the student section. “You guys can google me, alright, but you’re still the best.”
The ceremony continued as Tripucka looked to the new banner in awe.
“This is very humbling, it’s an honor to be back at Notre Dame and to hang up there with some of the people that I used to watch as a kid, some of the greats of the game,” he said.
Tripucka then acknowledged the many people who he had to thank.
“I’ve got to thank some people [that were here] during my time, almost 40 years ago. Boy does time fly, the days go by slow and the years go by fast,” Tripucka said. “There were some special people in my life here when I was a Notre Dame student, Father Ted Hesburgh and Ed Joyce, they were awesome. Awesome.”
After a quick shout out to Morrisey Manor and the small rooms he stayed in and loved, he continued to thank the people in his life.
“I have to thank my teammates,” Tripucka said. “I’ve been praising them all weekend and I still want to praise them because you don’t get here without teammates and my guys are special. The best era ever in Notre Dame basketball history, no question about it.”
The final group Tripucka had left to thank was his family.
“I have to thank my mom,” Tripucka said. “She’s 92, she couldn’t make it here. She was a big fan of mine and she still is… and my dad would have loved this. He passed away about six and a half hears ago. Former Notre Dame quarterback, four undefeated seasons, he would’ve had a ball here at this.”
Then with his head turned to the sky and pointed up, calling out “Miss you dad.”
He turned then to thank the rest of his “brothers, friends and sisters” as well as his wife Jess and his three children.
Before the induction, Tripucka gave the story of his time at Notre Dame.
“You know, I grew up on this place. I knew more about it than the guys that probably were already here. But that wasn’t why I came,” Tripucka said. ”You know, people just assume because my father went here, I had to come here. He probably wanted me to come here. But he also let me make my own decision as it should be … But I’m certainly thrilled that I chose here.”
But today, campus doesn’t look quite the way Tripucka remembers it.
“I don’t even recognize campus anymore,” Tripucka said. “It’s changed. I would love to have another trial year with the facilities they got here and, and all that’s going on, because there wasn’t much to do. So we were just basketball players and students that was it. But that’s what made us who we are. And that’s important. There’s no question about it.”
It wasn’t only the place, that Tripucka credited the greatness of his four years to but his teammates as well.
“I’ve been fortunate to play with great guys, we’re still pretty friendly,” Tripucka said. “We don’t see each other a whole lot but we communicate when we can and, you know, life goes by in a blur. Days go slow and the years go fast. You know, we all get up there in age. It’s hard to believe next year will be 40 years since I graduated, I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the last 20. So it’s, it’s an honor to be here to do this and have your name up there with some great players, obviously, that I admired and just to be in included in that is great I don’t know what else to say.”
The current basketball team received some inspiring words from Tripucka as well before Saturday’s game, advice stemming directly from the experience he had here and afterwards.
“I said ‘Guys, time goes quickly. We lost a legend last weekend suddenly, you know, call your parents if you have them, call your friends or whatever, just to say hello,’ and they’re so young, and they don’t know what’s ahead of them,” Tripucka said. “But if they want to get to my level, you know, or some other pros level, you got to work at it, …love this game, trust one another, and worry about the little things.”
Tripucka commented on the Irish’s season so far this year.
“I’ve seen six games where they’ve lost by less than five points or something,” he said. “If you won four of those, you’re 12-8 now I think, you’d be 16-4. That’s a huge difference. It’s about the little things. Whether it’s in life or playing basketball, making sure you wait on a screen or how to set a screen or don’t have a turnover, know the clock, time and situation … And in those situations, if you think and believe and trust your teammates, I think we’ll get over the hump.”