To: NFA nation
Re: Keep an eye on Washington state
In September, we told you about Zach Lewis, a Seattle-area quarterback and budding entrepreneur – http://nfanation.com/lewis-a-success-on-and-off-field/
A rising star at Eastside Catholic Middle School, Lewis also helped launch Creative Astronauts, an apparel company, in May of 2011.
On the other side of the state – Spokane – Jake Keyes is also doing remarkable things on and off the football field.
Keyes, who attended his first NFA camp last spring, threw for a touchdown and ran for 3 more in the first four games for Cataldo Catholic School this season.
Away from the field, he scored an even bigger accomplishment.
Let’s backtrack a bit.
Before he was even born, Jake’s father, Michael Keyes, became a big fan of Notre Dame football during the Lou Holtz era. NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana played for the Fighting Irish before Holtz arrived, but the Keyes family kept track of him during Montana’s glory days with the San Francisco 49ers.
“It all kind of started when my dad got me a 49ers hat and I started watching San Francisco,” Jake Keyes said. “Then I read a book Joe Montana wrote and that got me interested in Notre Dame.”
A visit to South Bend, Ind., for a football camp in 2010 further spurred Jake’s interest in ND football, and that led to another book.
This time, Jake was the author.
At the age of 10, he penned: “The Little Gipper’s Welcome to Notre Dame Football.”
The book is now available at littlegipper.com and is also on sale at Hammes Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus.
“I’m very excited about it,” Jake Keyes said. “It’s been a blast and I feel great. I really love Notre Dame football and I had a lot of fun writing the book.”
Let’s be honest. Most 10-year-old kids like goofing around with their friends, video games and TV.
Jake Keyes is not your average 10-year-old.
He was officially hooked on Fighting Irish football after attending the first of two football camps at Notre Dame. He also went to the ND-Southern Cal game last season for his 10th birthday.
Jake realized there weren’t any books on Fighting Irish football written for a younger reading audience, so he did something about it.
“He’s a pretty motivated kid,” Michael Keyes said. “No doubt about it.”
Writing any kind of book is not an easy task, and it took Jake Keyes a full year to finish the 105-page book.
“I would work on it every night and a ton over the weekend,” Jake said. “It took me a year, but it was a lot of fun and I’m really happy I was able to write the book.”
According to a story in the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, as Jake started writing the book he discovered Notre Dame has a policy requiring that permission be obtained from everyone whose picture or illustration appears in the book.
Jake spent hours writing letters and sending emails to clear the hurdle.
“Joe Montana was the last one,” Jake told the Spokane paper. “He was really hard to get in touch with. I was worried.”
On November 3, Jake will make another trip back to South Bend for the Notre Dame-Pitt game and he’ll be signing copies of “The Little Gipper’s Welcome to Notre Dame Football.”
“We are really looking forward to it,” Michael Keyes said. “The university has just been amazing, frankly.”
So has Jake Keyes, the kid quarterback and author.
“It’s hard,” Jake said. “But I’m always up early and I do a lot of stuff in the morning. There’s not much time to be doing other stuff.”
Keyes also takes piano lessons, and he spends a lot of time on the football field as well. With any luck, one day he’ll be taking snaps for the Fighting Irish.
“That is something I think about it and something I really want to,” Keyes said. “It’s such a great academic school and the football team has a great history.”
During his three years playing football, Keyes has been the quarterback. There is no other position he’d rather be playing.
“As the quarterback, you’re the leader of the team and that’s something I really like doing,” he said. “And I like throwing the ball. I like to throw and run it.”
When he sets his mind on something, Keyes has been a rousing success. That might be a big surprise considering his age, but he has strong family support and he’s not afraid to set lofty goals.
“My message to other kids my age would be always try your hardest,” Keyes said. “Don’t ever quit and keep pushing on.”
To: NFA nation