Nov. 20, 2013
By Josh Dempsey '16
Having the academic prowess to attend a university such as Notre Dame is an accomplishment not many people can boast. Even fewer people can say they are capable of succeeding both academically and athletically at such a top tier university. Patrick Crowley is one of the people in this infinitesimally small percentile.
Crowley earned on spot on the Irish men's basketball team as a walk-on in the fall of 2011, meaning he is not a scholarship athlete, but does make the same commitment and have the same time demands as the other players who are on scholarship.
Crowley is originally from Chapel Hill, N.C., but spent his teenage years in Los Gatos, Calif., and attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View. He co-captained the varsity basketball team as a senior and helped the St. Francis Lancers to a 60-7 record in his two-year tenure with the team. With Crowley's help and leadership as a senior, the 2010 St. Francis Lancers were the first team in the 53-year history of the West Catholic Athletic League to go 14-0 in league play. Crowley's team ended their season as Northern California champions and California state finalists. Crowley was then named to the all-NorCal Division II first team.
Despite his obvious athletic talent, Crowley still held his academics and extracurricular life outside of basketball to a very high standard. He graduated with high honors from St. Francis, was president of the Service Club, and also served as student body vice president. With a demanding academic schedule and vast extracurricular timetable, time management for Crowley was an essential skill.
"My coach expected a lot out of us as a team," Crowley says. Academics were a big thing for him, so we were expected to keep a 3.3 GPA or you didn't play. You learned to balance school and basketball."
With his talent, honors, and accolades, Crowley would have been a valuable asset athletically and academically to many collegiate varsity programs.
"I talked with the coach at St. Mary's College (Moraga, CA) and I was told I could walk-on to the team if I chose. I also told myself that I was really only going to look at Division I or Division II schools who showed interest in me. I had to be realistic with myself; I had to get a good education because this [playing basketball] was only going to last for so long."
"When it came down to it, I was either going to go to Villanova or Notre Dame and focus on my academics."
Making the choice to attend Notre Dame also was due to some external influence as well. Crowley is a fifth-generation Domer. His father, Michael, is a 1985 graduate and current president of the Oakland Athletics. The benefits of a Notre Dame education were quite obvious for Pat growing up, so his decision to attend Notre Dame was not a terribly difficult one.
But the transition from a student to a student-athlete was not quite as easy for Crowley.
"I was cut my freshman year, so I was living in the dorms and I managed my time well," he says. "It was a good experience--the dorm life and academics. I got to develop that core group of friends in the dorm that I otherwise wouldn't have had if I'd made the team that year. Also, having that extra time let me focus on my grades." Crowley's focus did not stray from his academics, but his goal to make the team did not change either.
"As a sophomore it was different. I was asked to come back for a second tryout. It was just me and one other guy, and just the two of us were put through a workout. It was the most strenuous workout of my life because the entire team was there watching and evaluating."
After achieving his goal of making the team, Crowley described the new way of life as a student-athlete.
"That first semester on the team was a rough one for me," says the senior finance major in the Mendoza College of Business. "I was used to an hour or an hour and a half of basketball on top of school; this was two-play hours of practices and then you're on the road for games too--it becomes your life. You're expected to do more, but it's well worth it.
"It was really a matter of kicking the time-management skills back into gear. I experienced that dip a little bit in academics, but you see that and assess it. I picked it back up and was able to then balance the basketball and school work."
At the end of the day, Crowley understands that his days of playing basketball will come to an end, but because of his academic drive his future is still quite bright. Crowley boasts a 3.18 gpa and he is already looking beyond his college basketball career.
"I'm really looking at getting into the business side of sports, specifically sports apparel" Crowley says. "The Monogram Club does a great job of helping us establish connections with graduates working in the fields we're considering, so it's an amazing resource."
ESPN came in the other day and we got to meet with them and get information about working for them in a variety of positions. It's great because not a lot of other schools offer similar opportunities like that. It's comforting to have those kinds of options."
These options might never have materialized for Crowley had it not been for his time management and ability to succeed on the court and in the classroom. Crowley is a true manifestation of a Notre Dame student-athlete. While the lights may turn off on the court for him some day, his future is looking quite bright.