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Jun 21, 2010

From Lange to Longo

Editor's note: Irish Creed completed the following story on Saturday, June 19, and planned to publish it at a later date. It was researched and composed entirely independent of Pat Forde's article today that focuses on Paul Longo with a reference to Father Lange.

Top-notch strength and conditioning has returned to Notre Dame football.

Brian Kelly brought ‘third coordinator’ and strength guru Paul Longo to ND for their seventh season together. Longo’s intensity and ingenuity connect him to Rev. Bernard H.B. Lange, C.S.C., a former de facto Irish football strength coach from Rockne to Parseghian. Their similarities—uncommon exercises, ultra intensity, extreme demonstrations of mental and physical strength—surpass differences in training methods that have naturally accrued over time.

East Prussian-born Lange, the strongman-priest, operated a Brownson Hall weight room for all ND students during the mid-twentieth century. Although Lange lacked the sort of title that Longo carries, weightlifting expert John Wood said Lange became Notre Dame’s “secret weapon” after beginning work with the football team in 1922. Mike Burgener, class of 1968 and a member of the ’66 title team, said “the biggest reason for me choosing to go to Notre Dame was because of Father Lange.”

While Longo has probably not been a deciding factor on a specific ND recruit to this point, new running backs coach Tim Hinton says if a prospect “has X amount of talent, I guarantee you coach Longo will make that an X-plus.” With Longo, Kelly is 42-1 when entering the fourth quarter with the lead.

Lange pioneered unusual exercises, a trait that lives on in Longo. The “ingenious leg press device designed and built by Father Lange” was a staple of his workouts. Longo is likewise inventive with his physical constructions such as the 80-yard training sand pit called Longo Beach and counterpart uphill pitch nicknamed Mt. Longo. According to ESPN’s Brian Bennett, “Longo has been known to ask his guys to lift unusual items like tires and perform what's called a Farmer's Walk, where you walk while carrying a heavy object in each hand.”

Longo is a modern match for Lange’s intensity. Former ND baseball player Kent Durso said “Father Lange ran the gym the way Bismarck ran Europe.” Ed Fitzpatrick, class of ‘69, recalled another exchange: “…in 1927 he was considered the 4th strongest man in the world and held the world record for the bench press at 407 pounds for 7 reps. I asked him why 7 reps. He said he was trying for 10 but started to laugh for some reason and had to stop.” Spring 2010 workouts induced more than one ND player to lose his lunch. Longo’s reaction? “I don’t even blink.”

Longo’s mental toughness offering, Camp Kelly, teaches players to “operate when you are extremely uncomfortable,” such as its first two ND installments at 5:00 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring break. Lange spread mental toughness to players by example, or at least via the memory of one of his own stunts as a student. After climbing atop the Dome and placing “his right arm around Our Lady,” Lange led police on “a frantic chase through St. Ed's Hall and down to St. Mary's Lake, where he made good his escape by swimming under the ice to the far shore, where he broke from the lake headfirst and disappeared into the woods,” according to 1970 graduate Dr. Paul G. Gill, Jr., M.D., and later told in Jim Dent’s Resurrection: The Miracle Season that Saved Notre Dame.

Today, the Rockne Memorial weight room is named for Lange. Longo doesn’t work with non-varsity athletes, but he is now part of ND’s strength and conditioning tradition that Lange built. Although today’s methods seem tame compared to the most legendary weightlifting priest of all time, Longo has the same intensity and ingenuity to do Lange—and Notre Dame—proud.


  1. Great article. I think we'll really see this pay off with the team, especially later in the season. September 4th can't come soon enough!

  2. hey eric! helloooooooooooooooooooooo

  3. Can't wait til kickoff either man! Our team will be in so much better shape come 4th quarter and at end of the season when we make our run to a bowl victory!


2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(