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John Amato '76 (2005)

A portion of the chain-link fence that runs alongside Loyola's track once again bulged out awkwardly, bent and deformed by the repetitious swing-through of a hurdler's trail leg. A tall, blonde young man leaned into the fence, methodically and effortlessly pounding it into submission as he drilled and drilled and drilled. An athlete of uncompromising dedication, a perfectionist who embraced hard work and the challenge of big competition, John C. Amato translated speed, stamina, and an unstinting commitment to excellence into noteworthy success on both the track and the gridiron. John's approach to athletics was rooted in a youth spent at the side of his father. Growing up the son of a Loyola coach in the late 1960's, John witnessed first-hand some of the greatest athletes on some of the greatest teams in Rambler history. He saw up close how they trained, how they competed, how they overcame adversity, how they won. The experiences of those early years left their mark. All John wanted was to be part of that tradition, to have the privilege and an honor of competing as a Loyola Rambler. When it was his turn, John brought to his endeavors the lessons his father had instilled in him: no matter how much success you achieve today, tomorrow you must start over and prove yourself again. Whether as the multi-event, record-setting captain of the track team or as the starting defensive back of a Final-Four football team, John was the consummate team player, competing by a code that demanded the sacrifice of personal glory in order to achieve communal ends. On the track, John was quite simply one of the finest hurdlers in Loyola track and field history, setting seven hurdle records in his career, including new marks in all the indoor and outdoor straightaway races. However, he refused to become merely a hurdles specialist. Nothing speaks more eloquently of his career and his character than his subordination of individual goals to those of his team. In addition to his customary brilliance in the high and low hurdle races, he scored big points in the physically demanding triple jump, putting together a string of 40-foot jumps. Fittingly, John also gravitated to the relays, the ultimate team events in track and field. In the most important meets, with titles on the line, John sought the maximum points for the team. He was committed to competing in four events even if it cost him a little portion of personal glory. To do so was a badge of honor. On the gridiron, John's speed and superior athleticism at starting safety made him a pivotal member of the 1975 state semi-final team (Hall of Fame, 2002). Physical, fast, and intense, John was a bruising hitter and a skilled pass defender as well as a solid punt-return and kick-off return man. He brought to the Rambler defense the maturity and competitive zeal to face the toughest adversary. Unheralded but not forgotten by the Rambler faithful was John's game-saving defensive stop in the state quarterfinal game against Hersey. While pursuing his accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame, John played football for the Irish as a walk-on wide receiver for three seasons, from 1977 through 1979. He also competed in the high hurdles for the Notre Dame track team, and even served a year as head coach of the Irish women's program in 1981. John earned his B.B.A. from Notre Dame in 1981, followed by an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1985.

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