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Knute K. Rockne

Knute Kenneth Rockne (1888 - 1931), the master football coach, has become a part of folklore not only at Notre Dame but in Rockne, Texas, the only town in the United States or anywhere named for him. Texas Sculptor Jerry McKenna donated a life-size portrait bust to the people of Rockne on March 4, 2006. A ceremony took place at the unveiling honoring Rockne on his 118th birthday. The bust is located in front of the Rockne Museum. Many mementoes of Rockne’s life are displayed in the Museum.

Click on photos below.

Postage Stamp Commemorating Knute Rockne   Knute Rockne Bust   Jerry McKenna and Nils Lars Rockne

Knute Rockne was born in Voss, Norway on March 4, 1888, the son of Lars and Martha Gjermo Rockne. The family immigrated to the United States in 1892 and settled in Chicago. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1914, Rockne remained at Notre Dame as a chemistry instructor and assistant football coach. In 1918, he was named head football coach and, over the next thirteen years, gained fame as the greatest football coach of all time. His "Fighting Irish" football teams won three national Championships in 1924, 1929 and 1930. He compiled a record of 195 wins, 12 losses and 5 ties for a winning percentage of .881 - the best record of any college or professional coach in American football history.

Knute K. RockneRockne served as Notre Dame’s athletic director, business manager, ticket distributor, track coach and equipment manager. He designed his own equipment and uniforms using his medical and anatomical knowledge to cut down on bulk and weight while increasing its protectiveness; he introduced the gold satin and silk pants that cut down on wind resistance. Rockne wrote a weekly newspaper column and authored three books. He was principle designer of Notre Dame Stadium. Rockne’s spiritual life was as systematic as his sports life. Originally a Lutheran, he married a Catholic girl, Bonnie Gwendolin Skiles, in 1914; and in 1925 he entered the Catholic Church. Rockne was a dedicated family man to his wife and their four children and for years raised much of the family’s food in his garden. Rockne also made several public speeches a year and served as a public spokesman for Studebaker. After the championship season of 1930, Rockne wanted to get away for a much needed rest and vacation but he was needed in Los Angeles to make a football demonstration movie. He boarded Transcontinental-Western’s flight 599 from Kansa City to Los Angeles on March 31, 1931. Shortly after takeoff, the plane encountered an ice storm and fell into a wheat field near Bazaar, Kansas. Rockne, a devout Catholic, was found with his rosary in his hands. He died at age forty-three at the height of his fame.

Other Links

The Official Site of Knute Rockne

The Unofficial Homepage of Knute Rockne