NORMAN — Late one night a few years ago, Chris Kochendorfer was running the stairs of Oklahoma's football stadium. He used those cement steps as extra training to stay in shape for his gig as an OU cheerleader.
As he finished and walked out, he saw Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops' car parked just off the field. Stoops was near his car, so Kochendorfer went over and talked with the coach for a few minutes before both went their separate ways.
“I never told him about my lineage,” Kochendorfer said.
That night, one of Oklahoma's greatest football coaches met the great-grandson of one of college football's greatest coaches.
Christopher Knute Kochendorfer’s lineage is traced through his father’s mother, the daughter of legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne. Kochendorfer's grandmother, Mary Jane, moved to Oklahoma with her husband, who studied seismology.
Rockne was head coach at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1930, where he set the greatest winning percentage of .881 with 102 wins, 12 losses and fives ties. In 13 seasons, Rockne led the Fighting Irish to six national championships and five undefeated seasons without a tie.
Rockne's memory lives on through a statue at Notre Dame Stadium. Through his famous practice sweater that is framed in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. Through the office of his great grandson's Oklahoma City home.
Hung on the wall across from his desk is a shadow box containing some of Rockne's belongings.
There's a faded black-and-white photo of the Rockne family, and a photo of his great grandfather and a friend with the writing of their conversation on the back. There's the yellow-stained coaches' card from the American Football Coaches Association for K.K. Rockne in 1926.
“One day, I'll pass it along,” Kochendorfer said about giving the things to the University of Notre Dame. “Right now, it's still too personal.”
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