November 24th, 2010

Passafiume Remains Humble In Success

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Passafiume Remains Humble In Success
photo courtesy of the Passafiume Family

St. Xavier grad breaking college football records at Hanover

When you ask Daniel Passafiume about his successful football career at Hanover, you might think his first thoughts would reference the fact that he is on track to become the No. 2 all-time receiver in all of college football. On any level.

You might also think that he would bring up his thoughts on breaking Jerry Rice’s all-division, single-game record of 25 receptions last season.

But before anything, Passafiume talks about God and his family, and how they have put him in a position to succeed.

“I think God put me in the right place, and I’ve been blessed with the success I’ve had,” said Passafiume. “My parents have taught me the right priorities. They’ve been everything. Family is instrumental. They raised all of us (five children) the same way.”

Passafiume comes from a well-known Catholic family in the Louisville community. His parents – Paul and Jean Passafiume – have been great influences on sports in the area for years.

Paul just completed coaching his 18th season with the St. Agnes-St. Francis 7th & 8th grade football team, and Jean has been known for years as “the behind the scenes woman” who helped St. Xavier High School’s football team – a program that three of Passafiume boys played for throughout the years.

“We have taught our children to be Christ-centered, no matter what they do,” said Jean. “If you don’t have Christ, you have nothing. Daniel was taught that from early on.”

Along with their contributions to citywide athletics, Paul and Jean have been fearless leaders of faith for the local Catholic community, as well.

Paul founded Sports Leader in August of 2004, through the form of a website offering information on virtue and character development in sports. The company has flourished into an international non-profit organization, which works with thousands of athletes worldwide. 

Jean has been part of many different service projects, and she currently volunteers her time at a pregnancy center to help young women.  St. Xavier football Head Coach Mike Glaser noted the couple’s ongoing service and influence at St. X and St. Agnes.

“They put their faith and family first. They give their time and effort to the love of teaching kids,” said Glaser. “Paul is more than a coach; he’s a mentor to those kids. They’ve both had a great impact on me.”

Jean works to be involved in the lives of young athletes at every chance possible. After football practices in St. X’s parking lot, Jean would talk to the players about attending a youth group at St. Agnes. Coach Glaser talked about how Paul and Jean’s faith-filled influence on his own players is obvious when you take a look at Daniel.

“He is one of the finest men I’ve ever coached,” said Glaser referring to Daniel Passafiume. “You know, in high school we looked at two positions for Daniel – as quarterback and receiver. No matter what happened or what he played, he never complained or got down on himself. He was a ‘team’ guy. He’s grown tremendously and has done a great job in college. His attitude and faith are reasons for his success.”

After a successful run at St. X, Daniel put up his football uniform and attended the University of Louisville as a full time student. But he learned quickly how much he missed playing ball under the bright lights.

“I wanted to buckle down, and be a regular college student,” said Daniel. “But once football season started, I realized how much I missed it. I knew I had made a mistake. It was hard all during my freshmen year to go to college games or to even watch them on TV, and I knew I could be making more of myself. That season off made me realize ‘I need to be back in this.’“

Daniel says that he quickly started to look for a school where he could contribute to playing football, and he examined Centre and Hanover as his options. When he decided on Hanover, he said he had reservations at first.

“At that point, I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I prayed to God for strength, and I’m grateful for where I am,” said Daniel.

Daniel credits his parents and good friend from St. Xavier, Victor Anderson, for helping him have a positive attitude to get back on the field.

“My mom knew I wasn’t done, and my dad stood behind me," said Daniel. "I surrounded myself with good people who helped me make my decision. Victor believed in me, and he supported my football career."

Now, Passafiume looks back with thankfulness to where God has placed him in his life.  As does Joe Austin, Hanover’s head football coach.

“We knew Daniel would be a talented player. Daniel came into a program that’s been building, and he’s led since he got here,” said Austin. “You know, Daniel is the one guy that doesn’t have a bad day.  At practice, he’ll run himself until he gets sick, then he keeps running. Off the field, he carries himself well too. He’s a quality guy all around.”

Austin says that he can definitely see where Daniel’s family has helped influence him to become the man he is today.

“Jean is just so energetic. She’s involved in our events for the football program, and Paul has come to speak to the guys on character and teamwork. They both just always are there and asking, ‘Coach, what do you need?.” said Austin. “It helps too because they were involved at St. X, and they know what it means to come from a good program. Daniel has the fire his mom has, and the drive his father has, and that shows everyday.”

Daniel added more regarding the influence his parents have had on his career.

 “My mom is driven, and she always has had the upmost confidence in me. She knows every player on the team, and she is so involved with what’s going on.  And my dad is a rock in his faith and leadership. He let me know the truth about the Lord and about faith. He always said, ‘People are attracted to the truth.’ And I have always remembered that,” said Daniel, “They are two of the most generous people I know.”

Daniel said that going away to Hanover has helped him mature and grow up on his own from academic, athletic and personal standpoints.

“School wise, I’m learning a lot. It’s a small school with great academics. It’s been hard to balance athletics and academics, but I’m getting through it,,” said Daniel, “St. X taught me about discipline and how to learn to win. I learned in high school how to get the work done, how to focus and give all of my effort.

“My dad taught me that too,” Daniel continued. “Looking back, I feel like I had a lot to prove still after high school.  At first, I would call my mom all the time because I hated camp. Once we got into practices, I knew I could do it. I just had to keep my faith in it, and the seniors helped me get my confidence back.”

Coach Mike Glaser mirrored Daniel’s comment about St. Xavier academics and reasoning of why St. Xavier athletes go on to make major contributions to their college teams.

“We never make football more than it is. It’s a game,” said Glaser. “We teach the boys to be the best they can be whether it’s football, or school, or whatever they do. With the help of God, these players do great things. Faith is a tremendous part of our team. We play for the fun of it, and we want it to be an enjoyable experience. That’s why we see many of our guys want to play after high school.”

Daniel is hopeful to have a great future in football ahead of him at Hanover, and his current college coach says professional football is a definite possibility.

“Absolutely there will be somebody wanting him,” said Austin. “It may be European ball, NFL or another league. He continues to work on increasing physical strength, and that’s key. Daniel’s had the kind of stats that are looked at all the time. It’s always a long shot coming from a small team, but he’s definitely good enough to play.”

Daniel added that he would love to play as long as he can, but he also sees entrepreneurship in his future, just like his dad.

“I want to get into the restaurant business eventually, just like my dad. I watched him manage franchises growing up. Fortunately for me, I’ve learned from a good example of how to run a business.”

 His parents say, above all else, that they want him to stay true to the values they have instilled in him.

 “I would hope that Daniel strives to be a solid man of character,” said Paul. “Other than that, I want him to be happy in his vocation or calling, strive for greatness, and be willing to serve others.”

Jean added that she knows Daniel will continue to see success down the road with the characteristics he already exudes.

Said Jean: “He’s mentally tough and selfless. He’s going to do great things in this life. He already has. God’s plans are bigger than all of us. We are here to use the gifts He gave us, and Daniel is an example of using God given gifts the right way.”


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