SCP: Pat, tell us about writing the Sports and Faith Series that you have published with Sporting Chance Press.
PM: I had written a book on my grandfather, George Halas, called Bear With Me: A Family History of George Halas and the Chicago Bears published by Triumph Books. I had also written booklets about special topics of importance to the Chicago Bears team and various projects over decades that were privately published. I had an ambition to write a book that included both sports and faith topics. My family is all about sports and faith. Our association with Bears also afforded us the opportunity to promote various charitable and civic causes. We had been involved with wonderful people who had done tremendous things so I wanted to tell their stories. Sporting Chance Press took an interest in the project. Our first book in the Series was Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout. This book is effectively sold out—although you can probably find a copy here or there. We continued with four more books: Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, Pilgrimage, Worthwhile Struggle, and Sportsmanship (all currently available). We have at least one more in the pipeline.
SCP: Pat, do you have an elevator speech on the Sports and Faith books.
PM: My publisher will tell you that I am concise to a science, but I am not sure about an elevator speech. Books in the Series all have stories about athletes, coaches, and other people who live exemplary lives. My publisher has coined a phrase: “We Promote the Good.” So the books are positive. The series also has a good portion of McCaskey/Halas history—personal stories that reflect who we are and how we got there. Bears’ history is another topic that is in all the books. And another feature that I enjoy including is a certain amount of creative writing and humor. I have been speaking to the public for several decades and I have a sense of what has been effective in the speeches and try to follow that when put together my books. Readers often get references to my personal literary and comedic heroes. I was able to include one comprehensive chapter on literary heroes in Sportsmanship, the fifth Sports and Faith book.
SCP: Pat, I understand that the Sports and Faith books fit in nicely with some other projects that are dear to you.
PM: The McCaskeys keep George Halas’s legacy alive by advancing the Chicago Bears and doing good in our community (How’s that for an elevator speech?). This has led me to becoming one spokesman for the Bears. There are civic audiences where I discuss Bears’ history and religious audiences where I talk about faith-based education and yes, sports and faith. I am also Chair of Catholic Radio Station WSFI as well as founder and Chair of an initiative called Sports Faith International that recognizes athletes who lead exemplary lives. All these activities feed seamlessly into my Sports and Faith Series of books.
SCP: So how did you come up with your new book, Poems About the Gospel?
PM: I am tempted to give you a short answer here, but let me take a few lines to explain. I have always had a calling to write and that calling lived side-by-side with another calling to take my athletic talents to the limit. My ambition was to follow my high school football career (which I enjoyed) with college ball and perhaps even play in the pros like my grandfather. I graduated from Notre Dame High School in Niles and enrolled at Cheshire Academy, a prep school, for a little extra football experience and study with an eye towards enrolling at the University of Notre Dame. But that summer, I developed a serious eye problem with no good treatment options at the time. I switched gears and devoted myself to literature, writing, and speaking. I had to avoid contact sports, but I was able to compete at Cheshire in cross country and also ran in college at Indiana University. However, additional health problems required that most of my efforts were focused on getting a college degree. After graduation from Indiana University, I joined the Bears staff and among many duties was asked to give speaking presentations. I eventually went to graduate school for public speaking and performance. Modern science has helped me overcome my vision problems, but I don’t expect to be drafted anytime soon.
While most of my time was devoted to the Chicago Bears, I also squeezed in time for creative writing. Some of that time was devoted to poetry, which I enjoy. The Sports and Faith Series provided an outlet for some poems in each book, but another project created enough poems for a book solely devoted to them.
I have been a lector for Catholic Masses serving at Saint Mary’s and Saint Patrick’s parishes in Lake Forest. I have been composing Biblical poems based on the writings of the Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For a time, I recited one poem at church each week after Mass. With a lot of faith and a little humor, the response from the parishioners has been very heartwarming. In 2020, I sent 150 poems to my publisher and he produced Poems About the Gospel—all poems, all Biblical, all Evangelists.
SCP: Thanks for the backstory on Poems About the Gospel. How are the books sold?
PM: You can buy Poems About the Gospel at Amazon and at my publisher’s website at sportingchancepress.com. Poems About the Gospel is available at select bookstores like the Little Way in Crystal Lake and other retail outlets that are being sorted out.