CHICAGO — On Monday, Notre Dame tight end Nic Weishar lit a candle at the university's famous Grotto to honor his late brother, Andrew.
Monday was the third anniversary of his brother's passing. He died on Oct. 12, 2012 at age 21 after a three-year battle with colorectal cancer.
As he did last Oct. 12, Nic Weishar selected a candle on one of the top rows in the center portion of the Grotto, lit it, and said a few prayers for Andrew.
"I always try to pick out the same spot," said Nic Weishar, who occasionally visits the Grotto to reflect on his brother's life. "It's a nice place to be. And on Monday, you remember him a little more than usual that day. That was pretty special just to be able to go out and go to the Grotto."
"Just a quick little prayer to Andrew to keep me safe and give me the competitive spirit that he had when he played," Weishar said Wednesday night. "Before Andrew passed, he told me, he pulled me aside and said you have to be something special for this family. He said I'm able to bring joy to the family through football."
Weishar's mother, Jean, said he's doing just that.
"Every time he steps on the field it gives our family so much joy," she said. "We can't help feel that Andrew is fulfilling his promise to Nic to do more than just watch over him from above."
Andrew Weishar was a standout defensive lineman at Brother Rice High School and Illinois Wesleyan University. His passing led to the formation of the Andrew Weishar Foundation and the annual WeishFest event — created and run by Weishar's older brother Danny — in the southwest suburbs.
Weishar said growing up as the youngest of three brothers gave him his tenacious competitive drive.
"I always was the youngest kid there," he said. "In order for me to play with the big boys, I had to hunker down and be that competitive guy."
That hunger to excel was evident even as a Marist freshman, said Redhawks coach Pat Dunne.
"He's the most competitive person I've ever been around, and he's always held himself to extremely high expectations," Dunne said. "A tremendous teammate here, a role model and not just in athletics, but academics, too."
The sophomore has a 3.49 grade point average in Notre Dame's business school and likely will major in finance. He'd possibly like to become a financial adviser or work a similar job as Danny, who's a commercial banking analyst at JPMorgan Chase and Co.
A future in the NFL is also on Weishar's mind. Dunne said Weishar is a likely NFL player because he works hard on all facets of his game, including route running and run blocking.
Weishar, who made his first career start for Notre Dame (5-1) in a close loss at Clemson, doesn't know if he'll start against the Trojans (3-2). He said it's simply an honor to get on the field for the Fighting Irish.
"Right now for me, it's about being the best Notre Dame tight end I can be," he said. "I've played a couple of games so far, and I've got a lot of work to do. There's a goal in mind to play in the NFL one day, and these are all just stepping stones to achieve that goal one day."
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