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Greg Gumbel in Wheaton to share lessons learned from sports
By Robert Sanchez | Daily Herald Staff

St. Francis High School football coach Greg Purnell and CBS Sports broadcaster Greg Gumbel were baseball teammates when they attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Purnell asked Gumbel to visit St. Francis in Wheaton.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/26/2010 11:31 AM

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Through the years, Greg Gumbel has seen a countless number of athletes overcome adversity to achieve their goals.

The experience has shown the CBS Sports broadcaster there are valuable life lessons that can be learned from tossing a football or swinging a baseball bat.

"I am a firm believer that what you learn in sports can often be put to good use in life as well," Gumbel said. "So I like to share that with people."

The three-time Emmy Award-winner is going to share his motivational thoughts and ideas from the world of sports during a speech at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at St. Francis High School in Wheaton. The presentation, titled "Making the Effort," is free and open to the public.

The event is a homecoming of sorts for 63-year-old Gumbel. His family moved to Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood when he was in the fourth grade.

"I love Chicago. I miss Chicago," said Gumbel, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I don't miss the winters."

Thursday night's appearance was organized by St. Francis football coach Greg Purnell, who was a baseball teammate of Gumbel's when they attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

"Greg is the kind of guy who always gives back," Purnell said. "This is an opportunity for the kids and parents of St. Francis to hear Greg talk about the efforts that athletes have made to be successful and the things they overcome in their lives."

Gumbel paved his own path to success after starting his broadcast career in 1973 at Chicago's WMAQ Channel 5. He has since worked at ESPN, the Madison Square Garden Network, NBC Sports and CBS Sports.

Along with Terry Bradshaw, Gumbel hosted "The NFL Today" on CBS from 1990 to 1993. After working for NBC from 1994 to 1998, he became the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports' coverage of the National Football League from 1998 to 2003.

In 2006, Gumbel returned to the broadcast booth to do NFL play-by-play work with Dan Dierdorf. He also hosts CBS' coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Gumbel says he started doing motivational speaking in the early 1990s. He said he doesn't know whether he's good at it, but audiences seem to enjoy his speeches.

"It's kind of like the way I have always thought about my career," Gumbel said. "I don't know if I am really good at it or if people just like me. But I will take it either way."

To get along in life, Gumbel said, it always helps to be really attractive or funny or a good athlete. "Or maybe play the guitar," he adds.

"Fortunately," Gumbel said, "I have always had a really good sense of humor."

When speaking to groups, Gumbel said, he tries to make people smile and laugh with his stories. But the goal is to tell them something that they can "take away with them and, hopefully, think about for a while."

Purnell, who has seen Gumbel speak before, said he believes Thursday night's speech will be especially important for the students who see it.

"My motto in football is, 'improve everyday,'" he said. "I want them to walk out of there feeling good about the opportunities that they have - and to make the effort in everything they do in life to get better."

A maximum of 400 seats are available for the St. Francis High School event, which will conclude with a reception. Admission is free, but audience members must pick up tickets in advance from the main office of the school, 2130 W. Roosevelt Road, Wheaton.

If you go

What: Greg Gumbel presentation

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 29

Where: St. Francis High School, 2130 W. Roosevelt Road, Wheaton

Cost: Free, tickets must be picked up in advance

Info: (630) 668-5800, ext. 1125