Growing up as a young athlete, Ryan Donahue never forgot his mother's advice whenever he was knocked to the cold, hard ground.
And it happened regularly while playing competitive football and soccer.
Then came her words: "Don't get mad, get even."
The Iowa junior is again in the running for the Ray Guy Award given each season to the nation's top college punter. Pro scouts are impressed by his leg strength, hang time and poise.
In the No. 13 Hawkeyes' five games -- all wins -- Donahue has punted 23 times for a 41.5 average with six fair catches and 13 kicks inside the opponents' 20.
Against Arizona on Sept. 19, he averaged 51 yards for five punts and had one returned for 4 yards.
All of this from a player with Region ties.
People are also reading…
Donahue's mother is 1980 Andrean grad Claire Pavlik, who runs the Chicago Juniors Volleyball Club in Oak Lawn and has athletes from Munster, Crown Point and Andrean.
"That's funny he remembered: 'Don't get mad, get even,' but yeah, whatever the situation might be," Pavlik-Donahue said. "I was a total hothead. I coach club volleyball, so I tell a lot of my athletes you've got to keep your emotions in check in order to perform."
Donahue wasn't aware his mom was named one of Andrean's 50 greatest athletes in a recent edition of The Times to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary, an individual honor she downplayed.
"She's never been one to toot her own horn. She's very humble that way," Ryan said.
"To me, what's more important is that Andrean's out there for 50 years and producing some great athletes and great people," added Pavlik-Donahue, who has two other sons. "I didn't really feel (the top 50) was that important and they needed to know about that aspect.
"I let them be their own individuals. They know who brought them into this world, and they're thankful to have the parents they do have."
Big Ten's big foot
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Donahue had 50 punts for a 41.6 average that ranked him 35th nationally as a sophomore. Surprisingly, he wasn't always the most confident kid.
"He believes in himself now but when he was younger, he didn't," Pavlik-Donahue said. "I told him there's going to be a lot of disbelievers out there. Believe in yourself and he's taken that role very strongly. I think it's his work ethic at practice.
"Unfortunately, football is a job. The majority of the year, he's at Iowa. If they go to a bowl game, he's off about two weeks at Christmas. He's off about three weeks in May and then everything else is football."
Reggie Roby's many school records included a 49.8 average in 1981 that could be erased before Donahue graduates. Rival coaches have called him "The Rainmaker" because of his terrific hang time.
The Hawkeyes were the first to offer Ryan, who attended St. Rita and liked the "family atmosphere" on the Iowa City campus and the football program's emphasis on special teams play. The day before, Donahue had personally kicked at Notre Dame for coach Charlie Weis but said he got a cool reception.
A competitive, athletic family
Donahue credits his parents and St. Rita coach J.J. Standring -- who punted at Northwestern -- for much of his football success.
"My mom was a three-sport athlete at Andrean and my dad (Tim) coached NAIA soccer for 10 years and also played. They're both very competitive, very athletic, and I know I get every bit of that from each of them," said Donahue, whose youngest brother Christopher kicks for St. Rita.
Ryan's mother also attends most of his away games.
"In that hostile environment when all those fans are going crazy, rooting against you, it's good to know you've got at least one fan out there who's right behind you," Ryan said.
Another Region connection at Iowa is Gary native and receivers coach Erik Campbell.
"He's very informative and knows exactly what he's talking about," Donahue said. "He's a great guy to learn from; definitely an asset for the Iowa football program."
But when all is said and done, it's Mom who deserves the bouquet.
"Don't get mad, get even, even if someone cheapshots you," Donahue said. "I can't get mad and just try to kick the crap out of the ball. I have to think of everything that I've been taught.
"And also get 'even' with myself."
Iowa junior punter
In team's five games, he has 23 punts for a 41.5-yard average.
Also has 13 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
His longest punt this season is a 62-yarder.
Last year, had 50 punts for a 41.6-yard average.
1980 Andrean grad starred in basketball, track and volleyball.
Runs the Chicago Juniors Volleyball Club in Oak Lawn.