The Tranquill family, Part II: Each member forging their own path to success in life

Tranquills excelling in classrooms as much as athletic fields

Tony and Shannon Tranquill pose outside of their Huntertown home recently. (By Tom Davis of The News-Sentinel)
Notre Dame senior linebacker Drue Tranquill meets with the media following a training camp practice this August at Culver Academy. (By Tom Davis of The News-Sentinel)
Western Michigan redshirt sophomore Justin Tranquill receives encouragement from a Bronco assistant coach during a game against Ball State in Muncie last season. (By Tom Davis of The News-Sentinel)
Carroll High School junior linebacker Jack Tranquill watches quick film on an iPad with a Charger assistant coach during a game earlier this season against Bishop Dwenger at Zollner Stadium. (By Tom Davis of The News-Sentinel)

This is the second installment in a three-part series on the family of Tony and Shannon Tranquill, a Huntertown couple that has managed to raise five children through a sometimes chaotic, but always successful in the end, existence in their endeavors on the athletic fields, in the classroom and throughout life.

This installment will focus on how this family has gone about achieving success in the classroom.

The traditional method of completing a bachelor’s degree is a four-year venture through late nights at the library and tedious afternoons listening to seminars.

Tony Tranquill certainly did those things, but it took him twice as long to complete the trip.

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“I worked two jobs, full-time, to put myself through college,” Tony explained. “It took me eight years to graduate, but I came out with no debt.”

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Having earned a degree in industrial systems engineering AND not owing a penny after walking off the stage at Auburn University, it is clear to see where Tony’s five children got their intellect and drive from.

Not so fast, my friend.

Tony’s wife, Shannon, didn’t take eight years to graduate from Auburn, yet she did so with honors in earning a nursing degree.

When you take into account that level of diligence, as well as the innate intelligence, now it becomes clear to see why each of the Tranquill children are destined for success wherever life takes them.

“I had to study hard,” Tony continued. “I took lots of notes, and I don’t think that I hardly ever missed a class. That is where I did the bulk of my learning.”

The work paid off for Tony, who is now the president and CEO of Wayne Pipe and Supply in Fort Wayne.

Shannon not only excelled as an undergrad, a few years back, she undertook the challenge of getting a master’s degree in order to work as a nurse practitioner.

“It was my 40th birthday present to myself,” Shannon said.

Fast forward a quarter century, and Notre Dame football fans can get an understanding as to how Fighting Irish team captain Drue Tranquill has been able to successfully compete both on the field and in the classroom.

The senior linebacker not only has been able to lead No. 19-ranked Notre Dame with 4½ tackles for a loss, but if the 2018 NFL Draft was based on class work, Tranquill could possibly be the top overall selection.

A mechanical engineering major and 2016 Academic All-American, Drue has a 3.73 grade-point average and has been named to the University’s Dean’s List three of his six semesters at Notre Dame. He was also named an Academic All-District honoree in 2015.

“There are a few (negative) stories on Drue,” Tony laughed.

“Not many,” Shannon interjected, “he’s darn close to perfect, let me tell you.”

Just as Shannon and Tony took divergent paths to success in academics and life, the Tranquill children are doing so, as well.

Drue is earning all of the accolades for his studiousness, but ask Tony or Shannon how second-oldest child Justin will fare in life, and they aren’t betting against the Western Michigan University finance major and his exuberant personality.

“Justin is extremely intelligent,” Tony said. “But I think that he gets a little bit bored with the classroom.”

Not that “bored.”

Justin was an All-Mid-American Conference Academic selection last year and on the field helped lead the defense of the best team in Bronco history.

“Justin has that ‘X-factor’ perception of reality around him,” Tony said. “He fits into any crowd. He is intuitively very smart.”

Unlike Drue.

Forget the NFL, Drue Tranquill is going to be a very wealthy man by the time he hits middle age. He is going to graduate – with honors – from the University of Notre Dame with an engineering degree, and he’ll be wildly successful wherever that degree and that field take him. But a people-person, he’s not, according to his parents.

Justin, on the other hand, may just become president of the United States.

“Justin is very intuitive about social situations,” Tony said, “academic situations; things come very easy to him. He can walk into a room and pick up the chemistry of the room, just like that.

“He can be a straight A student – if he wants to be.”

“With zero effort,” Shannon added.

And it isn’t just those two.

As smart as Drue is, his younger sister, Sara Kate, 18, had the higher test scores in preparing for her freshman year at IPFW this fall, while the youngest child, 11-year-old Ethan, is following in the personality traits of Drue.

And then there is Jack.

“Jack …,” Shannon paused, “we can’t seem to pinpoint (his personality).”

The Carroll High School junior was always a good student, but a life-altering heart-to-heart with Drue set him on a more determined course not just in athletics and life, but also the classroom.

“He had a really strong talk with Drue about life,” Shannon said proudly, “about how you treat girls, getting your grades, and if you want to play college football, how you better behave.”

Tony hardly recognizes his fourth child since that day.

“He went from a high school teenager,” Tony said, “to being a young man coming into his own with a mission.”

There are many paths to success in life, and they don’t all involve honor rolls. The Tranquill family is Exhibit A of such. However, the trek isn’t nearly as important as the destination reached.

The members of the Tranquill clan are most certainly clearing seven different paths through life, and at times, their journeys will be questioned. But there is no doubt regarding this family possessing the necessary motivation and knowledge required to reach heights that only a select few will ever know.

For more on sports, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.