Coach Kelly and the Irish football team arrive at the Gug on Saturday afternoons for some last minute meetings. Following these meetings, the team walks from the Gug to the Hesburgh Library, proceeds south toward the Stadium, and enters the house that Rockne built through the Tunnel gates. Click here for to see the route of the player walk.
Notre Dame fans take their football seriously and the University’s students are no exception. You can’t miss the section of the stadium, where students remain standing during the game, generate extra decibels of noise, celebrate touchdowns with airborne pushups, and demonstrate a level of support that is indeed part of the game. Remember, these young men and women are not just fans; they are expressing solidarity with each other, with their classmates on the field, and with the school, its past and its future. In the stadiums of many universities, only a relatively small percentage of the student body is present. Not true here. These undergraduates, about a quarter of whom are legacy students, are sharing their sense of tradition and pride with everyone who’ll notice, especially the huge throngs of alumni who also attend the games.
Rain or shine, win or lose, the student body will still be there at the end of every Notre Dame home game to honor their classmates on the field. Staying through the Alma Mater, no matter the result of the game, is considered a badge of honor. Of course…all bets are off if the student body ends up on the field, wildly celebrating.
What are some of the traditions in the stands? Look for the student body to honor Coach Kelly as the band plays the 1812 Overture. The students chop the air with their arms in time with the menacing beat of the Darth Vader theme. They wave their keys to signal a “key play.” You’ll hear the “We are ND” cheer. Watch the student section do push ups lifting one another in the air after an Irish score. The number of push ups equal the total points scored by Notre Dame. You’ll see the Irish Guard do their Victory Clog after the Fighting Irish win. When the Irish win, you will see the team approach the student section to sing the Alma Mater together.
Cheerleaders and Leprechaun
Cheerleaders start their game day weekend with a 4:00 p.m. appearance at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore on Friday. Then it’s off to the pep rally, where they burst onto the scene with the band and the pom squad to the sound of the Notre Dame Victory March. On Game Day, four hours before kickoff, the group of six couples assembles in full uniform to go anywhere the echoes could use some waking up. Accompanied by the leprechaun, who is one of them, they visit Legends restaurant and other venues. Later, after the band’s step-off from the Main Building, they lead the parade of well-wishers across campus, sounding the alert: “Here come the Irish!”
The Irish Guard is a group of 10 tall, kilt-wearing soldiers of song who clear the way for the band to march and who enhance the celebratory music with an occasional Victory Clog. Look for them accompanying the band to its concert at Bond Hall, then getting the parade to the stadium under way. They play an important part in the pre-game ceremonies on the field to honor individuals or groups and then to raise the American flag while 80,000 people sing the “Star- Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” Irish Guard members must be at least 6’2’’ tall.
The area in and around Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center serves as a living tribute to the ongoing vibrancy of student athletics at the University, with many reminders to “Play Like a Champion Today.” Besides the many statues and banners that evoke a proud past and present in the stadium’s corridors, don’t forget to visit the expansive collection of memorabilia, spanning many sports and many seasons, found in Heritage Hall located on the second floor of the Joyce Center.