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David Bemenderfer: Football is just another accomplishment on list

Joe Lindsley | Thursday, November 13, 2003

David Bemenderfer has trained horses, flown airplanes, traveled to Israel, played on a nationally-ranked high school rugby team and is currently restoring a 1972 Corvette. Add another not-so-minor item to his list – being a member of Notre Dame football, a part of his life that he will have to relinquish fairly soon as the season nears it close.Bemenderfer, a senior walk-on strong safety who has not seen action in a game with the Irish, has no regrets of his past four years with the Notre Dame football program. As a 170-pound nose guard at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Bemenderfer was courted by a number of smaller Division I A, I-AA and II schools, most of which recruited him as a linebacker. Bemenderfer, who was gifted with speed, had a strong athletic resume in high school, particularly because Penn’s rugby team was twice nationally ranked – seventh in 1998 and 11th in 1999. “My second love is rugby,” he said. “It is an equivalent [to football]. It just doesn’t have all the glory football has.”Bemenderfer, who first begin playing football in the seventh grade when all 120 boys in his class tried out for the just-starting team, visited many schools, including Valparaiso, but even the opportunity to see more playing time was not enough for him to commit the next four years of his life to a school.”[Visiting schools] was fun to do and all,” Bemenderfer said. “But I didn’t like some of the coaching staffs, and some of the stadiums were smaller than my high school stadium. It didn’t appeal to me.”So he decided to go for his top academic choice, Notre Dame.”I figured if I can’t go for it all, I am going to go for my academics,” he said. “I tried to get the most out of my summer being free,” Bemenderfer said. “When I got here, I said, why not give it a run, and so I walked on the fall of my freshman year.”At Notre Dame, Bemenderfer has had a full schedule, adding two majors, management information systems and sociology, to the rigors of Irish football.At times, football has made it hard for him to maintain desirable grades.For his 18th birthday, Bemenderfer was giving flying lessons, with the requirement that he keep his GPA above 3.0. After he tore his ACL freshman year, his grades also suffered some injury, particularly because “being on all the painkillers was really tough.”Since then he has brought his GPA much above 3.0, but he has not had the time to add to the nine hours he had previously logged towards his pilot certification.”It is definitely something I have to go back to,” Bemenderfer, the son of two Notre Dame alumni said. “My grandfather was a pilot. My dad was a pilot. It is something I really enjoy doing, getting up there, and just, you’re free. You are not controlled by anything.”Perhaps Bemenderfer appreciates that freedom given his stringent schedule down on land, but he nevertheless registers no complaints about that.”Some days you don’t think you’ll ever be done, and some days you just don’t want it to end,” he said. “Now, getting towards my end, and looking back on it all, every minute was worth it.”Bemenderfer, who undoubtedly has had an array of experiences, has goals of obtaining a technical consulting job and of completely rebuilding his 1972 war-bonnet-yellow Corvette. For now, though, the focus is on finishing school, and more immediately, his last games as an Irish football player.”When [football] is over, it’ll be an end of a part of my life,” he said. “I have no regrets. I tried everything I wanted to try. It’ll be just another chapter in my life that I won’t regret doing.”