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O’Neill holds showcase for athletic team captains

Kate Gales | Thursday, January 22, 2004

Bringing together talented athletes and interested students, O’Neill Family Hall invited the captains of Notre Dame athletic teams to speak with students and hall residents for the first annual “Night of Captains.”Drawing inspiration from a TV show where former leaders in fields like politics and business as well as sports were interviewed, hall presidents Michael Vater and Ruben Pena organized an event where students could learn more about the life of a student-athlete.”We wanted to showcase the captains and [illustrate] that they don’t just play sports,” said Vater, “but do stuff outside, in the community.”With the help of Academic Cabinet Head Chris Tarnacki, the hall staff e-mailed invitations to the teams, asking them to send captains or representatives for the evening’s event.Kim Carpenter of the women’s soccer team, Devon Prescod and Greg Martin of the men’s soccer team, Aaron Gill and Bob Globke of the hockey team, Bob Morton of the football team, Kristin Kinder of the volleyball team and Liz Doyle of the cheerleading squad participated in the event, which Vater hopes will become an annual tradition. The athletes answered questions about becoming involved in their sports, choosing to attend Notre Dame, their activities outside of athletics and their plans for the future. They also discussed applying the lessons learned on the field to situations in everyday life.”You get a chance to go to Notre Dame, it’s an opportunity you can’t pass up,” Martin said. “Getting to put on an Irish jersey is just another aspect of it.””I’ve been a Notre Dame fan in general and in football since I was about four years old,” Morton said. “I remember watching games with Pop and my grandfather, the gold hats and the tradition – it’s not just the athletics and the academics but the tradition that goes along with it.” “Who knows about hockey in Indiana?” Gill asked rhetorically. “Turns out, not too many people.””We saw it as the opportunity to build a program,” his teammate Globke said. Globke was selected in the second round of the draft, and the team is ranked in the nation’s top 15.The captains have proven themselves to be leaders outside of athletics as well. “Our captains are responsible for the creative aspect of cheerleading – our practices are run by the creative minds behind the team,” Doyle said. The cheerleaders also schedule appearances in Catholic grade schools, children’s hospitals and day-care centers to coincide with road trips.Others, such as Martin, said that being a recognizable face in the South Bend community has led to opportunities to help a variety of people. For seniors like Martin, the Notre Dame experience is almost over and some senior captains are unsure of what they will do after graduation.”It’s a tough decision,” Martin said when asked about future plans. Martin and Prescod are considering traveling to Africa to play soccer and work as AIDS/HIV educators. They hope to “find a way to stay active and stay involved in the community,” said Martin.Carpenter plans to attend medical school – her lifelong goal – after graduation.”I’ll be taking a lot from my experience here,” she said. “You can’t let individual desires get in the way when you’ve got a team to look out for – the same is true in medicine.”Kinder said that the most important goal of a captain is “to get the most out of every individual on a team.” She said she is considering playing professional beach volleyball and is looking into making an Olympic appearance, but hopes to go into the field of public health.Each athlete had a memory of beginning what would be a lifelong passion – why he or she began playing the sport that became a way of life.”I started playing football during freshman year [of high school] because I was too big to play soccer,” said Morton. “I stuck with it, and now it’s a big part of my life.””My old man put me on skates,” said Globke, who initially disliked skating and the cold weather. “But I kind of started to like it and with four little brothers, I had fun shooting pucks at them.”Kinder had the unique experience of co-captaining the volleyball team with her twin sister. “Debbie [Brown], our coach, is a big name in [our home state of] California,” Kinder said. “She played there, her jerseys are retired … having the opportunity to play with her and my sister was amazing.”Prescod, Martin and Carpenter were able to share similar stories about learning to play soccer, with Prescod and Carpenter following – and excelling – in the footsteps of older siblings.