The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Juan Muldoon named new varsity Leprechaun

Madeline Buckley | Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Football fans will see a new face on the sidelines in the fall when junior Juan Muldoon graces the field as the new varsity Leprechaun.

Muldoon said his experience as junior varsity Leprechaun for the past two years has prepared him for the busy role of being the University mascot.

“I have learned to communicate with a crowd and think on my feet, which are skills absolutely necessary to work a football crowd,” Muldoon said.

Muldoon’s desire to represent Notre Dame as the Leprechaun began during his Freshman Orientation.

“During Frosh-O I had a beard and I was about five feet [tall], so some people in my section joked that I should be the Leprechaun,” he said. “In the spring as tryouts drew nearer, a cheerleader in my section encouraged me to give it a shot. It was a long shot because they generally choose older students, but I got the J.V. position.

“That’s where the dream all started.”

The grueling process of tryouts began in early April to replace graduating varsity Leprechaun Matt Phipps. The position of Notre Dame Leprechaun is about more than just sports, Muldoon said. The judges have to evaluate the candidates as public relations figures for the University, as the Leprechaun frequently speaks with fans, the media and participates in rallies and community service. During the tryouts, the Leprechaun candidates have to partake in mock media interviews and role-play different scenarios that they may encounter as Leprechaun, Muldoon said.

And, of course, the prospective Leprechauns had to demonstrate their ability to work a crowd.

“You have to conduct a Pep Rally on your own in front of a live crowd,” Muldoon said. The judges watched to see how excited the crowd became while the Leprechaun entertained, he said.

“It was nerve wracking, but I put my best face forward,” Muldoon said.

As an additional part of the tryout process, the Leprechauns took clinics with the cheerleaders in order to learn stunts, he said.

The panels of judges conducting the tryouts was composed of representatives from different offices on campus, such as Student Activities, the Alumni Association, Marketing and Public Relations, Muldoon said. The cheerleading coaches also took part in the decision process, he said.

At the end of the process, he said, each Leprechaun candidate faced the panel in a personal interview.

“They are looking for someone with the right attitude, heart and ethics,” Muldoon said. “You have to be enthusiastic, positive, and have a great love for the University.”

Although Muldoon has embodied these qualities for the past two years as the junior varsity Leprechaun, he will face new challenges and responsibilities as the Varsity Leprechaun. The junior varsity Leprechaun is generally in charge of working the men’s soccer games and women’s volleyball and basketball games, and the varsity Leprechaun works football and men’s basketball.

“I have to start thinking about entertaining a bigger audience at the games and Pep Rallies, and traveling with the football and basketball teams, Muldoon said. “I’m used to having 30-40 fans, and during the Blue and Gold game I had 32,000 fans. I have the responsibility of communicating with a broader audience.”

While moving to a larger arena is exciting, Muldoon had some nostalgia for his old position.

“I’m actually going to miss J.V. because I’m used to having personal relationships with the parents and players,” he said. “However, I’m hoping to establish some new relationships as well. I look forward to working with the new J.V. Leprechaun Dan Collins. We can both learn from each other.”

Muldoon will face his position as Varsity Leprechaun next year with “all the enthusiasm in the world.”

“I have some big shoes to fill,” he said. “I had the pleasure of being the understudy of Matt Phipps, and I have learned a lot. I can build on that experience and bring my own personality to the table. I will be on the field next year with a smile, jump and a jig.”