As a third generation legacy child, I was a Notre Dame fan from day one. My Grandpa and his four kids, including my mom, are all proud to call themselves alumni of Notre Dame. This University is one of the most prestigious in the world: a Catholic school that excels in every area. However, these days there are a number of prestigious universities out there. But what sets this school apart can’t be measured in GPAs or trophies: it’s the tradition. Tradition is why alums give so much back to the school, why the football stadium is sold out every home game (no matter how bad the season), why we join arms at the end of every game and chant the Alma Mater, and why my family and I love this University so much. It is a very powerful thing that permeates almost every inch of this beautiful campus and it’s why my kids and grandkids will love this school years from now. That said, a very prominent tradition is about to be cast aside: football walk-ons.
Walk-ons have been a tradition of Notre Dame football since the time of that famous five foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, defensive player with barely a speck of talent. This tradition has continued year after year, most notably with special teams walk-on Mike Anello. A few friends of mine were planning on trying out for next year’s team this spring and called the football office to find out when tryouts were. What they eventually found out was that the new head coach Brian Kelly and his staff were not going to have walk-on tryouts this year. Furthermore, they found that some of the current walk-ons were being cut. If this is not the case, I ask that the staff release some information to clarify and I will stand corrected. I understand that we are in a year of transition, and that there are an infinite number of things that keep coach Kelly and his staff more than busy, and that they are working incredibly hard.
I’m not going to lie, during coach Kelly’s press conference when he announced he would be head coach here, I was really excited. He talked of how he would listen to the football games with the awe and wonder that so many fans do, how coaching here was his dream job, and how he left a team that he just took to the Sugar Bowl to coach our team with a 12 and 12 regular season record in the past two years. I thought to myself, “This guy was meant for this job. This guy gets what Notre Dame is about.” However, it’s like he said in that same speech, “There’s a football coach, and then there’s a football coach at Notre Dame. Because nobody … nobody does it like Notre Dame.” So to whom it may concern, please don’t cut the walk-ons. Please hold tryouts in the spring. Please find the time like every coach before you has. I know it must be difficult for you and I might sound like an ignorant student. Nonetheless, if my pleas are unheard, I will still love this school, this team, and everything associated, because nobody does it like Notre Dame.