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John Belcher: Wyoming walk-on excels most with track team

Matthew DeFranks | Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do you get when you combine a one pound burger, some jalepeño sauce and a Notre Dame lineman? That would be the Man Challenge, presented by senior walk-on long snapper and defensive lineman John Belcher.

“It’s pretty fun but one of my roommates, he’s a little guy at about 160 pounds, he can eat,” Belcher said. “But we keep it a tight race.”

The 5-11, 235 pound native of Cheyenne, Wyo., makes more than just monstrous burgers in his spare time.

“I’m a huge fan of grilling stuff. I love making chicken, steak, pork, fish,” Belcher said. “I love to eat. So anything that sounds good, I’ll try to make it sometime.”

A new addition to the team this year, Belcher’s talents have been simmering on the track and field team, where he competes in both the shot put and hammer throw. The Irish men’s track team has won four of the past six Big East titles in both indoor and outdoor track.

“For track, [my goal is] to win two more Big East championships,” Belcher said. “I know our throwing squad is a good one. This year should be fun. I’m excited.”

Belcher, an All-Big East selection as a thrower, has the unique situation of balancing track and football.

“Whenever football ends, I’ll be able to go back to track. Right now, my commitment is to football and when it’s over, I’ll be back to track.”

In May’s Big East championships, Belcher placed third and fourthin the shot put and hammer throw events, respectively. Belcher wants the rust to come off easily after not throwing for a while.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back in the groove pretty quickly,” he said.

As a rare varsity athlete to walk onto the football team, Belcher had always wanted to play for the Irish.

“This was a great opportunity. I’m happy I did it, I’m happy I made it on the team,” Belcher said. “In my senior year of high school, I thought my football career was over. It’s nice to be able to play again.”

Belcher’s highlight of the year came in the Irish’s first game when he got to run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium.

“Running out of the tunnel is a really cool experience,” Belcher said. “It’s the first time I’ve run out to see 80,000 people from the field.”

Notre Dame’s great academics, athletics and overall atmosphere drew Belcher to Notre Dame out of high school, as did its with its proximity — or lack thereof — to his home in Wyoming. But those factors did not have the greatest influence on him during his three-plus years.

“I could name off coaches. I could name off friends. I could name off teachers. But it’s really been the Notre Dame community that has had a huge impact on me,” Belcher said.

As a pre-med student who has opted to not attend medical school, Belcher would like to work in medical device sales for a company like Stryker or Johnson & Johnson. An ideal situation would be in the operating room with surgeons instructing them on how to use the instruments, he said.

“I was very fortunate to have this opportunity and lucky to be on this team,” Belcher said. “I can’t believe I’m already senior. I’ve just really enjoyed my time here.”