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There are things to cheer for

Kevin Kimberly | Monday, November 8, 2010

And the trend continues.

As our football team severely underperforms, the rest of campus, the rest of the sporting world and the rest of the country have declared that Notre Dame’s athletic performance is anything but a success. “What’s there to cheer for at Notre Dame anymore?” seems to be the common theme throughout all articles and thoughts, for we have once again come to the conclusion that if Notre Dame football is not winning, Notre Dame athletics is not either. I have watched the trend become more prominent, particularly over the last few years, and it is simply an unacceptable one.

I fully understand the love of football around here. I, too, enjoy football the most; it is my favorite sport to watch, talk about and analyze (playing, on the other hand, not so much). But have we forgotten about the numerous other sports here at Notre Dame? Allow me to update you.

The men’s soccer team is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation, has four players ranked in a Top 100 national ranking list, has a senior (Jeb Brovsky) up for a national award that includes fan votes and is one game away from the Big Easy championship, with the NCAAs to follow. The women’s soccer team is ranked No. 8/9 in the country, just clinched the conference regular-season title, also has a senior (Lauren Fowlkes) up for the same national award and is poised to make a run in the NCAAs yet again. In fact, this senior class posts one of the most successful four year runs in terms of wins and post-season success; that is a record we should be cheering and ‘rushing the field’ for. Where’s the focus on these two stellar teams?

The men’s basketball team has once again been under-ranked in the pre-season predictions, and despite streaks of underperformance in the past, have you bought your season tickets to join the Leprechaun Legion this winter and spring? The women’s basketball team is pre-season ranked No. 12 and should once again contend for both conference and national awards, honors and championships. But why would you even think about attending a game of one of the most successful programs over the past decade at Notre Dame?

Ever thought to catch one of the few cross country meets on campus? Both teams just placed high in the Big East Conference championships and have their post-season races in the next few weeks. In fact, the men are ranked No. 30; yes, there are rankings in college cross country. Or ever stopped to think about how the track and field teams are doing? Several athletes have had great and record-breaking finishes, but you wouldn’t really know it.

Several other teams are ranked and consistently compete for championships. Both golf teams are ranked high and have been on the rise the past few years. Our fencing teams are consistently in contention for regional, national and individual championships. It is almost a lock for Notre Dame fencing to be in the national news and talk, but is it part of the campus news and talk? The hockey team just defeated the defending champions and could make a run this season with undying support at the Joyce Center. Will you give up a few hours of your Friday or Saturday night to have a surprisingly good time at a hockey game this year? Did you know our rowing team has captured seven straight conference championships? The softball team opens up its season in February after clinching the Big East championship and winning a couple of NCAA Tournament games, but I am sure the stadium is too far away on campus to consider attending a game. Our lacrosse teams are alive and well with the men’s team almost bringing home the NCAA Championship last year.

Continuing on, the baseball team will soon open up a new season under a new coach, charged with raising the status of the program. Both tennis teams fight hard to bring home wins at a match, quite a few of which are held on campus. Our swimming and diving teams just kicked off their seasons and are consistently in the mix for conference championships; a couple of meets are here but few students attend. The volleyball team dominated the Big East last year and has been competing well this year also.

Where are the “student sections” at these sporting events? Where is the attention on these sports and athletes? Putting aside your previously held stereotypes about members of some teams, a few of which may be true, these other student athletes deserve support too. They work, train and practice just as hard, and they contribute to the high academic standards and success the University brags about as well.

We can all read results in a paper, but we are probably just as capable of going to support these teams. Most other events on campus are free and are actually a fun time. The difference the student section makes at a football game very much carries over to an intensely close soccer game or nail-biting basketball matchup. Yes, we are Notre Dame students and have thousands of things to do and cannot always attend every event. I understand. Still, what’s wrong with taking a break from partying every now and then to go catch a game on a Friday? I’m sure you could still make that amazing dorm party you have been looking forward to all week.

I know, I know. But football is the most important, right? Possibly. There is no denying that football, nine out of 10 times, makes a school the most money and gives a school’s name the most attention. But it does not make or break our entire athletic program. Notre Dame football is not synonymous with Notre Dame athletics. Every sport played on this campus and every athlete playing them have much to do with the success of our athletic program.

As I have always said, just because our football team is not in the Top 25 does not mean our athletic program overall is not. Though not a Notre Dame student-athlete myself, I can say with confidence that they probably would not mind a little support and even more, some attention.


Kevin Kimberly is a senior majoring in psychology and political science. He is eligible to run for president in 2024 and welcomes campaign slogans and ideas at kkimberl@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.