When sitting down with Kaitlin, Ryan and Clare Robinson, three siblings all vying for an interhall championship, the must-win nature they share is evident from the very first question.
When asked how serious they were as kids playing neighborhood games, all three Robinsons echoed two words simultaneously, as if rehearsed: “very competitive.”
That drive has carried on to their time at Notre Dame, as all three will be playing in the interhall championships in Notre Dame Stadium this Sunday. Kaitlin and Clare will be battling for No. 1 Howard against No. 2 Pasquerilla West and Ryan will be fighting for 5-1 No. 2 Sorin against No. 1 Dillon. They have all played key roles and numerous positions, filling any spot necessary in the pursuit of victories.
Clare, a freshman, has played safety, and even moved to the offensive line last game. Kaitlin, a senior, plays several positions, but primarily lines up at wide receiver and linebacker. Ryan, a sophomore, plays wide receiver, tight end, defensive end and linebacker.
“We pretty much go wherever the team needs us,” Kaitlin said.
Each sibling made key plays in the semifinals. Against Pangborn, Kaitlin was the spy on the Phoxes’ playmaker, Gabby Tate, limiting her impact, and Clare had an important sack on a fourth-and-goal, helping lead a Duck (6-0) romp. Ryan had a catch for Sorin’s only touchdown in the Otters’ 7-6 win over Alumni.
Because of those efforts, they’re all playing in the Stadium Sunday.
The Robinsons’ passion for athletics did not begin at Notre Dame. Rather, it started in a backyard.
“We’re really close in age, so we had a lot of overlapped friend groups playing backyard sports,” Ryan said. “Touch football got pretty intense.”
One sport, in particular, was heated, especially as they grew in age.
“We played driveway basketball until we just got too old and too physical for that,” Kaitlin said. “Then it got banned.”
The memories of the intensity of those games stay with the Robinsons, though, in the form of physical reminders.
“Ryan has scars and I have chipped teeth,” Kaitlin said.
But don’t ask them any specific tales — what happens in the backyard stays in the backyard.
“[There are no stories] that we can say,” Ryan said. “That’s deep, dark family secrets.”
The Robinsons are a true Notre Dame family. The three currently enrolled have a younger sister, Molly, a high school student who hopes to attend Notre Dame. They also have a little brother, Jack, a second grader who is a big Irish fan. The family love for Notre Dame was spurred in large part by their father, who attended the University.
“We grew up with Notre Dame,” Kaitlin said. “Some people got sung lullabies, and we got sung the Notre Dame fight song.”
Family members will be watching the games in Notre Dame Stadium this weekend.
“We’ve got a big family in Chicago and a lot of them are coming for the games,” Kaitlin said.
As for the matchups themselves, Ryan is respectful of Dillon, but confident.
“They have a pretty good team, but we do, too,” he said. “It should be a good game.”
The women’s side is not as friendly, after a bitter championship game last year between Howard and Pasquerilla West, which Howard won.
“There’s animosity,” Clare said. “It’ll be pretty physical.”
Kaitlin added: “There are some personal stories between Howard and PW. They are a good team, but we’re just excited to go back to the Stadium and win again.”
Ultimately, Sunday’s games will be a contest not just against the opponent, but against each other.
“I think it’s still a competition,” Clare said. “If he wins and we don’t, then we’re number two.”
In the end, Kaitlin and Clare wish no ill will towards their brother.
“We still want Sorin to win,” Kaitlin said.
Ryan doesn’t share those feelings.
“I don’t really care [how they do] as long as we win,” he said.