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Leprechaun Legion expands to all athletic clubs

Caroline Schuitema | Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Notre Dame’s student body has always been a spirited group, but this year, the Leprechaun Legion is making changes that they hope will improve the overall atmosphere of all sporting events.

“Our goal is to try to find different ways to get students to come to games,” Matthew Cunningham, president of Leprechaun Legion, said.  “We want to keep them entertained and engaged and loud and to create kind of a home field advantage.”

To encourage maximum participation from the student body, the Legion has recently decided to expand itself so that every sport will have its own loud, boisterous student section.

“The Legion last year focused on basketball,” vice president, Kristen Stoutenburgh, said. “It’s historically been men’s basketball so we expanded to encompass not just the student section at basketball games but also the student section at all sporting events.

“Every student on campus is part of the Leprechaun Legion.”

But for those who want to be more involved in the Legion than simply attending various athletic contests, new changes in the organization’s leadership structure will provide a way.

The Leprechaun Legion board is comprised of an executive council, board leaders, marketing members, and the board of student representatives. Essentially, the board will work to find areas in which the student section can improve, Cunningham said.

“We have weekly meetings and we talk Notre Dame athletics about how to make them the best that they can possibly be,” Stoutenburgh said. “There are also individual sports committees, which take charge of the student section for their particular sport.  Any student can join a sports committee.”

“I think we have a great student section,” Cunningham said.  “I think part of the reason people come to Notre Dame is the great athletic programs.  But we can do better.”

He noted that last year’s decision to add music to the football games as an example.

“It added a great dimension to the stadium atmosphere,” Cunningham said.

Other things like the Leprechaun Legion shirts, which were distributed at several sporting events early in the year, serve to bring the student body together as a united force, Stoutenburgh said.

“They’re not just there to watch.  They’re there to be a fan and support their team,” she said.

The bigger, more excited student sections will unite fans, but they will also lend support to the athletes.

“We want to be the best, not only for our own enjoyment but also to support the players and the coaches,” Stoutenburgh said.  “Athletes know the Legion stands behind them.”

The energy the student section generates can play a crucial role in Notre Dame games.

“Coaches will say ‘Yeah, the crowd was great today, it really gave us a boost when we needed it,'” Cunningham said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here ­­- give the students and coaches that extra energy.”

In the end, the Leprechaun Legion serves two purposes.  It is a voice for the student body within the athletic department and it brings fans and athletes together.

“There’s not that big separation between us,” Stoutenburgh said.  “We’re all one team.”

For more information on the Leprechaun Legion, email legion@nd.edu with your name and sport of interest.