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Will Salvi cherishes time on field with older brother

Peter Steiner | Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roughly one year ago, senior Will Salvi caught the winning touchdown pass in a come-from-behind win in Notre Dame Stadium.

This year, Salvi will be on the field Saturday with a gold helmet on his head, instead of playing for the interhall football championship Sunday, like he did last year.

As part of the 2011 Dillon interhall football championship team, last year’s game in Notre Dame Stadium represents more than taking home the interhall crown. It also marks the moment when Salvi decided he would try to walk on to the Notre Dame football team.

“Actually, before the championship game in interhall, I was talking to my brother and I decided that I think I could walk on and I want to join the team,” Salvi said. “I just wanted to be with him and part of the team. It was a good decision on my part to try out.”

After a successful tryout, Salvi made the football team during his junior year. Despite his and his team’s achievements in interhall football, playing for Notre Dame just doesn’t compare to the dorm team, he said.

“Interhall was a lot of fun, but this is just so much more special and so much more intense and competitive, which just makes it great,” Salvi said.

When he made the team, Salvi joined his brother Chris Salvi – a senior safety who transferred from Butler and made the Notre Dame football team in 2009. Although they have only had one year together on the team, Salvi – also a transfer from Alabama – identified playing with his brother as the most meaningful aspect of his Notre Dame football experience.

“I’ve always loved Notre Dame,” Salvi said. “And the fact that Chris made the team as soon as he transferred here … was surreal as is. Then when I decided to try out and when I got on the team, it was just a dream come true, being with him. It’s the most fun I’ve had and some of the best experiences have come from this year.”

Outside of playing with his brother, the first two football games this year highlight the most meaningful times Salvi has had while on the team.

“The Ireland trip as a whole, especially when I knew that the game time was close, was pretty sweet,” he said. “Then running out onto the field in Purdue was pretty awesome as well. Obviously, it was my first home game and you could feel the energy of the crowd and being with my brother was just so special. Being able to run out of the tunnel with him on something we’ve held to hearts so dearly is just pretty great.”

This moment was particularly special because of the large role Notre Dame has played in his life, Salvi said.

“Just always being Notre Dame fans was a big deal for us because we just grew up with it,” Salvi said. “My dad went here and showed us how awesome Notre Dame football was and how special the University is. Notre Dame football has always been an important part of our lives.”

But playing for Notre Dame has been significant for more reasons than playing for his boyhood-favorite team with his brother. This year has also taught him many valuable lessons and life-skills he will take into the future, Salvi said.

“I’ve learned a lot from football that I didn’t necessarily learn from the classroom.” Salvi said. “Competing with the best athletes in the world, obviously I have a disadvantage because I was out of football for a little bit and athletically, I’m probably not as supreme as Tyler Eifert or Manti Teo. I’ve tried to hold my own and obviously working hard is a huge part of this.”

As a political science major, Salvi also has to balance schoolwork and playing football. He said the biggest change has been the decrease in free time outside the classroom.

“As a student, you have so much time and I didn’t realize that until I joined the team,” Salvi said. “There’s definitely a limited amount of time to do work, but you just have to manage it well. It’s not too bad.”

While Salvi is undecided on what he would like to do after this year is complete, one thing is certain. The decision to walk on the Notre Dame football team one year ago has paid off with an amazing experience.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu