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A unified front’

By EMILIE KEFALAS | Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Notre Dame football brings the Saint Mary’s College and Notre Dame student bodies together each year, and Saturday it brought together the student government executives of both institutions.

Prior to Saturday’s football game, Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president Kat Sullivan and Maddy Martin were honored alongside Notre Dame student body president and vice president Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce.

The ceremony consisted of both teams walking the American flag across the field and presenting it to members of the Irish Guard, who hoisted it onto the flagpole during the national anthem. The names and hometowns of the four leaders were also announced, she said.

The four also watched the game from the press box, Sullivan said.

“I was just in shock when we were walking out. I was like, ‘This is a really surreal experience,'” Sullivan said. “I was just so excited, and I felt really blessed to have that experience, and the fact that Notre Dame really considered us a part of the community.  That they allowed Saint Mary’s to be involved was really cool.  It was just exciting that my whole family was there to see me for that.”

Martin said she agreed that it was a great experience, emphasizing how nerve-wracking the experience was for her and how close they were to the players.

“Although it sounds simple, I was so nervous,” Martin said. “We were all really excited.  We got there around 2:45 p.m.  We just got a chance to walk around the field by the fifty-yard line.  I was close enough that I probably could’ve touched one of the football players, probably like Tommy Rees when he was walking by.”

Martin said this is the ninth year in which both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame student executives have been included in performing the ritual, and she said she felt honored to participate.

“I know it was started back in 2004.  However, it is such an honor that Kat and I are able to share such an exciting experience with the Notre Dame student body president and vice president, especially since we are not technically students of Notre Dame.  It was awesome to look like a unified front,” Martin said.   

Before the game commenced, the student government leaders met Irish basketball head coach Mike Brey, University President John Jenkins, Assistant University Vice President Dennis Brown and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Sullivan said. 

Sullivan said Rice was very relatable and the group relished the chance to meet her.

“We shook hands with her, and she asked if we were seniors, what our plans were for next year.  She was very down-to-earth.  She’s a Notre Dame alumna.  She was awesome.  It was a really, very cool experience.  It was really cool that all four of us got to share that as well,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan credits the fellowship between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s student governments for their immediate association following elections last spring.    

“Maddy [Martin] and I have a really good relationship with Alex [Coccia] and Nancy [Joyce].  We started hanging out with them … right after all four of us were elected to plan to collaborate this year on different events,” Sullivan said.

The two administrations and Holy Cross student government will collaborate on a yearlong calendar of community events, Sullivan said. 

“There’s an event called Support-A-Belle-Love-A-Belle here [at Saint Mary’s].  It’s for Mental Health Awareness.  It was started three years ago, and when we described it to Alex and Nancy, they wanted to introduce something like that at Notre Dame.  So now they’re doing Irish State of Mind.  We’re doing our own [collaboration] on three different events.  We happened to get a hold of the Holy Cross student government as well this year.  So it will be all three schools, and that’s in a few weeks,” Sullivan said.       

Martin said, ultimately, she was honored she was able to represent Saint Mary’s College with Sullivan.

“I am so proud of my school and the women that attend it,” she said. “My opportunity to participate in the flag presentation signified the importance of Saint Mary’s as a whole.  I was honored to be able to represent an incredible group of women in front of thousands of people.”