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Seniors start tailgate tradition

MJ JOHNSTON | Thursday, November 21, 2013

For seniors at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s there is a strong desire to create a legacy before the end of their last football game, and seniors in O’Neill Hall have found a way to leave their mark.

Led by senior Calvin Hemington, a group of 23 seniors purchased a renovated school bus in Michigan to welcome tailgaters at all the home games and at the away games against Purdue and University of Michigan this season.

“We just wanted to do something legendary for our senior year,” senior Danny Winnike said. “Something crazy.”

Born from a sophomore year joke, senior Ben O’Neill said the owners took the bus to a mechanic, purchased insurance and registered themselves as a corporation that “specializes in catering light beer.”

Senior Patrick Callahan said the O’Neill bus throws tailgates to bring together both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students on football Saturdays.  

“It’s something that we all wished we would’ve thought of and something that we all benefit from,” said Callahan said. “One of my favorite tailgates was at the Michigan game. Basically the entire senior class was together at the bus.”

Senior Mike Lucente said the University of Michigan tailgate was the largest and most memorable out of the entire season. He said over 500 people attended the tailgate at Ann Arbor.

“We just kept hearing everyone talking about the bus, and meeting at the bus, so we went,” Anna Sullivan, who is a junior at Saint Mary’s, said. “It seemed like everyone was there. It wasn’t just a Notre Dame thing, or an O’Neill thing, or a senior thing, it was an Irish thing.”

As the season draws to a close, the bus owners said they are looking for future O’Neill men to continue the tradition. O’Neill said juniors of O’Neill Hall have already approached the current bus owners to purchase the bus for next year, garner alumni attention to endow the bus in the years to come.  

Contact MJ Johnston at mjohns01@saintmarys.edu