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Campus rests without football

Nicole Zook | Friday, October 29, 2004

With the majority of weekends in the semester thus far filled with the hustle and hassle that characterize Notre Dame home football games, students and campus employees are relishing the break from the action.

“When I’m wearing the ‘Cappy the Fan’ hat, I’m disappointed. When I’m wearing the ‘Cappy the Usher’ hat, it’s a relief,” Cappy Gagnon, manager of stadium personnel, said of his feelings about the break.

Gagnon said that preparing for home games, which have sold every seat for 178 consecutive games, is a major process that requires plenty of planning. This includes sign-in sheets for the workers, payroll each week and his own special procedures contingent on the game.

Training the world’s largest usher program, with 857 members – the majority of whom are volunteers – from 15 different states presents a unique challenge for Gagnon and the stadium crew each week. Gagnon said the relief from games this weekend will aid in that process.

“These are people you see only six days a year. You have to put together training programs each week that go very quickly and very effectively in a short amount of time,” he said.

Hammes Bookstore General Book Manager Kathy McGowan also emphasized the short length of time available to prepare for back-to-back games.

“Our fans start coming on Wednesdays, so you’ve got to be up and ready to perform,” McGowan said. “We have six-day work weeks, Monday through Saturday. When you have three weeks consecutive like we just did and you have six-day work weeks, you’re mostly just getting things reorganized, but you’ve already got to be settled in [for the next week].”

The influx of fans on fall football days seems to overwhelm all campus businesses, said South Dining Hall employee Carrie Miller. Miller said that game weekends are highly stressful to workers.

“Last weekend, we had 27,000 people that went through those doors,” she said. “The other day, they were lined up out to the sidewalk. I hate working football weekends.”

Miller said that South Dining Hall averages about 2,000 people a night. She also said that while the game weekends are hard on employees, she truly appreciates being able to meet students’ families as they come in to eat after the game.

Students themselves seem to have mixed reactions about the first break from football thus far this season.

“I don’t know what I’m going do on Saturday,” freshman Vince Cano said. “Anything from homework to being lazy to doing nothing.”

While Cano may joke about the lack of activity on campus on non-game weekends, he says he is serious about Notre Dame football and wants to see the team redeem itself from last Saturday’s Boston College game.

“I’ve been going to the games for years and years, since before I came here [as a student],” he said. “Everyone felt bad about this last weekend. It wasn’t that we lost, it was how it ended.”

Saint Mary’s freshman Allie Greene attends the games as well, but she said was relieved that the schedule is taking a break.

“I’m going to Chicago this weekend because there’s no game,” she said.

She added that she especially appreciated the weekend off from attempting to balance studies and sports after the hectic schedule of three home games – Washington, Purdue and Stanford – in a row.

“I can’t believe it, there are five home games in a row next year,” she said. “So much for that homework.”

Senior Mark Ellestad, who will not have to deal with that problem next year, does not find balancing work and play difficult.

“Game weekends aren’t stressful, they’re, like, so fetch,” he said. “They keep me so young.”

Gagnon, who spends his football weekends surrounded by students, has taken a clue from them and will be participating in a beloved student activity in the absence of a game.

“Normally I’m up at four o’ clock to be at the stadium by five,” he said. “This week I’m going to try to sleep in until noon.”