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Tryouts begin for new irish mascot

Peter Leahy | Friday, April 15, 2005

Next fall will be the dawn of the Charlie Weis era for Notre Dame football and the beginning of the post-Chris Thomas era for Notre Dame men’s basketball. There will also be another important change in the world of Irish sports – a new leprechaun.

Tryouts for the prestigious and highly-scrutinized position will take place today at 6 p.m. in the Pit of the Joyce Center. Students are welcome to enter through Gate 2 and watch the rigorous proceedings to see who their new mascot will be.

Interviews have been conducted for the past few weeks in order to narrow the list of candidates. Of the original 14 who strove for the magical pot of gold that is the position of leprechaun at Notre Dame, only six remain going into today’s tryouts.

When all is said and done, just two official leprechauns will remain, as has been the custom.

The selection process will contain physical as well as mental tests, cheerleading coach Jo Minton said. A panel of nine people made up of members from Student Activities, Academic Services, the Alumni Office, the Athletic Department Compliance Department, the President’s Office, the Men’s Basketball Office, Student Development, a “super-fan” from campus and a past leprechaun – as well as the cheerleading coaching staff – will observe the tryouts.

Each candidate individually performs an opening to a pep rally, reacts to one game situation, simulates one community visit situation and then is drilled with questions by a local media personality. For the finale of the physical tests, the six candidates will come to the floor to do push-ups and the Irish Jig.

After these tests, the contestants will be subjected to individual interviews by the panel in a conference room above Gate 3.

Minton said the results of the process will be posted Friday night and that there is still hope for those that do not make leprechaun – tryouts for cheerleaders are Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.

Once selections are made, the leprechaun is treated much like any student athlete.

“The leprechaun and cheerleaders are regarded as athletes and are subject to the same, if not higher, standards of conduct and academics as varsity athletes,” Minton said.

However, along with this responsibility come the perks Notre Dame athletes enjoy, including great seats at sporting events and the Adidas practice clothes and shoes the cheerleaders receive. After one full year, the leprechaun receives a custom-made suit and after two, he is eligible to receive a monogram. Of course, along with the material gains comes the prestige, exposure and community and public interaction that comes with the job, Minton added.

The leprechaun is and will remain a figure in the public eye. He travels with the cheer squad to competitions for men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and football.

According to Minton, the cheerleaders – and especially the leprechaun – are the embodiment of the Notre Dame spirit.

“As ambassadors of our great University, the cheerleaders and leprechaun bring Notre Dame closer to the places we visit – we go to schools, community centers, hospitals and also do pep rallies and of course the games,” she said. “The leprechaun, wearing the ‘green suit,’ becomes the spokesperson for the cheer team in front of crowds when we put on rallies or events – starting cheers and leading the way.”

The coach also said that more than anything, enthusiasm and excitement are essential to a Notre Dame leprechaun.

“I look for someone that has a genuine passion for Notre Dame and its sports teams, someone who embodies the spirit of Notre Dame and its traditions,” Minton said.