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JOE BOLAND: Boland lives family dream by playing for the Irish

Ken Fowler | Friday, November 18, 2005

Joe Boland is living a dream, and his family knows it.

“I’ve wanted to play football here since the time I was about four years old so there was never a choice – it was always Notre Dame,” the walk-on senior said.

Boland, a native of Philadelphia and non-scholarship player who has played on the scout team for four years, said his family and friends respect the amount of work he puts into the football team they all love.

“No one went to Notre Dame in my family. We’re all just big fans – Irish Catholic,” Boland said.

“You go home and you get treated nice so it’s pretty cool. The family’s proud of me.”

Though he was recruited to play football at smaller schools, Boland said his love for the Irish made his college destination a simple choice.

“I was a huge fan growing up and I just decided that’s where I want to go and that’s where I want to play,” he said. “I was recruited Division II and Division III but always wanted to play here.”

Boland played tight end and safety during his senior year of high school at Monsignor Bonner in Philadelphia. He said he hopes to use the skills he has developed at Notre and eventually coach high school football.

“I’d like to coach high school football some day and see where that takes me,” Boland said.

Boland said his experience at Notre Dame will have helped him toward that goal.

“It has helped tremendously. I always wanted to coach high school ball,” he said. “But I mean the teaching, the coaching I got here, and playing another position, you learn all different parts of the game.”

He also said he appreciates playing under two different systems during his time at Notre Dame.

“It’s good to see the two coaches, two different styles. I think I’ll be able to take a lot from Coach Willingham and Coach Weis.”

Boland expresses nothing but appreciation for Notre Dame, even though he has yet to make the field during a game in his four years with the Irish.

“I haven’t played a down yet, so I’m a little nervous,” he said. “I want to get in there.”

“I haven’t played a down yet, so I’m a little nervous,” he said. “I want to get in there.”

Instead, Boland has offered his services on the scout team’s defensive line. After coming to Notre Dame as a tight end, he moved to linebacker when he gained weight. When there was an opening at defensive end on the scout team, he moved to where the team needed him.

He said his time thus far with the Irish has certainly been worthwhile.

“It’s worth it to me,” Boland said. “I’m a walk-on. You know I’m not looking to be an all-American. … I love football. I like playing. I’ve always wanted to play here.”

As his final weeks with the team approach, Boland said he will try to soak in all the pageantry of the final home games and surrounding events. He said he hopes to keep it as a memory for the rest of his life.

“I’ve just got to take it all in. I mean, this is it, this is the end,” Boland said. “I’ll just take it all in and remember it for the rest of my life.”