Brian Kelly won’t be the only new face on the Notre Dame Stadium sidelines this fall.
David Zimmer, a junior from Angola, Ind. and a resident of O’Neill Hall, was named the new leprechaun for the 2010-2011 school year, kicking off his new role at The Shirt unveiling Friday at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted ever since I came here,” Zimmer said. “I knew that I fit the bill. I’ve never been shy in front of crowds.”
Zimmer said he has been vying for the position since last year’s tryouts.
“I tried out last year and got the Blue Squad [leprechaun position] … and came back this year with more experience and knowledge and was able to get the Gold Squad position,” he said.
Zimmer, who transferred from Purdue, wrestled his freshman year and came to tryouts his sophomore year as a cheerleading novice.
“I actually had never had any cheerleading experience before,” Zimmer said.
As Blue Squad leprechaun, Zimmer led cheers at the men’s and women’s soccer, hockey, volleyball and women’s basketball games.
Zimmer said his experience on the Blue Squad helped him secure the Gold Squad position, but it did have its difficulties.
“They like to see how you can handle yourself in a game time situation,” Zimmer said.
“Being a Blue Squad leprechaun was sometimes difficult because often there wasn’t the same crowd capacity that men’s football or basketball had. But toward the end of the season, women’s basketball was very good and had the chance to travel with them to Connecticut and Kansas City.
“It was a very big learning experience.”
Zimmer was named the new leprechaun two weeks ago after an intense tryout that included cheerleading stunts, a three-minute pep rally, a television interview adapted to a game time situation, a jig-off and a pushup contest.
Fifteen men originally came out for tryouts, and five remained for the final round of tryouts.
While practicing for the tryouts, Zimmer said he and former leprechaun Dan Collins became friends.
“I had a lot of chances to talk to Dan and ask him questions,” Zimmer said. “He really did serve as a very good mentor. He was a wonderful leprechaun.”
Collins said Zimmer is the right kind of leprechaun the program is looking for.
“Dave really brought an intense level of energy to his tryout and that’s one of the most essential things that any leprechaun candidate needs,” Collins said. “I think in addition to his energy, he also has that fighting Irish swagger that the leprechaun needs to have.”
Collins also said Zimmer’s longtime enthusiasm for Notre Dame will benefit his work as the new leprechaun.
“He grew up a lifelong ND fan so he has a sense of the tradition he’s now a part of,” Collins said. “He really understands the spirit he’s called to embody. He’s going to do a great job.”
Zimmer said he looks forward especially to next year’s football opener.
“Being in the tunnel [before the Blue-Gold game] was such an amazing experience,” Zimmer said. “I think the thing I’m looking forward to most is running onto the field and carrying that flag at our home opener against Purdue.”