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ND Women’s Soccer: Rakes of Mallow rise up

Chris Masoud | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Under the leadership of Irish coach Randy Waldrum, attendance has never been an issue at Alumni Stadium, as crowd turnout usually goes hand-in-hand with winning. Yet a growing group of students are taking soccer fandom to the next level.

Inspired by their passion for soccer, the Rakes of Mallow is a newly organized and officially recognized club on campus dedicated to supporting the men’s and women’s soccer programs. Serving a function similar to the Leprechaun Legion, the “Rakes” look to create an intimidating atmosphere that founder Timothy Staub hopes will mirror the dedication of fans displayed in the recent World Cup.

“Coach Waldrum is one of the best coaches in the nation, taking a winning program over and winning some more,” Staub said. “The Irish women are always competing in the College Cup and winning the Big East. We will show our support through song, chants, music and flags.”

Staub said the club idea developed during a year off between his freshman and sophomore years at Notre Dame as he was taking classes at Seton Hall. While attending Pirates soccer games, he noticed a contingent of five students chanting and singing, accompanied with a drum.

Inspired by the students at Seton Hall, Staub added that the seed for the Rakes was planted at a much earlier age.

“In 2002, I remember my dad waking me up at absurd hours to watch USA in the World Cup,” he said. “At this point I became a more involved soccer fan. The 2006 Cup sealed the deal, as I watched USA [against] Italy and saw [Brian] McBride take an elbow in the face. I became a big soccer fan from that point on.”

After meeting with engineering professor and soccer fanatic Ramzi Bualuan and gauging interest from fellow students on campus, Staub submitted a formal proposal that was approved the week leading up to Activities Night. Three hundred signups later, the Rakes have become one of the fastest growing clubs on campus.

Although students may not recognize the club’s name, they may be more familiar with the tune Rakes of Mallow is named after — the traditional “jig” played at Irish sporting events.

“It is a song about youthful individuals who are a little chaotic, but enjoy their young days in the town of Mallow of County Cork,” Staub said. “That’s how I saw what the Rakes could be like — people that bring organized chaos to create atmosphere at [Notre Dame] matches.”

So far the Rakes have been well received by Waldrum and his squad. Making their debut in the season opener against Santa Clara on Sep. 3, the Rakes packed the house and lent their support to a 1-0 Irish victory.

“The energy on the field was so different than it’s ever been,” Waldrum said after the game. “To hear them come in, and the bagpipes playing, and the horns blowing … to see all those guys and girls behind the goals of the opposition — it’s uplifting and it’s that atmosphere that you want at a soccer game.”