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Pep rallies refocused on students

Megan Doyle | Friday, September 10, 2010

The student body will help launch a new era of pep rallies when it marches down Notre Dame Avenue and into the Irish Green tonight in preparation for the Michigan game Saturday, student body president Catherine Soler said.


“The morale and student perception of pep rallies last year was low and negative,” Soler said. “All of us in student government knew that pep rallies were an important part of life here and wanted to make that a priority this year.”


Soler and Bell approached Game Day Operations last spring to present the idea of a student walkover and to emphasize the need for more student-oriented pep rallies, Mike Seamon, director of Game Day Operations said.


Student government teamed up with the Athletic Department, Game Day Operations and Hall Presidents’ Council (HPC) to coordinate pep rally changes, Soler said.


“The groups that are our biggest focus are the team and the student body,” Seamon said. “With a new coach and a new era starting, we thought it was a perfect time to reengage the student body.”


Seamon said the walkover could be the “newest Notre Dame student tradition.”


“We wanted to make students a bigger focus of the pep rallies,” Seamon said. “What a better way to do that than announce their arrival and have them march down the avenue into a huge reserved space for them?”


The University will close Notre Dame Avenue for 15 minutes while the student body follows a procession consisting of the Notre Dame Security Police, the Notre Dame Fire Department, the cheerleading and pom squads, the leprechaun and the marching band into a designated student section next to the stage at Irish Green, Seamon said.


“We are very excited about the idea of the walkover,” Bell said. “It will eliminate dorms just standing around with a huge group of alumni waiting for the pep rally to start.”


Bell said pep rallies should to be a time for the students and the football team to share their enthusiasm about the upcoming game.


“Residence halls have a huge role in the success of the pep rally because of the walkovers when they coordinate students going to the pep rallies,” Bell said.


HPC co-chairs Alexa Doyle and Mike Oliver said the student body powers the football team’s spirit during the season.


 “When the team comes to the pep rally and see thousands of students there, they will be electrified,” Oliver said. “They will see how much the students are behind them.”


A priority for the pep rallies should be bringing the team and the student body together before the game, Oliver said.


“We are trying to reinforce the relationship between students and the football program that makes Notre Dame so special,” Soler said.


HPC arranged a competition for the most spirited residence hall during each pep rally. As an extra incentive, the winning hall will win a visit from head coach Brian Kelly.


Seamon said Kelly was excited about the new attitude about pep rallies from the start of the discussions between the football team, Game Day Operations and the Athletics Department.


“Coach Kelly totally gets Notre Dame,” he said. “His enthusiasm is contagious, and it rubs off on everybody.”


Kelly will host each pep rally in order to deliver his message from the week of practice, and to take the entire team before the student body to introduce the captains to the fans, Seamon said.


This year’s pep rallies will be “short but with high intensity and lots of spirit,” Soler said.


“We made sure pep rallies will have no lag time now,” Doyle said. “When the students arrive the pep rally will start.”


The first pep rallies of the year will be hosted in a number of different locations including Irish Green, the Purcell Pavilion and Stepan Center to test the benefits and drawbacks of different campus venues, Bell said.


“This is the year where students can prove which pep rally locations they like the most so we hope students embrace this chance,” Bell said. “It will be hard to persuade those involved in planning the pep rally to go to a certain location if there was not a huge student showing.”


Seamon said 25 to 30 thousand fans are expected for the Michigan pep rally.

“We were very pleased with the opportunity given to us by the athletic department in hearing our ideas for restructuring,” Bell said. “We appreciate their openness.”


Soler said the student walkover will begin at 5:45 p.m. from Main Circle.