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ASU students to visit during football game

Megan Doyle | Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Arizona State University (ASU) students and staff will experience the energy that electrifies the Notre Dame community on a home football weekend when they visit campus for the upcoming Pittsburgh game.

Director of Student Activities Facilities Ryan Willerton said 15 students and six administrators from ASU will arrive on campus Thursday to participate in a weekend designed to teach them about tradition at Notre Dame.

ASU Associate Athletic Director Steve Hank graduated from Notre Dame in 1994 and contacted the University’s Athletic Department to coordinate the trip, Willerton said.

“Their intent is to see what makes Notre Dame special and take ideas back to ASU,” Willerton said. “They want to use this opportunity to make their student life more vibrant.”

The ASU students were selected from undergraduate and graduate student government, residence hall associations and major student organizations, Willerton said.

The relationship between the athletic program and the student body at Notre Dame is one of the main reasons ASU will visit the campus.

“When we say student athletes are truly a part of the student body, it is true. We are not cheering for a separate entity when we root on our team. We are cheering for our peers,” Hall Council President Alexa Doyle said.

Student leaders on campus will host the visitors in their dorms and introduce them to Notre Dame traditions.

“Notre Dame hosts are welcoming them into their hall communities for the weekend,” Willerton said.

Doyle said she wanted to host a visiting student because conversations between schools can provide an interesting viewpoint on the way other universities function.

“Over 80 percent of our students live in residence halls,” Doyle said. “I hope they get a feel for how we maintain that bond.”

The line between the athletic program and the student body really blur with the sense of community at this school, Doyle said.

Student body president Catherine Soler said she hopes the students will see the family aspect of the Notre Dame community.

“We have a lot of external events going on during a football weekend,” Soler said. “But our student body is really motivated internally with a love and a loyalty for Notre Dame.”

The Arizona State group will participate in events that define a traditional football weekend, including the Friday trumpet under the dome, the drummer’s circle, the player walk from the Basilica to the Notre Dame Stadium Saturday and the band concert on the steps of Bond Hall before the game.

They are also encouraged to attend events for men’s and women’s swimming and diving as well as women’s soccer.

“This is also meant to be an educational experience where the visitors can witness and participate in Notre Dame traditions but also see how the entire weekend operates,” Willerton said.

The ASU students and staff will hear presentations from Game Day Operations, women’s basketball and the Athletics Department. The students will also attend an open house with informational tables from student government, Student Union Board, The Shirt Project and several other student groups.

Sophomore Ricky Bevington will host a member of ASU’s Interfraternity Council (IFC).

The unique residential life on campus is the base of game day spirit at Notre Dame, Bevington said.

“I feel that it will be a great opportunity for the ASU IFC leaders to see how our residence halls play an integral role in game weekend,” he said. “What makes game day so great is the sense of community formed when thousands of students come together with thousands of fans to support a University that means so much to us.”

Sophomore Class Council vice president Kevin Doherty said the visitors’ schedule will take them through all the events that contribute to the vibe of a Notre Dame football weekend.

“I think it is hard to put into words but it all comes down to the tradition of the football program here,” Doherty said.

The Notre Dame representatives hope the ASU students will see the spirit that builds through Friday march out, the pep rally, the drummer’s circle, Saturday concession stands and game day events, and hopefully they can take some strategies back to their campus to build a community of fans there, he said.

“We all just truly love our University,” Bevington said. “That’s what makes the alma mater at the end of the game so awesome.”