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Baseball: Chase fulfills dream by playing for Irish

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Irish senior co-captain Tommy Chase never needed to be sold on Notre Dame — he spent most of his high school years trying to show off his skills for the Notre Dame coaches.

“I was always a huge Notre Dame fan, so I kind of came out and recruited myself,” Chase said. “I came out to the camps and they saw me and they wanted to have me on the team, but they were a little short on scholarship money, so they said that I could come and play as a walk-on, so I didn’t have a scholarship.”

Chase’s plans for his Notre Dame career probably didn’t include the knee surgery that wiped out his sophomore season or a coaching change before his junior year, but even as a walk-on without a scholarship, he knew he made the right choice.

“It’s just been an absolute dream being here for the last four years,” Chase said. “It’s definitely the best decision I ever made.”

Now that Chase has lived his childhood fantasy as a middle infielder for the Irish, he and his teammates are helping South Bend elementary students develop their own goals through the “Dream Team” project.

“Generally, we go with our teammates, and we work with third and fourth grade classrooms and go in once a week for five weeks, and we essentially have a little curriculum each week,” Chase said. “We talk about having dreams and having goals and working really hard to attain those goals.

“I think it’s very important, because a lot of these kids come from families where they don’t necessarily have two parents and the support isn’t necessarily there, so having Notre Dame athletes and people they look up to coming in and telling them that they can do whatever they want is really special, and it’s really an honor to be able to do that.”

Chase and his teammates followed up the “Dream Team” project by inviting third grade classes from McKinley and Perley Elementary Schools to visit Notre Dame on consecutive Friday nights earlier this semester, giving the kids an opportunity to skate at the new Compton Family Ice Arena one week watch a hockey game from the student section the next.

“That was about bringing kids from South Bend to Notre Dame, because some of these kids will never come on the Notre Dame campus, and just to be able to see what it means to be at Notre Dame puts a picture to what their dreams can be,” Chase said. “It was really successful and we really had a great time.”

Chase also played a large role in organizing the baseball team’s “Adopt a Family” effort, which ultimately raised nearly a thousand dollars to aid a local family, and helped recruit 24 student athletes who joined him on a fall break trip to aid in the clean-up of Tuscaloosa, Ala., which was heavily damaged by a tornado last April.

But between organizing a new service project, helping his assigned third grade student prepare for the state-wide standardized test or attending a Notre Dame Christian Athletes meeting, Chase is also busy fulfilling captaincy responsibilities with senior pitcher Will Hudgins.

“We run most of the meetings, we facilitate meetings [with] the sports psychologist on campus, we make all the little decisions, including what we wear on the road, curfews on the road, and who’s responsible for carrying what bag on the road,” Chase said. “We have to keep the focus on our goal at hand and constantly built relationships with our other teammates and just try to be the best model of leadership that we can be.”

Chase and the rest of the Irish travel to San Marcos, Texas to take on Texas State on Friday.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]