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Men's Basketball and ND Women's Soccer

Crowleys to convene at Notre Dame on Senior Day

| Friday, February 28, 2014

Perched inside the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion on Saturday will be family members of Notre Dame’s four players being honored during the Senior Day ceremonies.

For some family members, it will be the rare trip to campus.

For some, it will be a chance to celebrate the end of a career.

But for one family, it will be a celebration, a reunion and a transition all in one, a weekend that links the lineage of five generations, three siblings and two Irish student-athletes.

Senior walk-on guard Patrick Crowley will play the final home game of his Notre Dame career Saturday when the Irish square off with Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. Inside Purcell Pavilion, 10 members of Crowley’s family will be there watching him.

His parents, Michael and Kathy, who usually make it out once or twice a year, will be there. Patrick’s younger sister, Paige, who will be a freshman on the Irish women’s soccer team next season, will be there. And Michael’s sister, her husband and their four children will be there from Chicago.

“It’s exciting when everybody comes back,” Patrick said. “My sister’s coming next year so it’s just a nice way for me to transition out and her to transition in.”

But at a school heavy on tradition, the Crowley name has been constant at Notre Dame long before Patrick, long before Paige.

Generation after generation

Patrick and Paige’s great-great-grandfather attended Notre Dame for a few years, likely at least 100 years ago, before he transferred to pursue a major the university didn’t offer. His son attended and graduated from Notre Dame in the early 1930s. Patrick and Paige’s grandfather, Jerome (Jim) Crowley, graduated in 1961. And Michael graduated from Notre Dame in 1985.

Patrick and Paige’s older sister, Meaghan, lived in Lyons Hall for four years, graduated from Notre Dame in 2011, was part of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), taught at an underserved school in Denver for two years and earned her masters in teaching from the University this past summer (Meaghan is now a second-grade teacher at Holy Spirit School in San Jose, Calif.). That graduation was the last time the entire family was on campus together. Until Saturday.

The early days

Patrick remembers the stories of Grace Hall, where his father lived for all four years as an undergraduate student. They’d come out as a family — maybe four or five times total — and Michael would take them around campus.

“He used to tell about living in Grace [Hall] and stories like that,” Patrick said. “So that was fun the first couple times. But the three or four times after that it was really boring. But we let him have his little spiel.”

The Crowleys would visit quite a bit over the years, whether with the entire family or not. Michael’s parents are from South Bend originally, and there are connections on the other side of the family, as well. His mother’s father, Patrick’s great-grandfather, spent 24 years at the university as an electrical engineering professor.

Jim, meanwhile, is the oldest of 10 siblings, some of whom still live in town.

So there were plenty of visits through the years, and traditions developed.

“My dad always loves going to Bonefish,” Patrick said. “We always have to go for some reason. My mom usually only comes when it’s warm. But she’s making the trip out this weekend.”

Following the footprints

Michael and his three children all went to the same elementary school, St. Simon’s, in California, from kindergarten through eighth grade. They all went to the same high school, St. Francis, in Mountain View, Calif.

“I was like, ‘Jeez, I want to do something different,’” Patrick said. “So I looked at Villanova and other schools and I really liked them. But at the end of the day I realized that a Notre Dame degree holds so much.”

He never really considered playing at the Division II or Division III levels. He could have tried to walk on at a few different California schools. But Patrick, like so many of his family members before him, chose to attend Notre Dame.

As a freshman, Patrick went to an open tryout, attempting to make the team. But the Irish didn’t add any walk-ons that year. Patrick tried to stay active around the program, showing his face as much as he could. He didn’t get an internship in the summer following his freshman year, so he took a summer class and followed a strict regimen for lifting, running and playing basketball.

Then, nearly a month before the season was set to begin during his sophomore year, Patrick and three other students got called in for a two-day tryout. Patrick and one other student advanced to the second day.

“We worked out in front of the whole team and all the coaches, so I was super nervous,” Patrick said.

The next day, he received a phone call from coordinator of basketball operations Harold Swanagan.

“He said he had some good and bad news,” Patrick recalled. “And he said that, and I was just terrified when he said it. He said the bad news was that I wouldn’t have a lot of free time. But the good news was that I made the team.”

Patrick called his father right away.

“I don’t think he cried, but he got really choked up,” Patrick said. “That was one of the first times I’ve heard my dad be super emotional, so he was excited for me.

“It meant a lot to him. I think he tried to walk on here to play baseball, too, and he never made it. So he was just proud of me that after I got cut I kept working hard.”

Michael, who is now the president of the Oakland Athletics, did try to walk on to the baseball team as a freshman for the 1982 season. He made it down to the final couple of cuts but didn’t make it. And, unlike Patrick, he didn’t try again the following year.

Building a new family

During Patrick’s first season with the Irish in 2011, Notre Dame had home games Dec. 19 and Dec. 27, meaning Crowley would be spending Christmas in South Bend with his teammates.

“These are your family. … That [Christmas break] was rough,” Crowley said. “But these guys really came around and helped me out.”

It’s that new family he’ll miss most about his three years with the team. For seven or eight months each year, he’s surrounded by the team.

“Every day you see them,” Patrick said. “Honestly, it’s like they become part of your family because you see these boys every day.”

And while he’s played in 30 games and logged just 49 minutes over the course of his career, he wouldn’t change much, and he knows his role.

“I definitely feel it’s important what I do,” Patrick said. “Obviously it’s not as public, what people see. But I’m in there working with the young guys. We go to extra lifts, extra workouts. Practice, I love it. I think it’s important. At the end of the day, I’m happy to be on the team.”

He looks back fondly on his three seasons, recalling some of his favorite moments. There was the come-from-behind, overtime win over Villanova in 2012, when the Irish erased a 20-point deficit. There was the upset of then-No. 1 Syracuse and the five-overtime victory over Louisville last season.

And on Saturday, he’ll play his final game at Purcell Pavilion.

“I definitely think it will be sad for sure,” Patrick said. “It’s been exciting the last three years. I wouldn’t really change it in any way.”

The next in line

As Patrick says, Saturday serves as his transition out and Paige’s transition in. The 5-foot-8 defender is part of the 11-woman recruiting class that recently signed National Letters of Intent to join the Notre Dame women’s soccer program.

Like Patrick, Paige too had choices when it came to making her own college decision.

“Honestly, I just wanted a really good soccer program, but academics was huge for me and my family,” Paige said. “So I kind of limited myself to schools that had those really good academics and soccer.”

Paige considered schools and programs similar to Notre Dame such as Virginia, Georgetown and Duke.

“Family didn’t really play a big part initially in the process,” she said. “But it definitely played a factor once it came down to the line and I decided Notre Dame.

“It wasn’t something that I was like, ‘I definitely want to go to Notre Dame’ from the start. I kept my options but Notre Dame ended up being everything that I ended up wanting.”

Paige took an unofficial visit in the fall of her sophomore year, and then fully began the recruiting process later that school year in March. She committed publicly in July, heading into her junior season.

Paige has been a four-year starter at St. Francis. She was a member of the United States Under-15 National Team in 2011, and she was a part of the Under-18 National Team player pool in 2013.

Thinking she was coming to Notre Dame to play for esteemed coach Randy Waldrum, that plan changed for Paige on Jan. 3 when Waldrum announced his resignation in order to move closer to home to become the head coach of the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League.

“Obviously I was super bummed because he’s a fantastic coach and I would have learned so much from him,” Paige said. “But I totally understand his decision to be closer toward his family. You wish him all the best, but of course you’re bummed to not have a chance to learn from him.”

Despite Waldrum’s departure, Paige held firm to her commitment.

“I was fully committed to going to Notre Dame because I picked a school based on where I wanted to be on campus, if soccer ever wasn’t an option where I was going to be happy,” Paige said. “So I was going to go to Notre Dame regardless. It was unfortunate that he left, but you pick the school for the school.”

It just so happens to be the school that’s a huge part of her family.

She’s talked with Patrick about what to expect as an Irish student-athlete.

“I know it’s going to be extremely tough because Notre Dame has such high standards academically,” Paige said. “Patrick has talked about how helpful people have been helping the athletes with the academics. So I know I’ll have good help. I’ll just have to take advantage of that, and I think I will.”

Patrick only had one piece of advice.

“I told her to stay away from the basketball boys,” he joked.

“No, she’s going to do great. She’s a better athlete than me, and smarter, too. So I’m sure she’ll just be fine here. … It just trickles down, everything in the family.”

So as Patrick closes out his Notre Dame home career Saturday, Paige will be back on campus for the first time since signing with the Irish, beginning her own career.

“I’m sure we’ll look back on it and think that it’s awesome that all four of us — my dad and my two sisters — went here,” Patrick said.

Them and four other generations of Crowleys.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike