Tony Springmann transitions from player to coach
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, November 20, 2014
However, Springmann was able to hold on to his scholarship as a medical hardship player and has adapted to a new role helping coach the defensive line.
The former defensive lineman said he had previously hoped that his recurring knee injuries, which also ruled him out for the entire 2013 season, were over. But when he realized he would not be able to play this year, he said he found himself able to accept it and move into his coaching position.
“Over the past summer, things just started to turn south, and I knew it was time,” Springmann said. “It just gave me a different challenge, that’s all.”
Although he said he had to spend some time adapting to coaching instead of playing, Springmann said he now feels confident in his new role.
“It was a little weird at first,” he said. “At first, it was sort of awkward to get over at the beginning of the season, but now it’s fluid, there’s a rhythm to it, and there’s an expectation every day you have to live up to, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Springmann also said recent experience with the team gives him a new perspective and that he feels he can use this to help some of the younger players.
“My goal this season is to get our defensive line, where we have a lot of young guys, to be the best that they possibly can be by being a mentor, a role model and just whatever I have to do,” Springmann said.
“It’s been rewarding because I can’t physically be playing, so seeing some of the other guys learn and work on obstacles that I used to on a daily basis has been really rewarding,” he added. “It’s refreshing.”
Springmann arrived at Notre Dame in 2011 from Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which had already produced players for the Irish in previous seasons — former tight end Tyler Eifert, who was a junior when Springmann arrived, and former wide receiver John Goodman, who was a senior. Springmann said knowing some players before he arrived helped him make the transition to college.
“The guys I knew at Bishop Dwenger … really made a difference in my coming here,” Springmann said. “They were definitely an influence, and they were close friends of mine.”
From there, after not seeing any game action in his freshman year, Springmann played a part in all 13 games of Notre Dame’s 2012 run to the BCS National Championship Game. Over the course of the 2012 season, Springmann recorded 11 tackles and sacked former Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
Springmann said he looks back fondly upon 2012 and enjoyed being able to play a part in such a successful season.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “Like any season, it has its ups and downs, but the season on the whole was a lot of fun, and the guys made it a lot better.”
Springmann said that after this season, he hopes to give back to the community by working with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and teaching in under-resourced schools before he will consider his long-term plans.
“I was admitted into the ACE teaching program, so I’ll be teaching for two years, and then from that point, I’m still not sure, but I have a couple of different options,” he said.
Currently, though, Springmann is enjoying his continued involvement with the team. Being able to work with the players and everyone involved with the program has been a highlight of his year, Springmann said.
“My favorite thing about Notre Dame and about Notre Dame football is the people,” he said. “The people really make this program what it is.”
“I was close to a lot of older guys here when I was a freshman and a sophomore. Guys like [former Irish receiver] Robby Toma, [safety] Zeke Motta and [defensive lineman] Kapron-Lewis Moore,” Springmann added. “Now, I’ve really been enjoying working with [defensive lineman] Andrew Trumbetti, one of the freshmen — that’s been a lot of fun.”