Family ties run deep between Patrick Mazza and ND
Elizabeth Greason | Thursday, November 12, 2015
Attending Notre Dame was not a difficult decision for senior defensive lineman Patrick Mazza.
For him, Notre Dame is a family affair.
The Illinois native’s parents and older sister all attended the University, so he grew up as an Irish fan. He said he has found Notre Dame’s combination of strong academics and a historically powerful football program as perfect fit for him.
“I’ve pretty much always wanted to come here,” Mazza said. “It was a pretty easy decision. It’s been pretty cool to be able to get a top-flight education, pursue what I want to do after college and at the same time be able to be a part of a top-flight program like this. It’s been pretty cool. You don’t have that kind of opportunity at most schools in the country.”
Mazza’s ascent to the big stage has been anything but typical, however. For the first two years of his Notre Dame career, Mazza played interhall football for his dorm, Sorin College, before walking on to the varsity team last year. The path to the top has not always been an easy one, but Mazza said it has been worthwhile.
“Being a walk-on presents certain challenges in terms of football,” he said. “But I accepted my role, and I fulfilled it to the best of my capabilities.”
Being a student-athlete at Notre Dame is not something Mazza said he takes lightly. The pre-med major has goals of ultimately going to medical school and becoming a physician, a dream he said has been just as long-standing as the one he had to attend Notre Dame.
“It’s been a goal for a pretty long time now,” Mazza said. “My uncle was a trauma surgeon down in Galveston, [Texas,] and I’ve always looked up to him. I was definitely inspired by him.”
Being a student in one of the most demanding majors Notre Dame has to offer, as well as a varsity football player, has forced Mazza to learn to manage his time effectively and strive for balance, he said.
“It’s definitely tough juggling being a pre-med major with football,” Mazza said. “You just get better at it as your career goes on, and you learn how to handle it. It has ended up working out pretty well.”
While Mazza has fulfilled his role on the football team, he also entered Notre Dame with the goal of excelling in the classroom, a goal which he said he feels he has also achieved.
“I think I did pretty well,” he said. “I’m in good position to be where I want to be a year from now when I’m looking to go to medical school.”
Mazza’s talents extend beyond the football field and the classroom, as well. The defensive lineman was also a member of Finnigan’s, the defending champions of the annual Bookstore Basketball tournament, which Mazza said has been one of the highlights of his time at Notre Dame.
“Bookstore has always been something that I’ve looked forward to being a part of,” Mazza said. “I had always heard about the guys who played here back in the ’80s, like the Tim Browns. It’s definitely a pretty special thing, and to be able to advance to the final and then beat the three-time champs was a ton of fun. We had a big crowd there, and having the chance to play a sport that I’m not playing for the school was a good change of pace.”
Mazza said he has made the most of his time at Notre Dame and that his experience at Notre Dame has been a special one.
“It’s a tightly knit place,” he said. “With the people you meet and the relationships you form, all while getting the benefits of a top-flight education and playing for a program like this, all wrapped up together in one college experience is pretty cool and unique.”