Austin Ross fulfills dream of walking on to Notre Dame
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, November 18, 2016
The road to Notre Dame Stadium was not a short or easy path for senior running back Austin Ross.
For Ross, being a Notre Dame student and a Notre Dame football player has been a lifelong dream.
“I always grew up liking Notre Dame,” Ross said. “My dad basically told me I need to come here because it’s a good education, Catholic, best of the best, smart people go there. ‘If you want to have a good future, go to Notre Dame, it’s a really good school.’
“ … I grew up watching Notre Dame football. One of my oldest memories is playing football when I was like four years old and running Notre Dame right, Notre Dame left.”
Ross initially enrolled at Holy Cross with his twin brother Bailey before transferring to Notre Dame his sophomore year. The twins both tried out for the football team that year and were officially added to the roster in the spring. Ross said the transition to the team was a difficult but worthwhile one.
“I was pretty good in high school, and it’s a whole different world when you join a [Division I] football program,” Ross said. “Now, it takes a lot to adjust and you play at a higher level when you play with that kind of competition. … There’s huge time commitments, there’s all kinds of stuff that you would never even imagine going into it, from like the nutrition room, to training, to weight lifting. And it’s definitely challenging, but it’s also worth it. It’s awesome.”
According to Ross, being a member of the team and running out of the tunnel for the first time felt like nothing short of a fantasy.
“As a student, I remember my first game freshman year. … I was thrilled because I was like ‘Wow! I get to go to a Notre Dame football game, I get to do this all year,’” Ross said. “But I remember running out [of the tunnel] against Texas my junior year, and it was unbelievable. I remember looking at the stadium, looking to the left side and I couldn’t believe that I had the gold helmet on and I was about to run out. I don’t even remember what happened next. I was just on the sideline. It was, that was one of those experiences that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and it’s not that significant, nothing happens, it’s just like, those are the moments that change your life.”
One of the highlights of Ross’ Notre Dame football career has been having the opportunity to walk-on with his twin. For Austin, playing football without Bailey, also a running back, at his side, would be unimaginable and being able to do so has added an entirely new level of value to his experience.
“That’s the most important thing in my life, is to be able to go to Notre Dame with my brother, but also play football with him,” Ross said. “And it’s just, it’s an unbelievable experience … just living our dream together is the most important thing to me. It wouldn’t mean as much if I was just on my own. I’ve loved Notre Dame football as long as I can remember, it’s really important to me.
“But my brother is probably the most important thing to me, so being able to combine those two things is just the best and it’s indescribable that I get to do that.”
In addition to his academic and athletic commitments, the former Alumni president has also managed to get involved in campus in other ways. He joined former football player and Student Body President Corey Robinson, whom Ross refers to as a role model, in student government this year as a member of the Department of Residence Life.
As his senior season comes to an end, Ross has completed some of his biggest goals, such as travelling to a game, as he dressed for the Shamrock Series in San Antonio. While Ross has another goal in mind, he said his Notre Dame experience has been an incomparable one.
“I would like to be on special teams, but it’s not a make it or break it,” Ross said. “I’m not going to be depressed if I don’t make it. Just being on the team is good enough for me. … [It’s been] a dream come true.”