Students participate in Shamrock Series events in San Antonio
Courtney Becker | Monday, November 14, 2016
While the annual Shamrock Series always serves as an opportunity to bring a Notre Dame football game experience to fans in different cities throughout the country, this year’s festivities additionally paid tribute to men and women serving in the armed forces.
“Veterans Day was essentially at the nucleus of the entire weekend,” sophomore Army ROTC member Mary Ninneman said in an email. “Not only were we playing a military academy, but Veterans Day added significance to the phrase ‘God, Country, Notre Dame,’ making it particularly relevant and omnipresent.”
Ninneman attended the game along with several of her fellow Army ROTC cadets thanks to an opportunity the program provided in honor of the occasion.
“As a member of Army ROTC, it was especially meaningful to attend the Notre Dame-Army game,” she said. “Watching the West Point team and viewing them in the context of individuals I will serve our nation with in the future truly placed an emphasis on selfless service. … It was incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring to see so many veterans at the game and so many individuals who knew people who had served and were serving.”
Because the Shamrock Series is technically a home game for Notre Dame, the Band of the Fighting Irish also traveled to San Antonio to participate in the festivities. Sophomore baritone player John Lombardo said in an email the highlight of the weekend was the band’s concert on the steps of the Alamo.
“Seeing our Irish fans, native Texans and the band all together in one hallowed location and celebrating our freedom to come together and enjoy our way of life was really something else,” Lombardo said. “It reminded me just how much Notre Dame means to our fans and people everywhere. It was also an honor to have the opportunity to play in front of such a historical landmark that is an integral icon for both Texan and American history.”
Lombardo traveled to Boston with the band for last season’s Shamrock Series game and was able to connect more with San Antonio’s culture, he said.
“This year’s experience was different in that we had a little more opportunity to explore the city of San Antonio than we did Boston,” he said. “The culture of San Antonio is much more apparent and the band got to really immerse themselves in that culture through the authentic restaurants, music and local historical attractions like the Alamo, which was only a stone’s throw away from our hotel.”
Lombardo was amazed by the number of people who came to watch the band’s various performances throughout the weekend.
“The special events like the concert at the Alamo and the march out were something to be remembered,” he said. “It’s a humbling reminder to see such a turn out for the Irish in a city a thousand miles away and to feel so graciously welcomed by that city.”
Junior Tommy Clarke, who made the trip to San Antonio as part of a group of 24 Notre Dame students who demonstrated science experiments for over 1,200 junior high school students Friday morning, made sure he took time to see the band perform.
“Seeing them play in front of the Alamo on Friday or march through downtown to the Alamodome on Saturday was pretty neat,” Clarke said in an email. “Seeing people come out of stores or leave their tables at restaurants along the Riverwalk and line the river to watch and listen to the band as they passed was awesome.”
Ninneman said the Shamrock Series festivities were focused largely in one area, as opposed to the game day activities at Notre Dame.
“When we are at Notre Dame, activities are all over campus on Saturdays from the band marching all over campus to the widespread tailgates,” she said. “Down at the Shamrock Series the events prior to the game were all directly outside of the Alamodome. It was a very fair-esque atmosphere with food trucks, the live music and performances, and people everywhere.”
Because these events took place mainly outside the Alamodome, Ninneman took advantage of the opportunity to run a Shamrock Series 5K through San Antonio.
“It was an excellent way to experience the city of San Antonio while still being there for the overarching reason of Notre Dame,” she said.
Clarke appreciated seeing the extent of Notre Dame’s fan base outside of campus.
“It was so cool to see Notre Dame pretty much take over a city,” he said. “There were so many Notre Dame fans from all over the country who came in to see this game. … Whole restaurants were filled with what seemed to be only Notre Dame and Army fans.”
Lombardo said the spirit of the two schools was evident in his interactions with fans.
“The Army fans were some of the most respectful and friendly I’ve ever encountered,” he said. “Each one I encountered congratulated us on the win and they complimented the band’s halftime show.”