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Interhall athletes reflect on football culture, dorm sports

| Thursday, September 20, 2018

With the Notre Dame’s football season well under way, the campus’ 30 dorms are preparing for seasons of their own as the first of intramural games took place this past Sunday.

Junior S.J. Arnone played football in high school and has played on Dillon’s interhall team for the past two years, now serving as the team’s captain. He said the sport is an important way for him to show not only his love for Notre Dame, but also for his hall.

“Football is unique in the sense that it’s a sport you have to play with pride and with passion. You need something to be passionate about, to juice you up for the game,” Arnone said. “I think Notre Dame is a school that has not only school pride — we’re very passionate about Notre Dame and that’s why we love the football team so much — but we also have a lot of dorm pride. I think that’s what makes interhall football so great, that dorm pride.”

In addition to creating a sense of dorm pride, interhall football has strengthened his feeling of community within the dorm, Arnone said.

“It’s been pretty influential in making friends,” he said. “It’s allowed me to connect with some older guys. When I was a freshman, it was kind of hard for me to get to know seniors because they were all off campus, but through interhall, I’d be seeing those guys two to three times a week. And even now that I’m older, I get to connect with the younger guys more. It definitely shaped the friends that I made in the grades above and below me.”

Building friendships aside, one of Arnone’s main goals as captain is retaining last year’s championship title.

“We’re looking to repeat, for sure,” he said. “We won the championship last year, so obviously our minds are thinking about getting back there, but I think we’ve just got to take it game by game.”

To keep their title, they’ll have to beat Duncan, whose team has been runner up for the past two years. Duncan’s captain, junior Kyle Tomshack, is hopeful about his team this year.

“We’ve had pretty good experiences so far,” he said. “The past two years we’ve lost by a combined three points, so maybe this year will be the year.”

Tomshack said he thinks the sport is a great way to not only build community within the dorm, but with other dorms as well.

“It’s such a cool thing that Notre Dame does, being, I think, the only college now that has tackle football for intramurals. It’s a really big deal that Notre Dame still allows us to do this. For a lot of guys who grew up playing football, it’s a way to keep on playing the game they love,” he said. “It’s also a really cool way for the dorms to be competitive with each other. There are guys in other dorms that I would not know because we play against them every single week.”

Sophomore Maria Ritten, captain of Pasquerilla West’s interhall B-team, said she thinks the interhall teams are a great combination of the student body’s love of school and love of dorm.

“I think it says something about the people here,” she said. “Everyone’s super competitive, but everyone also loves the football culture and loves their dorms, and I really think interhall football fosters that dorm community. Some of my closest friends I became friends with through flag football.”

Playing interhall has given Ritten a deeper appreciation for the sport that is so important at Notre Dame, she said.

“I think because Notre Dame is such a football school, a lot of us go in having these preconceptions about what football is. To all of us, we love going to games on Saturday, obviously, but I had never really played prior to playing interhall. Now that I play, I kind of get it,” she said. “I can’t even imagine playing actual football. I have a newfound respect for every football player.”

Senior Belin Mirabile said playing football has also helped her relate to the sport in a deeper way. She is captain of last year’s champion McGlinn Hall, and is hoping to bring home another championship for her fourth and final year of interhall.

“I actually think it kind of like humanizes the football players,” she said. “A lot of them are coaches for the interhall teams. We have three varsity football players who help coach our team, Chris Schilling, Arion Shinaver and Chase Claypool. It’s really cool — them coming to practice and trying to help teach fundamentals. I think getting a chance to play that sport that everyone loves so much on this campus is a cool opportunity, especially last year when we got to be in the stadium, that’s an awesome [opportunity], and just knowing what that’s like definitely added to my Notre Dame experience.”

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