Fox reflects on cheer career at Notre Dame
Maddy Karnes | Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Three-hour practices Monday through Thursday. Early morning, 6 a.m. lifting sessions Tuesday and Thursday. Pep Rally Friday night. An 8 a.m. wakeup call Saturday morning and seven jam-packed hours leading up to 3:30 p.m. kickoff … but this isn’t the schedule of football player. Add in a few hours on Sunday at the women’s volleyball or men’s basketball game and throw in some cross-field backflips, and this is the football weekend schedule of senior Irish cheerleader Kendall Fox.
Fox, who joined the cheer team at the end of her freshman year, has worked her way through the ranks, progressing through the Green and Blue squads until rising to the top team, Gold, as a junior. After participating in gymnastics her whole life, Fox had the experience necessary to make her way up the squads. Now, as a senior and one of the cheer team’s key members, Fox’s career at Notre Dame is drawing to a close.
Fox said football games were the highlight of her experience and traveling with the Irish squad has meant a lot to her over the years
“It really isn’t that we just show up and cheer,” Fox said. “Normally it’s that we meet at 4 a.m. on Friday, then we’ll drive to Chicago, we’ll get to the airport, and fly out to wherever we need to go. We’ll get in at around 2 p.m. on Friday, we normally have an hour or so of free time, and then we’ll start getting ready for the pep rally or any Friday night events, typically an alumni event.”
An away game day typically begins at 6 a.m., with the squad performing routines before game time and mingling with fans and alumni — Fox’s favorite part of the experience. After the game, the team usually flies back to South Bend on a red-eye in order to get back to campus in time to cheer at a women’s volleyball game on Sunday.
Being on the squad is a huge time commitment, Fox said.
“It’s difficult,” she said. “It is a huge sacrifice with school and friends. Being a student at Notre Dame is typically hard for anyone and the athlete commitment definitely adds to that.”
Although the team still has a full schedule of cheering in the spring as well, the end of football season is a strange feeling for Fox.
“There’s really nothing like it … the experience of cheering in the various stadiums is really awesome. I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with myself when I come back after graduation to experience game day as a fan.”
Looking back at her time on the cheer team, Fox said she is overwhelmingly appreciative of all the experiences she’s had.
“The biggest takeaway is appreciating the opportunities that I’ve been given,” Fox said. “There’s been so many cool places that we’ve gotten to go to. I’ll look back and think, ‘No one else got to do that, no one else got to meet Garth Brooks just because they did cheerleading,’” Fox said in reference to the pre-show meet-and-greet the cheer team had with Brooks before his stadium concert at Notre Dame in 2018.
“Then there’s being a part of something that’s bigger than just myself doing schoolwork,” Fox said. “It is very cool to be representing the university.”
As an example for so many, Fox cherishes the role she has had in the lives of the kids she has met.
“It’s a great feeling and an honor to have little girls look up to you, to come up to you and say, ‘I want to be a Notre Dame cheerleader,’” she said. “It’s a very unique thing to be a part of and I’m so grateful for that experience.”