University announces 2019-2020 leprechaun lineup
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, April 17, 2019
The leprechaun lineup for the 2019-20 school year has been determined the “most diverse roster” ever, the Notre Dame cheerleading program announced Tuesday.
Junior Samuel Jackson and sophomores Conal Fagan and Lynnette Wukie will all act as the University’s mascot for the upcoming year, ringing in the most diverse group since the leprechaun became the official mascot in 1965.
Jackson and Wukie will be the second and third African Americans to hold the role, and Wukie will become the University’s first female leprechaun.
Fagan, who is from Derry, Northern Ireland, will enter his second season in the job.
“Each bring their own strengths and personalities to the role, and I’m excited to see them represent Notre Dame on the sidelines next season,” head cheerleading coach Delayna Herndon said in the release. “As such a visible representative of Notre Dame, the leprechaun is a role model to fans across the country, and we hope this group can inspire people of all backgrounds to see themselves as a vital part of the Notre Dame family.”
Jackson, a native of Alabama and a resident of Keough Hall on campus, said Mike Brown — Notre Dame’s first African American leprechaun and current regional director for athletics advancement — and his history with the role prompted his interest.
“When I first came here, I was a big Notre Dame fan, but I didn’t have the history or legacy that my friends did,” Jackson said in the release. “Being able to make my own experiences and memories here at this University and to be able to represent it — especially as a senior — is just the best feeling. I feel like I have solidified my presence and voice, and am now etching it into the very fabric of the University.”
Fagan, during his time as a 2018-19 mascot, has helped cheer on a wide variety of sports and accompanied the women’s basketball team to the Final Four. A resident of St. Edward’s Hall on campus, Fagan was a walk-on for the Irish men’s soccer team before taking on the role of being the leprechaun during his sophomore year. As the first native Irishman to hold the job, Fagan said he was unsure how excited he would be in the job at first because mascots and cheerleading are not a part of the culture in Ireland.
“I’m really honored to be back,” Fagan said in the release. “When I first took up the leprechaun role, I didn’t know how much I would be excited by it and invested in it because back home mascots and cheerleading isn’t really a thing. Coming here and experiencing it first-hand is such a special thing to me and I think people can see that as well. Every time I put the suit on, it feels like I’m Superman or something, so it’s pretty special.”
A sophomore in Pasquerilla West Hall and an Ohio native, Wukie said she has a “need to lead.” The release said Wukie recognized her potential status as a role model since she would be the first female leprechaun.
“I talked about being a role model (during the tryout process) because even through high school and into college, it’s always been important to me to be someone people can look up to,” Wukie said in the release. “I think I hadn’t (yet) found that thing, like I wasn’t fulfilling my true purpose here to be that face and that role model, so when this opportunity came about I thought it was destiny. This is what I’m meant to be doing. … My rector told me, ‘Little girls are going to want to be you,’ so to be that role model for young women is really special.”