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St. Edward’s Hall residents continue long-held game day tradition of storming reflection pool

| Friday, October 11, 2019

At 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Notre Dame’s campus prepares for the coming football game. Tailgates are set up, families are walking around campus and students are planning for the long day to come, hopeful for another Irish victory.

But outside Hesburgh Library, a different type of spectacle can be observed: St. Edward’s Hall residents emerge wearing swimsuits and storm the reflection pool. A crowd gathers to grab some photos or high-five the swimmers, and after a few chants to get the energy high, the men dive in.

Ashton Bieri | The Observer
St. Edward’s Hall residents run through the reflecting pool in front of Hesburgh Library, taking part in a long-held dorm tradition.

Junior Josh Gambardella, president of St. Edward’s, explained how this unusual, memorable tradition got started at Notre Dame.

“It all began with Bobby Weltner during the 2010 football season,” Gambardella said. “It started off as a small and quickly put together event with only about 10 to 15 other guys participating. The Notre Dame Security Police eventually arrived and kicked them out of the reflection pool.”

Over the years the tradition has only grown, Gambardella said.

“We now have about 50 to 100 people showing up,” he said. “We continue the tradition today for the same reason Weltner started it: To rally the troops early in the morning to cheer on the Irish.”

Residents of St. Edward’s Hall continue the tradition even in the bitter cold later in the season; by November, the relaxed dip in the pool turns into a full sprint in and out, followed by a swift return back to the dorm. Despite the cold, they remain dedicated throughout the football season and will continue to wear swimsuits as temperatures drop, Gambardella said.

Freshman Marcus Braun said the event is a bonding experience for the hall because residents get to “share the fun” and “misery” with the rest of the residents, particularly as it gets colder.

“They drain the reflection pool after the November games, so we just run out on the concrete and a lot of the guys will wipe out,” Braun said. “The pool will also stain your clothes blue if you’re not careful, especially if you’re wearing white.”

Senior Josh Blossfeld said the tradition is a great opportunity for dorm residents to get closer.

“It’s hard to get a whole hall together on a game day, but everyone in Sted’s wakes up and is encouraged to join no matter what grade they are in,” he said. “It really brings the entire hall together, we get the music going and it almost makes tailgates seem relaxed after such a start to the morning.”

Recently, the residents have been joined by a mystery man who wanted to join in on the morning swim.

“We’re not exactly sure who he is, but a middle-aged man now shows up every time we float, every single weekend and none of us know him,” Gambardella said.

Braun said he shared a funny encounter with the honorary hall member.

“It was pretty funny,” Braun said. “He was standing right next to me and he just hopped up on the step, took his shirt off, and ran through with the guys.”

In addition to the mystery man, many returning St. Edward’s Hall residents also run through the pool with their former dorm.

The tradition has produced some great memories and funny stories students can pass on, Blossfeld said.

“We’ve been on College Game Day twice,” he said. “The ESPN crew was all set up and when the cameras turned on we ran through. Someone once brought a giant inflatable horse, guys will bring an inflatable canoe out, someone once even rode a lime bike through the reflection pool.”

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