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Christopher Schilling had football written in the stars

| Friday, November 22, 2019

For senior safety Chris Schilling, Notre Dame football seemed written in the stars. Coming from a family with a long history at Notre Dame, the Overland Park, Kansas native dreamed of playing for the Irish in high school. He watched the games every week, knowing every player on the team, and then, all of the sudden, he found himself among those guys on TV. The senior said that being thrust into that environment was a surreal experience. 

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior safety Chris Schilling takes the field before Notre Dame’s 36-3 win over Syracuse at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018.

“I was a cradle Irish,” he said. “My parents went here, and Grotto proposal and Basilica wedding and the whole deal. I’m actually the fourth one in my family to go here, as far as my siblings go, so I’ve always wanted to play at Notre Dame, and that was a goal of mine. You know, when I started high school, I wanted to play here, so it was nice to realize that. 

“It was cool because you grow up being a Notre Dame fan, and then you know, throughout high school you’re still watching the games every weekend, and you know who the guys are on the team. And then you’re put into a locker room with them and it becomes normal. So that was kind of interesting. Something that I put on a pedestal just became normalized pretty fast, which was fun.”

For Schilling, that football journey started at a fairly young age, and, in large part, he credits his older brother who played football at the University of Kansas, as motivation for sticking with the game. 

“I didn’t start playing tackle football until fifth grade,” he said. “I have a brother who’s nine years older than me and played football at Kansas, so that kind of got me into it and kept me going. Through high school he’d mentor for me. So, I’ve played since fifth grade, really loved it, and at that point, that became my favorite sport since I started focusing more near the end of high school football. And I had a chance to come here, which has been perfect, and will be an end to my football career.” 

Although it may be the end of his football career, Schilling said he will still have vivid memories of his Notre Dame football career when it is long in the past. The senior pointed to Notre Dame’s 49-14 victory over USC in his sophomore year and the feeling of running out of the tunnel when asked about his favorite memories. 

“There’s really no better feeling than just running out of the tunnel, especially the first few times. That was a big step for me, and it was pretty exciting. But you know, just being able to work with the team, and I’ve been a defensive signaler for the last three years, so just having a role within the defense and traveling to all the games. It’s pretty cool the way that we do it — it’s first class, and it’s a pretty cool deal,” he said.

Schilling recalled his sophomore year with fondness.

“My sophomore year when we beat USC 49-14, that was just an awesome game,” he said. “To dominate USC like that, you love to do that. This year was fun too, kind of a scrappy game, and getting in the scuffle and all that. It was fun, it’s part of the tradition of the rivalry.” 

Looking back on his time at Notre Dame, Schilling said that what makes the program special in the scope of college football is the kind of player it attracts, and consequently the kind of environment it creates. 

“What we do here is so much different than other big programs,” he said. “You see guys from other big schools talking about how they haven’t set foot on campus yet because they’re in online classes. But, there’s no where else that demands so much of you academically and so much athletically, that you just kind of attract a different kind of guy. And it creates an awesome locker room, with guys that I’m going to stay with forever. That’s what sets Notre Dame apart — we get really good talent, but we also get talent that knows what it is to be a good student and be well rounded.”

As far as the future, Schilling said he will be entering the field of wealth management. 

“I’m going to start in San Francisco next summer,” he said. “I’m doing wealth management for a company called ICONIQ Capital. Really cool company. I’m going to be managing the wealth of some of the Silicon Valley c-suite guys — Mark Zuckerberg is a client — and you know, these different big tech companies. They IPO, and their founders go from having not that much money to being super wealthy. That will be a really cool experience, and I’m excited to do that.” 

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