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A call to the Leprechaun Legion

and | Friday, February 14, 2020

Dear Leprechaun Legion,

Notre Dame’s reputation and prowess in the collegiate athletics world speaks for itself. From the endless number of conference and national championships to the esteemed group of student-athletes who have made the transition to professional careers and to those who are making a difference every day in society, the caliber of the Notre Dame student-athlete cannot be underestimated. The development of these individuals, the Notre Dame way, is what sets them apart from the rest.

The very essence of Notre Dame is contained within its people and their unique identities that make this place so special. To witness sporting history being written is a powerful experience that will never be forgotten. The ability of student-athletes to empower, inspire and embolden the Notre Dame experience cannot be rivaled. However, this process cannot be a transactional relationship; rather, the more you give, the more you get in return.

If you speak to athletes who have competed at the highest level, one thing which they will agree on is how special it is to see a sea of fans chanting their name. Through the highs and the lows, fans can make or break a season. But what makes us different is that we bleed blue and gold “what though the odds be great or small…”

I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries of the world through my own personal sporting experiences. But the moments I have witnessed during my time here at Notre Dame will always remain at the top of the list. I’m not just talking witnessing national championship games or witnessing us defeat our biggest rivals. I’m talking about seeing athletes hitting new personal records, watching parents embrace their children on senior night, meeting lifelong Notre Dame fans who have been granted their final wish to travel to campus before they leave this Earth.

So why did I feel compelled to write such a letter?

It is my belief that we, as a student body, and wider Notre Dame community, can do a lot more to support our student-athletes.

Do you ever acknowledge just how impressive these student-athletes are? Do you ever think about the daily 5 a.m. lift sessions in the Gug? Or the thousands of hours that are spent mastering their respective disciplines in practice? Or the devastating injuries that leave them feeling in isolation as they see their very identity and freedom of expression taken away from them? Or the lack of sleep they experience each week because of the insane travel schedule? Or the social media pressure that follows them everywhere they go? Or the pressure to keep performing academically while also maintaining optimum performance when it comes to competition?

When I say supporting our student-athletes, I’m not just talking about football. Don’t get me wrong, football has become extremely important to me, and it will always be an integral part of our culture. Yet, for other sports, the current level of support leaves a lot to be desired.

When I look around in Purcell Pavilion, empty seats seem to be a constant talking point. At the time of writing this, men’s basketball just won their fourth-straight game in a row. Yet, the arena was half empty. Big names mean bigger crowds. I get it. But if we want to dominate the collegiate athletics scene, every single game needs to be as significant as the next, regardless of the opponent.

Our women’s basketball team has had a difficult season, there’s no denying that. But regardless of how the season has been going, what disappoints me more than anything is that we rarely have a lot of students in attendance to watch one of the most prestigious programs in the country. I love having our local South Bend community fanbase at the games, but we need more students. I know our record isn’t where it has been in recent years. But let me tell you something: We’re coming for that national championship very soon. Trust me.

I want Purcell Pavilion to become a fortress for our teams. A place where opposing teams are not prepared to play before they even step foot on the court because they know that they will not be able to handle the pressure. A place where ESPN wants to come every single week because we have one of the most electric atmospheres in college basketball.

But this shouldn’t just be Purcell Pavilion. This should be at every single sporting arena on this campus.

I’m not asking you to sacrifice your whole life to follow Notre Dame athletics or even give up all of your weekends. However, I am imploring you to go and support your Notre Dame family and show everybody exactly what it means to be the Fighting Irish.

Let’s take Notre Dame back to the top once again.

From your friendly Irish Leprechaun,



Conal Fagan


Feb. 13

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nelisha currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. Previously, she served as Viewpoint Editor. You can usually find her reading books, doing crosswords or talking about being from Vegas.

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