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Henige talks call to tradition, chance to make history at Notre Dame

| Friday, December 18, 2020

Jack Henige was meant to go to Notre Dame. The Hinsdale, Ill. native said himself he had “always wanted to go to Notre Dame.”

“I was very familiar with the school campus, growing up a big fan and then playing high school football, the opportunity to walk on came about, and it really was just too good to turn down,” he said.

Henige, a finance major also minoring in history, holds a deep love for the University and its tradition, which influenced his decision to attend and play football for the Irish.

“I love the University, I love the academic and athletic excellence that’s raised here,” Henige said. “I think it was irresistible to join that tradition.”

Although his football career is coming to a close, the tight end still gained some pretty exceptional memories during his time as a student athlete at Notre Dame. When asked what his favorite on-field memory was, he gave a common response, referencing Notre Dame’s double overtime thrilling win over the Clemson Tigers this past fall.

Henige also spoke fondly of Chris Finke’s touchdown against Michigan during Notre Dame’s 24-17 win over the Wolverines to open the 2018 season. Henige called the catch by Finke, the walk-on-turned-scholarship-receiver, a “great, great moment.”

Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics
Irish senior walk-on Jack Henige runs out of the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium with teammates. Henige, playing the trademark position of ‘Tight End U,’ also played basketball while attending the same high school as former Irish Heisman-winner John Lattner.

Henige also values the off-field memories and bonds he built during his time as a walk-on.

“Getting to know everybody and developing such close bonds with all my teammates, I think that’s been really special,” he said.

The former Dillon Hall resident also reflected on the unique challenges of this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Henige acknowledged that it has been extremely challenging, but believes it has helped the team become closer overall and stronger than ever.

“Its hard; I think it’s very difficult mentally, emotionally and even physically,” he said. “A lot is asked of us in the first place, and I think even more is this year, so hopefully we can finish the season strong. We will make everything worth it. Going through the hard stuff makes the long run way more worthwhile, and I think it has helped us become a lot closer as a team.”

Henige has been a part of a class that has had an unprecedented level of success in their four years at Notre Dame, being the first ever to play in the ACC championship, the only cohort to have four straight 10-win seasons and one boasting the second longest home winning streak in school history, among other accolades.

Henige attributes the success to the culture and people they have in the building at Notre Dame.

“We’re very lucky,” he said. “I think we have a good group of guys, and we have a great coaching staff. We are very close. Especially with the COVID stuff going on, it just makes this whole season a lot more special, playing for an ACC championship, something that has never been done in Notre Dame history, and I am really glad to have the opportunity.”

Henige went on to say that everyone is excited for what lies ahead.

“I think everybody is really excited to have the chance to make history as a team and we think we need to finish the job,” he said.

When reflecting on his overall undergraduate experience at Notre Dame, Henige’s experiences while studying abroad stand out in his mind as a valuable part of his college experience. 

“After my sophomore year in 2019, I got to study abroad in South Africa,” he said. “There were five or six of my teammates there, and a couple of my friends from the dorm and I thought that was a really good experience. I was nervous when I came to Notre Dame in that I didn’t think that would be possible to do with my football schedule. It worked out and it was … something I had never had the opportunity to do before. I learned a lot from it and it was a great experience.”

After graduation, Henige plans to move back home to the greater Chicago area and begin working for Piper Sandler, an investment banking firm.

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