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Sports

The insider’s guide to sports on campus

| Friday, August 20, 2021

Dear Class of 2025,

Life has been turned upside down and right side up again just in time for your freshman year of college, only at the last second to be shaken (not stirred) into another mess just as we arrive on campus.

Nevertheless, you did it. You made it to campus, which has become a feat we can be grateful for in and of itself! So, on behalf of The Observer’s sports department (as its current Editor), welcome to the University of Notre Dame!

If you’re reading this column in the middle of Welcome Weekend, you’re probably in one of a few groups: 1) You are interested in joining our lovely on-campus student newspaper, or at least learning more about it (which you definitely should, it’s great). 2) You are a diehard Irish sports fan and I misled you because this is in the Sports section (don’t worry I’m getting to how this relates I promise). Or 3) You’re not a freshman at all, you’ve been here before and you’re just back to support us (Hello! It’s nice to be back, and thank YOU for being back!).

If you aren’t in one of those three groups and you’re just here to say hello, not quite sure how you got here, hello to you too! Welcome to The Observer.

Regardless of your reason for being here, (meaning right now, reading this column. Not on earth in general), we are glad to have you, and I would like to take this opportunity to give you a few inside tips on how to navigate sports on campus, especially after we’ve all had a little time off. So, if you’re new, here’s your cheat sheet, and for anyone returning, a quick reminder to get you settled back in.

 Go see every sport that you can.

If there was one thing I missed last fall, it was going to sporting events. In my first year, a large portion of the incoming class went to multiple soccer games in Alumni Stadium, both men’s and women’s. The stands were filled with students, all chanting and cheering. We were led by the leprechauns bouncing across the front aisle, guiding us through every chant. There were volleyball games, basketball games, hockey games and, of course, football games. We made the most of it and established a strong fan section at each.

Then last year came to a screeching halt, as I am sure you felt at each of your high schools. We couldn’t go to many things, and we—both as athletes and supporters—missed out on the normal seasons. In the stands, we had to adjust, cheer with masks on and still make enough noise with 11,000 of us in Notre Dame Stadium, rather than 77,000, to upset Clemson in overtime.

Now that games are open, go to them. Take your friends, dress up in your best Irish green and make an afternoon or evening out of it. You won’t regret it.

Find your way to at least one football game.  

There is nothing like standing in that stadium with Cathy Richardson belting “Here Come the Irish” and then immediately cutting to “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys with the entire crowd screaming and dancing as the Irish come sprinting out of the tunnel.

That is not to say you have to buy season tickets or even should if you’re not 100% sold on the idea of football; but it is such an experience. Borrow a friend’s ticket on a week they’re not going or try and buy one for an individual game. Even if football really isn’t your thing, I would suggest making time for the experience. You don’t even have to look at the field at all if you don’t want to. There is so much going on, you’re going to want to go again just so you can capture it all.

Plus, you can work on your balancing skills standing on the bleachers with all your friends. Or gain a little strength hoisting someone into the air for touchdown pushups. Whether the final score is 28-3 or 47-40, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.

Join a club team.

There are so many different clubs to choose from, a subsection of those clubs being club sports. Hit the activities fair and just go see what you can do. There’s a running club as well as club swim, club golf and club water polo. The list goes on.

If you did it in high school and you want to continue it, go for it. If you are looking to try something new, that’s great too. Learn it and prove yourself at it when the club competes with other club teams in the area.

Play for your interhall teams!

If you’re looking for a more relaxed yet still competitive environment, watch out for interhall sports emails from your dorm athletic commissioners! This is a great way to get active, continue a sport that you love or just go out and have a good time. Use this opportunity to have a little competition with new friends in other dorms as well.

Each dorm has a team for every sport, and you can play on multiple teams. Try a sport you’ve never played before (at least not outside of gym class) or one you’ve never heard of, like broomball.

It is a great way to become part of your hall community. Plus, there’s a trophy at the end if you win. Who doesn’t love a good trophy?

Take advantage of all the open space.

South Quad is the longest individual quad in the country. There is also North Quad, McGlinn fields, the grassy knolls of Mod Quad, Far Quad (yes like Shrek) out by Carroll, and at least four sand volleyball courts (there may be more, but I’ve only counted four). Get out there and have some fun of your own.

And what if you want to be involved in some way at all of these different levels?

What if you want to keep track of varsity sports and club sports and keep yourself informed of the goings-on at the interhall level? How could you do all of these at once? Would you have enough time? Where is there an outlet that can help you access all three?

Ah-hem, yes hello again, that would be where I come in…

Come write for us! (Yes, I know, shameless plug, but seriously) The Observer puts you right in the thick of it with everything from interviews and game attendance to writing up the wraps and analyses of different sports.

There are so many different ways to get involved on this campus, especially where sports are concerned. And boy, do we all need renewed access to our favorite outlets, now more than ever. So get settled, finish the rest of the newspaper, and then look into how you can access all the sports you’re hoping for during your time on campus so you won’t miss a beat.

About Mannion McGinley

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