Conor Ratigan has been a walk-on at Notre Dame for all four years of his collegiate career. Now, the WOPU President has followed in his father’s footsteps both on and off the field to find himself graduating from Notre Dame.
To join the ranks of the Irish was not his first choice, though.
“I grew up close to Notre Dame and both my parents went to school here,” Ratigan said. “My dad actually played on the team, as well, so I kind of grew up Notre Dame through and through. But I didn’t always want to go here, I wanted to do something different, and then as I grew up and I was able to see what Notre Dame could offer you both on the field and off the field, I thought it was the best decision to make.”
In his career with the Irish, the Granger, Indiana native said he has grown to love the community, especially on the team.
“Notre Dame’s different. Everyone says that and it sounds like a cliche, but it really is,” Ratigan said. “Everyone has a lot more going on. Everyone wants to do something with football and then after football … Everyone is united around the same goal of championship and then graduate. It’s what they said to us coming here and they still say it to us now … [T]he team just seems very close, I mean all the guys, you know, I found my best friends at Notre Dame.”
Ratigan said the community made finding his role on the team even easier. In his first three years, his main role was on the scout team, but with the Irish low on numbers, Ratigan said he started to see reps with the “real team.”
“I felt that I’ve always been someone that will do whatever job is asked of them,” he said. “I had to step up and rep with the real team for almost the whole time and even now, still repping with the real team, doing everything that’s needed of me. I’ve always been someone that’s been a leader on this team, especially for the WOPU guys. As the president of the current WOPU nation, you know someone felt I should have that role. So I’ve tried to help all the new freshmen, whether it’s WOPU or not, get acclimated to Notre Dame. You know, to be someone you could talk to, whether it’s about football or not, and someone the team can also count on on the field.”
The first time Ratigan stepped on the field for the Irish was as a junior in the 2021 season against Georgia Tech. The Irish were ultimately able to win the game 55-0.
“Experiencing that, experiencing the crowd and everything, having my parents there and them experiencing that, it was cool for my dad to see because he did the same thing,” Ratigan said. “So getting on the field for the first time would have to be my favorite football memory.”
Ratigan’s father, Brian Ratigan, also played football at Notre Dame as a walk-on. Now, he is the Director of Orthopaedic Care for Notre Dame Athletics and specifically the head orthopaedic physician for several programs, including football. After growing up surrounded by his dad’s work, Conor Ratigan intends to go to medical school but has yet to start the application process. The former Keough Hall resident said he will soon begin applying to schools for the fall of 2024.
“Obviously, when I first started playing football when I was young, the goal was to play professionally but for me, that wasn’t really in the cards,” he said. “So when Notre Dame offered me a preferred walk-on spot my senior year in high school, I thought that was the best of both worlds. I knew I probably wasn’t going to go to the NFL, but I was going to give it my best shot. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that medical school was what my ultimate goal was always going to be.”
In terms of the rest of the season, Ratigan said he knows what’s expected of him and what he expects of himself.
“I am going to try to help the team in any way I can, and that includes helping them win out in these games and whatever bowl game we’re put in,” he said.