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‘Bigger than any one person’: Graves reflects on Notre Dame career

After walking on to the football team in the spring of 2021, safety Mike Graves has enjoyed every moment of his collegiate career. Like many members of the Notre Dame community, Graves’ favorite memories were the two Clemson wins at home, in 2020 and this season. 

“Just the electric atmosphere, so loud. That was just a really good team win. [The 2020 game was a good game too] because it was so close, so back and forth. And then beating them again here at home in a much more dominant fashion was pretty memorable as well.”

Settling the debate, he did say the 2020 Clemson game was better because the Tigers were number one in the country at the time. 

The entire Notre Dame community’s dedication to the program is not lost on Graves who has learned a lot about what this program, and university, means to so many people over the past few years. He recognizes that any team sport will teach a player selflessness and perseverance, but this team really embodies those qualities. 

“What I’ve learned the most about not just playing here and being a part of the program, but at Notre Dame as a whole, is that Notre Dame is bigger than any one person. Being on a team, it’s a collective effort to accomplish a goal, and everyone bonds together to accomplish that goal. But I think that it’s pretty unique at Notre Dame because the brand stands for [so much more].”

The Notre Dame coaches have also played a big role in his development, and Graves is incredibly grateful for their confidence in him.  

“Starting off with my position coach, Coach O’Leary, he always believed in me, from day one, and is always pushing me to be my best. [Coach Freeman] knows and loves everyone and has a belief in everyone. And that’s motivating. You want to play for a guy like that. That inspires me to work hard every day and just do what I can for the team. I’m not a starter, but knowing the role that I have, and do it the very best I can.”

One of Graves’ roles that he thinks is most important is working with the younger guys on the team. 

“I don’t see myself as an older guy above them, but I just try to help them with their transition to college as a whole. And not just how to go about themselves on the field or in practice, but also helping them with any questions they may have about navigating college. I also make sure to have a really positive attitude all the time and a really infectious energy to inspire them to play harder and play to their potential.”

After completing his Master’s of Finance, Graves will look to get into the financial services industry, specifically investment banking.