NDPD announces use of bodycams, new ND Safe app

The Notre Dame Police Department (NDPD) announced this month that its sworn officers are now wearing body cameras. The department also released the ND Safe app with multiple resources, including one-touch calls to Notre Dame police, St. Joseph County’s 911 center and non-emergency assistance, as well as resources to share location with NDPD or one’s friends.

NDPD chief Keri Kei Shibata says that the decision to start using body cameras has been a long time coming. “We had been thinking about it for a number of years. In fact, we had officers who had been wanting to wear body cameras previous to [the decision],” Shibata said.

Shibata said that the department had held off due to existing safety technology that NDPD already employed.

“We have a number of CCTV cameras on campus, so usually when there’s something that happens, and there’s a question about whether something happened a certain way or not, we can investigate that way. But there’s no audio there. The officers have had in-car cameras with body mics for a very long time,” she said.

They ultimately decided to purchase the technology — developed by Axon Enterprise, a firm that develops technology for law enforcement, the military and general public — for a number of reasons.

“They’re becoming more standard for police agencies. We know that the federal agencies are soon going to be required to wear them. And so it’s just becoming a best practice in law enforcement,” Shibata said.

Shibata also referred to national conversations around police reform. NDPD has engaged in that conversation following the death of George Floyd, releasing an extensive “Equity in Policing” report that outlines a commitment to solidarity and details training and policies for officers. 

“We know that at times law enforcement in the United States has played a role in dehumanization, oppression and the infringement of the basic civil and human rights of people in our country. Instances of police brutality are tragic reminders of the systemic racism that exists in the United States,” the statement reads. “We recognize that NDPD is part of the larger criminal justice system that needs to improve in many ways.”

“These truths are uncomfortable, they stain our history and tarnish the reputation of good people doing good work. But, they are truths that are nonetheless acknowledged by the Notre Dame Police Department.”

Shibata said the bodycams “allow us to be more transparent and accountable. It helps us to quickly investigate any complaints. It helps collect evidence in cases if that’s needed. It can also help with training, so officers can review their interactions and supervisors can review with officers and say, ‘How could we have handled this a little bit differently?’ And then if there are disputes about what happened, it can clarify that.”

She said that current policy dictates officers must turn on their body cams any time they are on a call for service or law enforcement interaction, from someone locking their keys in an office to a more serious threat.

“The spirit of the policy that will always be the case is any kind of law enforcement and action will be recorded,” she said. 

Officers must tell citizens who ask if they’re being recorded that they are, and they can turn off the cameras if they are requested or for privacy reasons, such as offering care to a person potentially in a state of undress. They would document the cause in any case this occurred. In case the situation escalates, they would turn the camera back on.

NDPD exists because of a state law allowing colleges to appoint a police force. Notre Dame’s board decided to do so, giving NDPD jurisdiction throughout St. Joseph County, but primarily on campus, Shibata said.

“In an active violence or other serious public safety emergency NDPD officers know the campus inside and out and can get there quickly and take the right action or give the right instruction to the community and other responding agencies,” she wrote in an email. “In addition, in everyday situations we know the campus resources available to students, faculty, and staff so we often have the ability to connect them with those resources rather than taking law enforcement action if appropriate where other police agencies wouldn’t know the resources in that detail or the people to connect them with.”

With the release of the ND Safe application, the work to ensure safety on campus continues. 

“We’re very excited about [the app],” Shibata said. “We had been thinking about a safety app for quite a while. Student government had asked if that was something that we could do, and it was another thing that just fell together and it seemed like the right time to do it.”

Within the app, users can activate features like the Virtual Walkhome feature, which allows a police dispatcher to monitor their walk to or from a residence hall or other location on or off campus. 

ND Safe has other features including FriendWalk, essentially a safety escort service without a person, designed to share a user’s location with friends or family. There’s also Mobile Blue Light, which shares the user’s location with NDPD. The app also has a feature called Social Escape, a self-scheduled call to the user’s mobile phone as a means to leave an uncomfortable or potentially threatening situation.

“It’s a great resource. I like it that people can choose either to have our staff involved or not, depending on what they feel they need. And then most of the options also enable people to really quickly contact 911 or our police department depending on where they are,” Shibata said.


Notre Dame Stadium transitions to cashless payment options

Notre Dame Stadium is in its second year of going cashless, and its effects have prompted the entire campus to switch to accepting cards only. While this is Notre Dame campus’s first year going cashless, this is Notre Dame Stadium’s second year operating as such. All athletic facilities went cashless last year as well. 

The move was promptly made after the Coronavirus pandemic, to limit the movement of physical cash.  

Another reason involved security implications regarding cashiers’ handling of money. “We had a lot of people in our food area sitting there counting money.” Wendy Mott, Cash Manager for the University in the Office of Treasury Services, said. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars go through in cash, and they were spending their whole time counting it. Sometimes we would have up to three people count the same deposit.” 

This process also caused problems due to a shortage of employees. “Right now we have a lot of difficulty in hiring people, as everybody does, and especially in those food service areas,” Mott said.

 “Instead of counting cash, [employees] are able to be deployed to do other important things in the job as necessary, as [the University has] difficulty hiring her people.”

With a cashless process comes many benefits for the audience. These include saving time for the audience by ensuring faster lines when receiving food. “They don’t have to wait as long,” Mott said. “I think it’s a time saver.” This process was implemented in 2018 by GrubHub, where the client can order food and be in line without his physical presence in attendance. 

While she gave praise to its benefits, she also acknowledged the difficulties many international students face due to a lack of resources when coming to the United States. They usually come without a bank account, she said, but instead with physical cash. Thus, the treasury department worked to place handheld devices which trade physical currency to a card. 

“Something we did different this year,” Mott said, “was that we rolled out kiosks, Campus card kiosks, that are located one in Duncan and one in LaFortune.” In addition, students can use their Domer Dollars from their Irish1card, which can be used in stadium venues. “Hopefully,” Mott said, “80 plus percent of the students shouldn’t even be impacted by going cashless.”  

For the football game vs. Stanford on Oct. 15th, Levy, a third party concession stand vendor, will roll out a new credit card system, which will make transactions faster. As Lee Sicinski, Associate Vice President of University Events, said via email, “We will be replacing our point of sale system with a product from Shift4. Moving to this new system should modernize the purchasing experience, allow for faster transactions, and provide a wider variety of cashless payment methods (tap-&-go, Apple Pay, Android Pay, etc). We expect this technology to ultimately enhance the experience for all fans, and get them back to their seat faster.”


Provost John McGreevy discusses role, book on history of Catholicism

John T. McGreevy began his work as the sixth provost for the University of Notre Dame at the beginning of July.

McGreevy, a history professor who has served on the faculty since 1997 and previously served as chair of the history department and the dean of College of Arts and Letters, was announced as the Charles and Jill Fischer provost in April, four months after Marie Lynn Miranda stepped down from the position. Miranda’s year and a half as provost was largely defined by the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Identified by a search committee of faculty, students and university president Fr. John Jenkins, McGreevy is cognizant of the fact that many do not understand the job he’s been appointed to.

“No one knows what the provost does,” McGreevy said. “The formal title is chief academic officer… and you’re supposed to guide the academic core; everything from hiring to how do we elevate the reputation of our departments? How do we do cross-college programs? How do we do better with undergraduate education? How do we develop stronger graduate and professional school programs, all that in a general way falls to the provost.”

Notre Dame established the provost position in 1970 under Fr. Hesburgh’s leadership, and the provost is tasked with the overall operation of the academic enterprise, including the faculty, colleges, schools, institutes, centers, libraries and student advising.

McGreevy said that his position allows him to direct Notre Dame’s academic work across programs and colleges, from a twenty-thousand-foot level.

“I won’t get involved in individual ‘we should offer this course this semester’ kind of decisions,” he said. Rather, his role has a larger role in faculty promotion and tenure, developing and strengthening programs and institutionally promoting Notre Dame’s commitment to “really excellent teaching.”

McGreevy said that he is still developing his priorities as provost but he is guided by two overarching goals.

First is a common plan for the academic core, forged from various plans for each of the programs and schools under Notre Dame’s umbrella. He said the goal is to “make Notre Dame better in terms of teaching and learning, in terms of its research programs, all those things.”

Second, McGreevy said he is focused on building strong teams among the leaders that report to him. 

“We have a really great group of deans, great group of provosts, and just to get them really working together and helping me, because I need the help. I can’t do it on my own. And there’s so much wisdom in those rooms,” he said.

McGreevy says that challenges he’s identified moving forward include that the University is “a little bit behind on strategic plans.”

More broadly, McGreevy sees a larger tension at the core of Notre Dame’s path forward, a vision that he says is shared by Fr. Jenkins, and has served as the administration’s project since the 1960s.

“The big challenge for Notre Dame is can it be seriously Catholic and be great,” McGreevy said. “Can we be one of the best private research universities in the world with just absolutely terrific programs at all levels? And can we be distinctly and seriously Catholic? And that’s the big picture mission.”

He says that question comes to the forefront when establishing Notre Dame’s credibility in research, as well as deciding which programs to invest in.

“So we started, a few years ago, a master’s in sacred music and then a doctorate in sacred music, and we’re really good at that. And that’s an example of a program that aligns with our mission, but we become really good at,” he said. “We need more things that everyone unequivocally says ‘okay, yeah, that’s a great program.’”

McGreevy also published a book this month — “Catholicism: A Global History from the French Revolution to Pope Francis” is a 528-page volume out with W.W. Norton. A review in The New York Times says that McGreevy has done “a remarkable job of explaining how the epic struggle between reformists and traditionalists has led us to the present moment in the Roman Catholic Church.”

McGreevy has long studied Catholicism and has published three previous books on various elements of the church’s history. This book drew less from primary research, and was written primarily during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really based on trying to distill the secondary literature into a readable format and tell the big picture story. So not much research, but a lot of time spent on the 10th and 11th and 12th floor of the library sitting there looking at things and with my laptop writing,” he said.

McGreevy says the book is an attempt to explore the global dimensions of the church, “recognizing that Catholicism is the most multicultural and multilingual institution in the world. And we need histories that reflect that diversity.”

Since the near-death experience of the French Revolution, the church has evolved and changed in many ways over the past 230 years, according to McGreevy.

“We tend to think especially the church is sort of unchanging. And one thing I want to convey in the book is that a lot of things did change, not everything,” McGreevy said. 

Beginning with the French Revolution, McGreevy explained that the event was transformative for the institution.

“What I really want to convey to people is how devastating the French Revolution was for an older, more aristocratic Catholic model, where the nation state and the church were very tightly allied,” he said. “That didn’t go away. But what came in the 19th century was a much more populist, devotional Catholicism, maybe even more a church of the poor. And a church very tightly tied to the papacy.”

The dramatic shift of the French Revolution is followed in history by another dramatic shift, Vatican II, McGreevy said.

“That form of the church, I argue, really lasts until the 1960s in the Second Vatican Council and we’re still trying to sort out what era we’re in now,” he said. “[Pope] Francis says that we’re in a change of era, not an era of change. It seems throughout politics, culture, religion, that some things are fundamentally changing right now. And I hope the book provides a savvy history so Catholics and non-Catholics can better understand how we got to where we are.” 

As a historian focused on Catholicism for much of his career, McGreevy says that work shapes his approach as provost. 

“There’s a parallel that I think about a lot, that if we’re going to be a Catholic university, we are going to become more diverse at Notre Dame. That means diverse in American categories… but also diverse in international students too. And that will be the only way we sustain ourselves as a Catholic university,” he said.

He added that the day-to-day work of a history professor has also prepared him well. 

“Being a historian is good training, you read a lot, and you read a lot as provost. And you do think about change over time and how institutions change. And I find myself thinking about that all the time: how Notre Dame should change,” McGreevy said.


SOTERIA Flooring startup wants to make falling safer

A Notre Dame graduate entrepreneurship program alumna is working towards longer, safer lives for people with a fall risk — not with grasp bars or fall buttons, but with a patented flooring system designed to “restore the right to fall.”

Julie Moylan, CEO of SOTERIA Flooring and ESTEEM program graduate, arriving on campus summer 2021 with an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Galway. Moylan made it her business to dive straight into the entrepreneurial scene, having never pursued anything like it before.

She was paired with a flooring startup previously founded by Tim Ovaert, a professor in Notre Dame’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department. Moylan helped reshape the “nearly completely stopped and dissolved” company. Today, SOTERIA is still in the pre-seed round of funding, raising $20,000 dollars so far.

The twice-patented flooring product was commissioned by the CDC for research purposes but was soon turned into a purchasable product that reduces the occurrence of injury from falling.

“It can be installed under your carpet or linoleum, anything that has a bit of give, in nursing homes or care facilities, assisted and independent living,” Moylan said.

Moylan said 25% of those who fall [that are] over the age of 65 are dead within six months of the injury, and the problem only gets worse with age.

“People are actually dying because of it and nothing has been done,” she said.  

During the 35-month period before installing their flooring in a facility in Ohio, 21 fractures were recorded. Once SOTERIA flooring was installed, Moylan said there was a 100% reduction in fractures, 100% reduction in overnight stays and a near complete reduction in ER visits.

“People with dementia and Alzheimer’s forget they can’t walk anymore and are incredibly prone to falling. The only alternative to them getting up or falling down was to strap them to the bed, which is completely inhumane, so giving them back the right to fall is a huge part of our mission.”

SOTERIA currently has two major installations in Ohio and has no plan to slow down. The company is currently talking with a care facility in Kentucky and the Logan Center in South Bend. 

Moylan is utilizing the traction the company is gaining to expand into the construction industry,.

“It’s tough to be a new player in that market, so I need a global flooring or commercial flooring provider to sell directly to the customer,” Moylan said.

A partnership like this has the potential to ramp up adoption of the flooring.

“They will have the resources to offset some costs and include us as part of their portfolio, so for me it’s about being selective about a partner that will accelerate our route to scaling in the market,” Moylan said. “We are in discussions with all those people, especially their research, design and innovation arms, so they let us know what they need to see from us, and now it’s just up to us to get there.” 

Moylan’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is to trust their gut instincts.

“You will have people to advise and guide you, but when you’re in it and something doesn’t feel good, don’t go against your internal instincts,” she said. “I can’t even describe how much you will be pulled in all sorts of directions, so just listen to yourself, trust yourself and trust your product.”


Irish keys to victory versus North Carolina

After earning their first victory of the year, Notre Dame heads to North Carolina, eyeing a return to a .500 record. They face a tall task, entering the game as slight underdogs to the unbeaten Tar Heels. The story of this game is two programs with completely opposite strengths. Notre Dame ranks 115th out of 131 in scoring offense, but their defense has been solid, allowing seven total touchdowns in three games. That included a battle with the vaunted Ohio State offense. UNC is averaging over 51 points a game, but they’re giving up over 37 per contest. They haven’t faced a Power-5 program yet, so the offense will face their most difficult test of the young 2022 season. Notre Dame’s offense is certainly struggling, but UNC’s defense is truly an eyesore through three weeks. To truly measure the stark difference: the Irish offense has scored seven touchdowns this season…the UNC defense gave up six touchdowns in the fourth quarter of their season opener. So there is a path to victory for Notre Dame, but what are the keys to obtaining the slight upset win? 

Key 1: Minimize Drake Maye as a runner

Drake Maye is going to be solid. He’s a really strong quarterback and will make some plays. But Notre Dame let Cal stick around last week via Jack Plummer escaping a collapsed pocket and ripping off a bevy of first-down runs. Against a far better runner, that cannot happen with the Tar Heels. 

This responsibility largely falls to the Irish linebackers, who struggled against the Golden Bears. They need a quarterback spy on Maye to make him uncomfortable outside the pocket. This will be difficult without senior captain J.D. Bertrand playing the first half (the tail-end of his targeting punishment from last week), but the Irish have the depth to fill his role for 30 minutes. Additionally, the Irish defensive line must finish their job. While they terrorized Plummer with six sacks and 27 quarterback pressures last week, Notre Dame whiffed on several sacks, allowing the Cal signal-caller to escape. That can’t happen this week. 

Key 2: Beat the UNC secondary at the line of scrimmage

This is huge for Notre Dame, and it corresponds to a general strength for the Irish. UNC generally features a heavy dose of press coverage, and that makes beating your man at the line of scrimmage absolutely pivotal. The Irish have a tight end in junior Michael Mayer who can beat anyone at the line of scrimmage. Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles showed against Marshall and at times against Cal, he can beat his defender off the line and get open quickly. 

If they can win quickly against the cornerbacks, the Irish may be able to open up the vertical component of their offense that has been so sorely lacking. This is a big test for these Irish receivers. They have struggled so far this year, and their offense has moved lethargically at times. This is a unit they can expose, and if they can’t, it speaks to far bigger issues for this Irish offense moving into the middle third of the season. 

Key 3: Contain Josh Downs

The key word here is ‘contain’. Notre Dame, in all likelihood, will not stop UNC’s dynamic receiver. Injuries have limited Downs to one game this year. But he was a difference-maker in that contest, notching nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. The Irish would likely be ok with more yards from Downs but less scoring impact. Last year, Downs caught 10 passes for 142 yards against Notre Dame; but he didn’t score. For Notre Dame, that’s successful containment. They made the Tar Heels find secondary methods of scoring, and that’ll be key again on Saturday. 

Ultimately, this is going to be a major test for the Irish. The defense faces a loaded offensive unit. On offense, Notre Dame was at full panic mode through the first half of the Cal game. After scoring 17 points in a three-drive span in the second half against a solid Cal defense, that panic subsided a little bit. Now, against a weaker defensive unit, the goal should be 30+ for the Irish, a number they’ll likely need to hit in order to win this road battle, and for head coach Marcus Freeman to snag win No. 2 of his career.


Observer Staff predicts Notre Dame-UNC

After picking up his first career win as head coach in Week 3, can Marcus Freeman make it two straight this weekend in North Carolina? The Observer staff is split on the pick.

Sports Editor Aidan Thomas

I’ve tossed and turned about this pick all week. Not literally, but I truly have no idea what to expect. To put it slightly dramatically, the very moveable object (UNC’s defense) meets a nearly non-startable force (Notre Dame’s offense) in this matchup.

Here’s what makes the difference for me. Going back to the opener, Notre Dame shut down a vaunted Ohio State attack. They’ve given up 21, 19 and 17 points in three weeks. More notably, nobody has really beaten the Irish through the air, which is where UNC wants to operate. Their ground game is efficient, but it’s not their bread and butter. The biggest thing for the Irish is containing Drake Maye, who is a solid dual-threat quarterback. Notre Dame linebacker must be better, but that unit is operating without senior linebacker J.D. Bertrand for the first half which makes this task even more difficult. I think Notre Dame trails at the half — again — but starts figuring out how to target the Tar Heels in the second half. They’ll pull off the mild upset over the Tar Heels. 

Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 27

Senior sports writer Nate Moller

The Irish defense will have to be on top of their game this weekend against a balanced UNC offense that has thrown for 930 yards through the air and 712 yards on the ground. The Tar Heels have plenty of options through the air, as they have six players with over 100 receiving yards this season. The Irish, by comparison, have just two players with over 100 receiving yards this season. The Irish have still yet to force a turnover this season, and winning that battle this weekend might be a key to victory. Despite UNC’s subpar defense, the Irish offense will have a difficult time keeping up with UNC quarterback Drake Maye’s offensive production. Unless junior quarterback Drew Pyne can up his level of play this weekend significantly, a loss to a highly productive UNC offense seems inevitable.

North Carolina 38, Notre Dame 27

Associate Sports Editor Liam Coolican

If there’s an opportunity for Pyne and the Notre Dame offense to get rolling, it’s this weekend in Chapel Hill. Only one power-five team (Colorado) ranks lower than UNC in terms of scoring defense. The Tar Heels are allowing opponents to score nearly 38 points per game. Conversely, they are 6th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging more than 51 points per game. It’s a testament to the strength of this offense that the Tar Heels are 3-0. The Irish will have to work hard to slow down Maye and his impressive cadre of receivers. 

A lot of this game will depend on the Notre Dame defense, because no matter how ineffective the UNC defense is, I am not willing (yet) to put my faith in Pyne in a shootout. One major concern is the inconsistency of Al Golden’s unit. They’ve played well this year, but have had stretches of poor play. In order to win this contest, they’ll have to be at their best for all four quarters, and that’s not something I’ve seen from them so far this year.

North Carolina 31, Notre Dame 28

Assistant Managing Editor Mannion McGinley

So Irish fans saw two almost takeaways this weekend against Cal. That was good. That was new this season. Did they end up counting? No, but we found other defensive success on both plays. Should that mean an interception or a strip is on the way? One would hope. Will I predict that the Irish get one this weekend? No. No, I will not. The last time I did that, the Irish lost (despite my predicting a 35-point win).

Do the Irish need to force a turnover to win this weekend? Yes, that much is clear. Pyne will be able to lead the offense just well enough to beat the UNC defense and keep pace with the UNC offense in terms of productive drives. Until he proves he can do more, he has proven that we can expect at least that much from him, and I believe in it.

It’s the defense that ends up controlling this game though. The defensive line especially needs to be able to get to Maye the way they’ve gotten to Plummer. I expect to see both Ademilola brothers bursting through that line, and I want to see the 2021 version of senior defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey right beside them. The new guys are still getting caught up, but even they are holding their own. The returners need to show them how it’s done to push Notre Dame over the top this weekend. There needs to be an even cleaner fourth-quarter stop in this game than the bouncing Hail Mary from the Cal game. Another tight one for sure.

Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 28

Associate Sports Editor Madeline Ladd

After a nail-biter of a win last week against Cal, the Irish need to capture a solid victory against the Tar Heels this weekend. Though they infamously struggle to run the ball, Notre Dame’s passing game was more accurate last week with Pyne. He grew more comfortable in the second half and has the ability to connect with receivers. There’s too much talent up front for the offense not to be better. Tyree and Estime will certainly be able to pound the awful UNC defense, as they are ranked 123rd in the nation.

Nevertheless, Tar Heel freshman quarterback Drake Maye has the potential to challenge the secondary and will most likely connect with returning wide out star Josh Downs. This will prove a fight, but finally the ND defense will get turnovers and hold off their opponent. Turnovers are the name of the game here, and if the Irish can do that they can continue their 10+ year win streak against the Tar Heels. I see it happening.

Notre Dame 37, North Carolina 28

Emily DeFazio, Associate Sports Editor

This is the make-or-break game for the 2022 Irish season. Notre Dame won the Cal game, but that does not mean it is smooth sailing the rest of the way. In the final five minutes, there were at least three instances where that game was nearly tied. And one of those moments came on the final play of the game. Pyne needs to have gotten his sea legs and move forward with a solid foundation and settle into his role as QB1. The Irish cannot afford turnovers and over-throwing receivers in Chapel Hill. The Irish defense will need to remain on-point this week to allow the offense some growing pains. But I expect a fourth-quarter solidifying of a narrow Irish win.

Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 27

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

Coolican: Find joy in this season

The mood in the locker room after Notre Dame’s victory over Cal last weekend was jubilant. It was Marcus Freeman’s first career win as a head coach, and it was the first win of the season for the players and coaches who worked so hard in the offseason for this moment. 

Compare that to the mood of Irish fans as the game came to an end. Rather than joy, it was more a collective sigh of relief that was heard across South Bend as Cal’s last-second Hail Mary attempt finally fell harmlessly to the ground. Everyone in the stands seemed relieved that Notre Dame didn’t lose, rather than feeling happy that they won.

It is a challenge to find hope and joy in what some consider to be a lost season after just three weeks. This season hasn’t gone exactly to plan; dropping from fifth in the nation to unranked in the span of two weeks hurts, and it hurts badly. 

Perhaps this is because of how high the expectations were for Notre Dame prior to the season. Despite losing their starting quarterback, a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher, and one of the best defensive players in college football, Notre Dame was ranked fifth in the country before even playing a down. Not only that, but the expectations the fans had for Marcus Freeman were astronomical. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a first-year head coach.

Irish fans everywhere, including myself, bought into this undeserved hype. And now, it seems, we are paying the price. Losses hurt the most when expectations are highest. Conversely, there is very little joy in winning the games your team expects to win.

In all honesty, expectations for a first-year head coach shouldn’t have been this high. Yes, this is Notre Dame football. And like it or not, there will always be an extremely high level of scrutiny. It is undoubtedly part of the job description. However, it seemed that the expectations placed on Freeman were higher before this season than they ever were in 12 seasons under Brian Kelly.

This may have been because of the immense success Freeman had in recruiting over the offseason. Or the fact that his players clearly love playing for him. Maybe even the lingering resentment over Kelly’s abrupt departure. Whatever the reason, the fanbase’s expectations of Freeman set them up for disappointment this year.

Still, we all owe it to ourselves to find joy in this season. This isn’t one of those “your team is terrible, here’s how to enjoy watching them anyway,” columns. Notre Dame is still a very good team that could challenge for another New Year’s Six Bowl this year. Despite the slow start, the season is far from over.

It is all too easy to fall into negativity when junior quarterback Drew Pyne throws the ball at the feet of a wide-open target. Or when the secondary allows a receiver to run free. Notre Dame fans aren’t used to seeing these kinds of mistakes. Fans have grown used to the Irish beating teams they are expected to beat, and often falling flat in the rare instances when they are the underdog. This year has changed that narrative completely. North Carolina, an unranked opponent, is currently a 1.5-point favorite ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

If the Irish manage to beat the Tar Heels this weekend on the road, celebrate like it’s the upset victory that it is. Not merely another win against a team they should beat. Winning a game on the road against a quality opponent would be a big step for Freeman and the team. And it should be treated as such.

For all of Notre Dame’s struggles this year, they are still a good team with talented players. Enjoy watching junior running back Chris Tyree break tackles in the open field. And junior tight end Michael Mayer bowling over defenders as he makes another first-down catch. And senior defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey’s third-down sacks.

But most of all, enjoy the wins. Here’s my advice for this weekend’s game against UNC, which is expected to be a close one. As are most of the seasons of the ones in Notre Dame’s season. Don’t sit on pins and needles waiting for disaster to strike. Instead, wait for the team to make a big play, and celebrate.

If fans are too busy waiting for failure, we may miss celebrating the unexpectedly great moments.


Holy Cross College celebrates Founder’s Day

This Monday marked 56 years since Holy Cross College’s establishment. The College was founded on Sept. 19, 1966 by Holy Cross Brothers whose mission is to be “educators in the faith” to men and women everywhere — especially the poor, afflicted and oppressed.

Michael Griffin, senior vice president and interim provost of Holy Cross College, said that the College was originally founded to train Holy Cross brothers to teach at the high school level.

“At that time, Catholic brothers were really expanding their ministry to teaching,” Griffin said. “If you look around the country at some of the best Catholic high schools, many of them were begun by brothers in the 50s and the 60s.”

Previously, brothers would pursue degrees at institutions like Notre Dame or St. Edward’s University in Texas. Holy Cross was the first of its kind, Griffin said.

“Holy Cross College really provided a foundation where the brothers could live and study together,” he explained. 

In 1968, the College became coeducational just two years after its founding because the brothers saw a chance to expand their mission, Griffin explained.

“The brothers saw that it was not only them who could benefit from the education. So very quickly, before many other colleges, including Notre Dame [that became coeducational in 1972], the brothers decided to open up Holy Cross to women and men to join,” Griffin said. 

When it was founded, Holy Cross College initially offered two-year programs, but over the years, it expanded to become a four-year college. 

Students marked Founder’s Day by wearing their maroon and silver Holy Cross gear to show off their school spirit. The College distributed Holy Cross themed cookies and had food trucks out on the courtyard.

Holy Cross students lined up at food trucks on the quad outside of dorms to celebrate the College’s 56th annual Founder’s Day. / Courtesy of Sara Cole

Sophomore Sara Cole said she thought Founder’s Day was a great way to build Holy Cross camaraderie.

“It’s just a great way for students to hang out and be in community,” Cole said.  

Cole said that she was drawn to Holy Cross because she wanted to pursue the elementary education major that they offer. The program has allowed her to sit in on student teaching sessions since her first year.

“Other schools [with comparable programs] generally only allow students to start practical experience with teaching their senior year,” Cole said. 

Coming from a small high school, Cole said she also appreciated having a small college community where she knows the majority of students. 

Student body president of the College, sophomore Dion Payne-Miller also praised Holy Cross’ tight-knit community.

“I love that the community is so small that you pretty much know everybody from students all the way up to professors, and even administration for that matter,” he said.

Payne-Miller hopes to see more partnerships between Holy Cross, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“Besides clubs … we can work together for our overall community of South Bend and Mishawaka,” Payne-Miller explained. 

Griffin said that Founder’s Day at Holy Cross really highlights the uniqueness of the tri-campus community.

“The Holy Cross, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s tri-campus … really is one of the only places in the world where you have three colleges founded by each of the three parts of Catholic religious life — priests, sisters and brothers. I often say that 46556 is the most unique zip code in Catholic higher education.”

Contact Angela at


Notre Dame beats Cal, Marcus Freeman gets first win as head coach

On that final drive, it seemed like the first win of the Freeman era might never come. Two turnovers were brought back after further review, giving the California Golden Bears one final chance to tie the game and force an overtime. 

“There was a conversation between me and God,” said head coach Marcus Freeman about that final drive. “There was some, ‘Lord, what is going on?’”

But there was no time for prayer. In that moment, it meant the defense would need to step up one final time — and that they did. A broken-up Hail Mary attempt sealed the 24-17 win, as Notre Dame football finally got off the starting blocks in 2022.

It was a huge moment for a defense that had been problematic late in games this year. Against both Ohio State and Marshall, late 90+ yard touchdowns sealed the Irish’s fate. On Saturday, the defense finished the game the way their coaches had been preaching all week.

It was a happy ending to what was ultimately an inconsistent game for Notre Dame in terms of execution. Early on, it seemed like more of the same anemic offense as the first two games. The Irish had four three-and-out possessions to open the game and totaled 28 yards and just one yard on the ground. Regardless, the defense played well. And Cal kicker Dario Longhetto’s 45-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright, meaning the game was still a scoreless tie at the end of the first quarter.

After that missed field goal, Notre Dame got the ball back, but after graduate student wide receiver Braden Lenzy picked up 8 yards on a pass while in motion, disaster struck. Junior quarterback Drew Pyne lined up under center but couldn’t get a handle on senior center Zeke Correll’s snap, and Cal’s Oluwafemi Oladejo beat Pyne to the loose ball to flip the field for the Golden Bears.

Freeman had some words for his quarterback following the fumble.

“I told Drew, ‘Relax, man, go out and be Drew Pyne and execute,’” said Freeman.

After the Irish turnover, Jack Plummer and the Golden Bears were set up in prime field position just outside the red zone, and they did not waste it. Plummer connected twice with freshman receiver J. Michael Sturdivant to make it count. 

First, Sturdivant laid out for a 15-yard catch on third and 10 to keep the drive alive. Then, on the next play, Plummer faked the handoff and rolled right. There, he looked up field and saw a wide-open Sturdivant running to the corner of the end zone. Plummer’s pass was on the money to put the Golden Bears on the board with an 18-yard touchdown. Sturdivant also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the celebration, which backed up Cal’s kickoff 15 yards.

That mistake from Sturdivant opened the door for Notre Dame’s special teams unit to make an impact as they did all game. Coming in, the special teams unit was one of the few bright spots from Notre Dame’s first two games, and they kept it up on Saturday. On returns, junior running back Chris Tyree and junior safety Brandon Joseph consistently picked up yards, while graduate student punter Jon Sot averaged 45.6 yards over seven punts and graduate student kicker Blake Grupe was perfect on his field goal and extra point attempts.

On this occasion, Tyree received the ball on the backed-up kickoff, returning it 16 yards to set up the Irish at their own 40-yard line. From there, he took over the drive. He handled the ball six times from there with four carries and two catches, including the 21-yard touchdown grab after beating the linebacker coming out of the backfield.

Granted, Notre Dame was a little fortunate on that scoring drive, with an offside penalty bailing out Grupe. The kicker had missed a 45-yard field goal attempt after the drive stalled following a failed third-down conversion. Still, the penalty gave the offense new life and they capitalized on Cal’s mistake to even the score at 7-7.

Tyree was happy to get increased touches, but said his focus was getting the win.

“Whether I get the ball or not, I’m always going to be happy with the win, but it happened to go that way today. I got a lot of touches and the opportunity to show my skills out on the field. I’m blessed to have that opportunity and I try my best to take advantage of it every time,” said Tyree.

On the following drive, Cal found its offensive rhythm putting together a 10-play, 69-yard drive deep into Irish territory. On third and 12, the Irish sent five men and pressured Plummer, who was able to step up and get loose to pick up the first down on a huge 21-yard scramble.

Plummer then threw a perfect dime to wideout Jeremiah Hunter, who made an over-the-shoulder grab despite tight coverage from freshman cornerback Jaden Mickey. That completion set up first and goal for the Golden Bears. The Notre Dame defense tightened from there, including a huge open-field tackle from graduate student safety DJ Brown to prevent receiver Mavin Anderson from scoring on a screen pass.

Longhetto nailed his second field goal attempt of the day, this time from just 34 yards out, to give Cal a 10-7 lead. 

Down three points, Notre Dame got the ball back with about four minutes left in the half. The drive started off promising before it all unraveled. Pyne was sacked on second down to set up a third and nine. Before the snap, graduate student offensive line Jarrett Patterson was flagged for a false start, making it 14 for the first down. Then, senior offensive line Zeke Correll made the same mistake and backed them up five more yards. It was the fourth false start penalty on Notre Dame in the first half, and all of them came on third down.

Following the penalties, the Irish failed to pick up the first down, and with just four seconds left on the clock, Freeman elected to punt the ball away instead of taking a chance at the end zone before the half. Down by three and showing a lot of the same problems they had against Marshall a week before, much of the home crowd, dressed in green from head to toe, booed as the Irish made their way off the field at halftime.

Notre Dame came out strong in the second half. California received the ball to start, but a quick three and out forced a punt. This time, it was the Audric Estime show. The sophomore running back had six carries on the drive, including a dive into the end zone for the touchdown. Turns out, Notre Dame ran the same play four times in a row ahead of that score.

“That play was working. We had the momentum and the O-line was pushing guys off the line and opening up holes for me,” said Estime. “We did run the same play four times, but if it works, don’t stop.”

Facing their first deficit of the game, Cal took over at the 25 after a Grupe touchback. The Golden Bears moved the ball efficiently, going down the field in a long 10-play drive that ended with Plummer running the QB sneak into the end zone on third and goal to retake the lead, 17-14.

At this point in the game, Coach Freeman told his squad to change the narrative and to do it through execution. 

“I remember I said to the sideline after we gave up that touchdown drive, I think we were down three, and I said: ‘This isn’t going to be a repeat. This isn’t going to be “Here we go again.”  We’re going to change the outcome of this game, and it’s going to be by our offense going out there and doing what we have to do and executing, and then our defense when we get the opportunity, we’re going to go out there and execute. And that’s what you saw.  We needed that,” said Freeman.

Notre Dame tied it on the following possession, driving it 46 yards and into Cal territory. The Irish committed to the running game on this drive, handing it off seven times to Tyree and Estime.

“I wanted to run the ball. I felt like we were moving the ball and so, let’s continue to run it,” Freeman said. 

Eventually the drive stalled, and Grupe came on and converted a 47-yard field goal as Notre Dame evened the score at 17.

Now, in the fourth quarter with the game tied, it was crunch time for Notre Dame on both sides of the ball. The defense responded with a phenomenal series punctuated by senior defensive lineman Jacob Lacey’s second sack of the day. Three and out Cal.

“We prepared all week for this. We knew we had a chance to get after the quarterback and we emphasized it every day,” said Lacey. “It paid off.”

With the ball back in Pyne’s hands, the offense got back to work. Working off an efficient run game, Notre Dame was able to move the ball into Cal territory, and on first down they broke out for their longest play of the game: a 36-yard completion from Pyne to Estime.

“Audric made a great cut on an angle route off the linebacker and I threw it early because they were bringing pressure. He made a great catch and just ran with it,” said Pyne.

Pyne finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Michael Mayer on the next play. Mayer featured less against Cal than the first two games, with just two catches on 10 yards, but he was there when Notre Dame needed him. And Pyne found him to take a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

From that point forward, the Irish defense stepped up to the task. On the following drive, they forced a turnover on downs. Senior defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey was huge down the stretch and sacked Plummer on fourth and 10 with the Bears threatening to score.

After a quick series — and a Sot punt that pinned Cal inside their own 10 — the defense was back on the field. Immediately they showed they were up to the task, forcing two throw aways from Plummer and pressuring him in the end zone. On third down, the pressure got to Plummer, and Foskey and graduate student defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola combined for a sack that was almost a game-sealing safety.

After a Cal punt from their own end zone and another quick punt from Notre Dame, Cal took over at the 25 with a little over a minute left and no timeouts. Then, chaos ensued. 

On the first play of Cal’s drive, it seemed like it was over. Plummer overthrew his receiver, and the ball went straight into the arms of junior cornerback Clarence Lewis, who slid down and began celebrating with his teammates. Unfortunately for Lewis, a flag had been thrown on the play and Irish senior linebacker and captain JD Bertrand was called for targeting and ejected from the game. It also meant 15 yards and a Cal first down.

Freeman was incredulous: “I looked at J.D. and said, ‘J.D., really?’” 

Plummer and Cal began to move the ball down the field and on third and 7, it looked like the defense had sealed it again. Justin Ademilola got to Plummer again and, as the quarterback tried to escape the pocket, Ademilola was able to drag him down and force a fumble.. The loose ball was recovered by graduate student cornerback TaRiq Bracy, who returned the ball for a touchdown as the stadium erupted. But again, the call was overturned after video review made it clear that Plummer’s right knee hit the ground before he lost the football.

“It was a rollercoaster for sure,” said Lacey of the final drive. “But we knew if we were on the field, the game was in hand regardless. We weren’t worried about the next play or them scoring. We just knew we had to execute, and that’s what we did.”

After Ademilola’s sack, five seconds remained on the clock for Plummer and the Golden Bears to take one last shot at the end zone. Notre Dame dropped seven into coverage for the final play as Plummer heaved a long shot into the end zone. With every defender in the area — and three Cal receivers there as well — the ball was juggled around in the air and eventually fell harmlessly to the ground.

The defense played hard until the final whistle and lived up to the pressure in the final minute. The unit had struggled in the first two games of the year, twice giving up 90+ yard touchdown drives in the final period. Those difficulties led to emphasis from the coaching staff on finishing games.

“Found a way to finish. I’m proud of those guys. You know what? It is hard to win football games,” said Freeman.

It was Notre Dame’s first win of the season and the first of Freeman’s tenure at the helm of the program. It was also a win for Drew Pyne in his first career start for Notre Dame.

“There’s a lot of coaching that happened on that field today that we can learn from. But listen, if you don’t take a minute to enjoy these things, you’re going to regret it. That’s what I keep reminding myself is enjoy this victory. We’ll get back to work tomorrow, but again, I want to celebrate with those guys today.”

Contact José Sánchez Córdova at


The holy hike never got easier

As those close to me know best, ever since I was 11 years old I wanted to go to Notre Dame. While it was due to watching “Rudy” and falling in love with Notre Dame football, I learned more about the University, its academics and its Catholic tradition. It only led me to fall in love with it more. While I was never the best student, I thought I would be able to attend school there someday. Everyone I knew, from family, friends, teachers, even my dentist, said I was like a modern day Rudy. Fast forward to my senior year of high school, I got my decision letter… denied.

It was heartbreaking to say the least. Less than a week later, I found out I got accepted to Holy Cross College. While my mom was ecstatic that I got into college. I forced a fake smile on my face, which was believable enough that she never knew that I wasn’t happy when I got my letter (I know you’re reading this mom, I’m sorry you found out this way). Instead, my whole mindset was, “OK, work your butt off and transfer over,” so I did. To keep this short, I got denied again and then again my sophomore year. I made a promise to myself to not try my junior year, as I thought only being at Notre Dame for one year would make me feel like I wasn’t truly ever a student. 

Fast forward to senior year. I have taken multiple classes at Notre Dame, work for The Observer and The Shirt committee, all while still being a student at Holy Cross. I have embraced Holy Cross like my second home, and will always continue to represent them with great pride. Saying that though, I can’t admit that it doesn’t hurt taking the “holy hike” all the way to Riley Hall, passing by the Golden Dome and thinking about what could’ve been.

It’s a weird feeling that I have been involved closely with both schools. While some deny it and try to say it isn’t true, we all know that there are people at Notre Dame who look down on those who attend Holy Cross. I’ve never known why and it confuses me everyday. There are people like me who are just as if not more involved with both Notre Dame and Holy Cross, yet they are not given as much respect, only because we proudly represent the Saints instead of the Irish.

I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Notre Dame kids (even those who are/were Gateways), some who are the nicest people I’ve ever met and those who brush me off as soon as I mention that I go to Holy Cross. It sucks that as soon as I cross the street over to Notre Dame — despite being involved in so much — that I still feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I got denied entry, I’ve come to terms with that, but all that I ask is that I get the same respect from people here that I give to them. Is that too much to ask? I thought we were called a tri-campus for a reason.

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.