New additions to old traditions: Freeman to engage with fans ahead of first home game

Marcus Freeman will engage with fans at the Rockne Rally on South Quad Friday night and at the Victory March event on Library Lawn this Saturday prior to his first home game as head coach for the Irish.

The events are newly named, “enhanced” traditions for Notre Dame fans to engage in this weekend, associate director for fan experience Darin Ottaviani said.

“We’re excited to commemorate Coach Freeman’s first home game with some fun and new fan experience opportunities,” he said.

Rocking by Rockne

Sponsored by Dillon Hall, the Rockne Rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will include Freeman’s appearance, performances by the Notre Dame Band, Cheer team, Pom Squad and Dillon Hall-organized hype events.

Branded the “Rockne Rally” for the first time this year, the rally is a running tradition for first home game weekends on South Quad.

“It’s just a fun way to kick off the season and it’s more student-centric this year than it’s been in the past,” Ottaviani said.

Dawson Kaiser, president of Dillon Hall, said he and his fellow organizers are excited about the fun activities they planned.

“I think there’s going to be a good showing and a lot of crowd involvement, which we’re really excited about,” Kaiser said. “We didn’t want to make it just about Dillon and go up there and do a bunch of skits, we wanted to include the dorms as much as we could.”

Two specific events that were planned for the rally were the “Are You Smarter Than a Dillon Freshman?” game show and the “makeover challenge” where “we’re going to have girls put makeup on different guys from other dorms,” Kaiser said.

The Dillon Hall programming portion of the rally, Kaiser said, will open at 5:30 p.m. and the rally’s other events will take over at 6:15 p.m.

Marching to Victory with Coach Freeman

Formerly referred to as “the Player Walk” where football players walked from the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on home game days across Library Lawn and into the stadium, this year’s “Victory March” will instead begin at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and include a speech by Freeman on Library Lawn, Ottaviani said.

The event organizers took the Player Walk event, “and now enhanced it,” Ottaviani said.

“We’ll have a sound system, it’ll be a bigger event and again a chance for Coach, who wanted to engage with the fans on the way into the stadium, to be able to do that,” Ottaviani said.

The event will also feature a musical performance as the football team makes its way to Library Lawn. Prior to the team appearing at the stage at 12:15 p.m., the Glee Club will perform at 11:30 a.m.

Similarly, for 7:30 p.m. home games, the Glee Club will perform on the stage at 4:30 p.m. and the football team will arrive at 5:15 p.m.

Ottaviani credited Freeman for much of the engaging activities planned for home football games this season.

“It’s always had a great following of people, and now we’re excited to just make it more of an event where there’s speaking and engagement because that’s what the coach’s goal was,” Ottaviani said.

Tunnel experience access

This year, fans will also be able to access to the North Tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium throughout the football season, assistant athletics director Juli Schreiber said in an email.

“For the first time in two years, we are opening the North Tunnel with two types of experiences,” she said.

 The “North Tunnel Experience” will be held on select dates throughout the season, not including home game weekends, she said, and the “Friday Tunnel Experience” will take place on home game Fridays, Schreider said.

The former will provide fans with photo opportunities including the North Tunnel entrance, the visiting team locker room and the iconic “Play Like a Champion” sign.

Similarly, guests will be able to take photos on the North End Zone and at the North Tunnel entrance for the Friday Tunnel Experience for a $10 fee benefiting the Rockne Athletics Fund. In her email, Schreiber said gifts to the fund “allow student athletes at the University of Notre Dame to be champions in the classroom, community and competition.”

Contact Liam Price at


Students, faculty react to updated ‘Victory March’ lyrics

As the football team gears up for their season opener against Ohio State on Saturday, fans will sing the “Notre Dame Victory March” as they root for the Irish. This year, however, the last two lines of the 114-year-old fight song will sound different.

The song’s concluding lines previously sang, “While her loyal sons are marching / Onward to victory.” In June, however, the University announced that the lyrics would be changed to, “While her loyal sons and daughters / march on to victory.”

Many students and faculty were pleased to see the song’s update. 

“It’s been a long time in coming,” English professor Romana Huk said in an email. “I think it’s a sign of [Notre Dame’s] ability to think forward, to be responsive to the need for change.”

First-year Dylan Devezin pointed out that even though the song is a valued tradition, traditions themselves are capable of change.

“Allowing women on campus was a big change in the normal Notre Dame tradition, so I believe other things surrounding that should change, as well,” he said.

Sophomore Emma Schoenauer said she understood the importance of tradition, but felt the updated lyrics were necessary. 

“I think a lot of things stay the same because they’re tradition,” she said. “But I think that because it did change, that was a positive thing.”

Maggie Borgos, a first-year master’s student studying English with a gender studies graduate minor, said allowing traditions to change is important. 

“Yes, we’re rooted in tradition, but we’re also really rooted in creating new traditions,” she said. “I think this change will be part of that.”

Junior Jack Wagner was excited that more Notre Dame students could now feel like they fit in. 

“I think it’s good that they’re being more inclusive with it so more people can relate,” Wagner said.

First-year Bella Dillhoff was also happy to see the lyrics change, but felt the University should have changed it to “children” to include non-binary individuals. 

“They should have added ‘daughters’ a long time ago, and now they could just change it to include everyone,” she said.

Much of the community saw the update as overdue.

“I thought that the change was a little delayed considering the Title IX Gender Equity Act was passed in 1972,” sophomore Brooke Collins said. 

To Collins, it was “disrespectful to the women athletes that have been fighting for the reputation of this university and upholding it for so long.”

Borgos said that the update is an important change following Title IX.

“I think, given that it has been like 50 years since Title IX was passed, this is amazing,” Borgos said. “It is a great way to celebrate where Notre Dame is going in terms of greater inclusivity and representation of all students on our campus, so I’m pretty excited about it.”

After the fight song stayed the same for so long, sophomore Jessica Vickery was skeptical that fans will be able to adjust to the change.

“It was unexpected and something that probably won’t stick just because everyone’s used to just saying ‘sons marching on,’” Vickery said.

Vickery also said that because fans sing the fight song in support of the all-male football team, the addition of “daughters” as a lyric isn’t necessary. 

“It’s us cheering on the football team, and it didn’t have to become a whole kind of political thing by adding women into it,” she said.

Sophomore Ava Nelligan was especially critical of Notre Dame for past transgressions regarding Title IX. 

“They are overhyping the decision that they’re making rather than taking actual steps to protect women on campus,” she said. “The performative step of adding two words to a song is not nearly enough to address Notre Dame’s failings.”

Liam Price

Contact Liam at