Feb 25, 2013, 9:36 PM EDT
Champions are made in the offseason… as it is often said.
The offseason, however, is about so much more than improving on the practice field and in the weight room. It’s a time for programs to instill values (such as last year’s “A-Team” philosophy) and perhaps more importantly, for student-athletes to grow in the classroom and away from their sport.
Among the five cornerstones that head coach Brian Kelly‘s program is built upon are the ideas of social and spiritual development, both of which are closely connected to community service.
This past summer, for example, members of the Irish football team spent time in a class through the Center for Social Concerns.
On Saturday, Notre Dame and the Student Welfare & Development office invited Big Brothers Big Sisters to campus for a morning at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.
The event kicked off with Duke Preston, program director for Student Welfare & Development, and Ernest Jones, the football team’s Director of Player Development and Engagement welcoming visitors in the Gug’s Isban Auditorium.
Senior Linebacker Danny Spond, the youngest in his family, and freshman quarterback Malik Zaire, an only child, said a few words, talking about the impact that coaches, mentors and teammates have had on their lives and athletic careers.
Both student-athletes spoke about wanting to be role models to their visitors, reflecting the team’s goal of being “other-centered,” a principle value of Irish Around The Bend, the team’s community service arm.
Following the introductions, the “bigs” (mentors) and “littles” (mentees) watched a Here Come The Irish video and 2012 highlight reel, before Preston and Jones led them around the building, giving everyone a special inside look at the meeting rooms, locker room and team lounge used by the Notre Dame football team on a daily basis.
The tour culminated with a trip to the Haggar Fitness Center, where of course, it was time to get to work.
After the rest of the student-athletes introduced themselves, they led participants through a series of offensive and defensive drills on the indoor turf field – an opportunity to not only share the sport they love with children, but also a chance to develop friendships with some of the young fans that support them on Saturdays in the fall.
“I think we have a big impact…[The children] can see these are normal guys. They worked hard. They did these same things. [We] were once in their shoes, how they were here this morning,” Grace said.
Likewise, cornerback Bennett Jackson enjoyed the opportunity to play a positive role in the lives of the youth who look up to him.
“You give them something to set a goal to work towards,” the cornerback said. “I’m sure a lot of kids around here grow up loving Notre Dame football. Building a relationship with them takes them that much closer to reaching their goal, if they want to come to this university. I think we can have a huge impact on them, just serving as a role model and a friend, showing them support.”
With less than two months until the spring game, and about six until the season opener, it was an excellent opportunity for the Irish to give back to those who cheer them on week in and week out at Notre Dame Stadium.
“The community around here is the biggest support to us, and we want them to feel that we support them as much as they support us,” Jackson said.
Check out Fighting Irish Digital Media’s recap of the event, as well as several photos from the fun morning at the Gug.
About Strong and True
ND Football on YouTube
- VIEWS FROM THE 6 👀 Coach Kelly visited the Notre Dame Club of Toronto yesterday and made a stop at @TSN_Sports https://t.co/QGwk2b6Zzi 5 hours ago
- It's been a little too quiet around here... This time next week, our players go back to work. https://t.co/lIIUEhhFw9 1 day ago
- We're proud to report that former linebacker Jarrett Grace has signed with the Chicago Bears. Congratulations JG! https://t.co/XrTAONHz4n 1 day ago
- Remember the Alamo? We're coming back. The official 2016 Shamrock Series logo is here. https://t.co/FWPOoM5Ffu 2 days ago
- RT @CoreyRobinson13: Incredible to see how @NotreDame is everywhere, even on Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem! #NDSAS #weareND https://t.co/wN1UxM… 2 days ago
- M. Basketball. Coach Brey May 25, 2016 Media Session
- W. Tennis. Gleason's Comeback Bid Falls Short In NCAA Singles First Round
- Baseball. Summer Ball Provides Key Development Opportunities For Players
- M. Tennis. Monaghan Advances To Round of 32 At NCAA Singles Championship
- W. Basketball. Irish, Hawkeyes To Meet In ACC-B1G Challenge
- M. Basketball. Ingelsby Accepts Delaware Head Coach Position
- W. Volleyball. Irish Volleyball Adds Klein & Truett To 2016 Roster
- W. Tennis. Irish Insights: NCAA Singles Championship
- M. Basketball. Irish To Welcome Hawkeyes In 'Challenge' Rematch
- M. Tennis. Monaghan Named National ITA Arthur Ashe Award Winner