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The Spirit of Notre Dame

Nov 3, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

(PHOTO/Brian Spurlock)

Mike Franz, a member of the athletic department’s student writing staff, brings us an alternative view on football Saturdays. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

Notre Dame legend Lou Holtz stated at the USC Pep Rally a couple of weeks ago, “Some things at Notre Dame never change; Notre Dame still has the best band and the most beautiful cheerleaders in the country.” These cheerleaders are solely responsible for leading the Irish faithful in cheers and also lead the football team out of tunnel at the beginning of each home game on Saturday afternoons.

Although it may look at the surface that being a Notre Dame cheerleader is easy stuff, it actually takes a lot of hard work. Senior Gold Squad cheerleader, Erin Garfield, knows this more than anyone. In her senior year, she has become accustomed to the grueling process it takes to be able to be on the field to cheer the Irish onto victory.

“We practice every night Monday through Thursday from 5-7 and we also have strength and conditioning at 6:50 in the morning for about an hour,” Garfield said while laughing. “It’s tough, but it’s worth it.”

Enrolled in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, there is no such thing as an easy week for this student. With practices, workouts, events and classes every week, a Notre Dame cheerleader has to have terrific time management as it seems that they have a million different things to do at once.

Just as the football team has tryouts before their season begins, the Notre Dame Cheer Team has them as well. The head coach of the cheeleaders, Jo Minton, believes that a student’s freshman year should be primarily focused on the transition from high school to college life and academics. Therefore, students are allowed to start trying out to be on the team at the end of their freshman year.

Erin Garfield recalled her tryout a couple of years ago as intimidating and fun at the same time.

“First year was definitely the most pressure,” Garfield stated. “We had about three weeks of clinics before the actual tryout date to get us prepared for the big moment.”

Garfield believed that once you make the team it is much easier to stay on the team, and once they make it, the Notre Dame Cheerleaders have the chance to cheer on their designated Notre Dame sports teams around the country and, more importantly, represent Notre Dame du lac everywhere they go.

Besides being the spirit of Notre Dame Athletics, Notre Dame Cheerleaders are also the spirit of the Notre Dame community. Participating in numerous community events around the South Bend community is something that comes with the territory of being a part of the squad.

Here is a video of the cheerleading team visiting CDTC (Children Development Training Consortium) this past January in South Florida.

The Notre Dame cheerleaders certainly do get the whole Notre Dame experience and they bring that experience to the fans who come to watch Notre Dame football play on Saturdays. And today although Garfield was a little worried for a while, she and her fellow cheerleaders never gave up hope and helped the team get the win over the Naval Academy 38-34.

  1. YCWJStacy - Nov 9, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Thanks for the glimpse into life as a ND cheerleader in 2013. As a cheerleader for the 1977 National Championship Football team, I had a very different experience. Lots of practices – yes; early morning conditioning – no; having a coach… wow! We weren’t even part of the athletic department. We were part of “Student Activities.” Regardless, my experiences cheerling on the football field, leading the team out of the tunnel, traveling to away games, and meeting alumni and fans all over the country, remains one of the most memorable time of my life!
    Go IRISH!
    Stacy Weaver Robinson
    Class of 1978

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