Athletics News

The Spirit And Tradition Of The Leprechaun Lives On
This leprechaun sculpture, courtesy of the Merck family, was unveiled last Friday (Sept. 27) at Gate 10 of Purcell Pavilion.

Oct. 1, 2013



By Renee Peggs

The leprechaun has become a virtual symbol of the spirit of Notre Dame that reaches out and touches the hearts of millions of people throughout the world.

Speaking to several dozen friends, family, and Fighting Irish faithful, Fr. Leo Banas, C.S.C., proclaimed this axiomatic blessing on the latest addition to our University's legendary sculpture collection: a leprechaun sculpture in the Purcell Pavilion.

Its significance is manifold, which comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the sculptures on campus. What may be surprising is that originally it was unclear whether this sculpture would even be allowed on campus. What?! Indeed, the committee had expressed a growing concern over the proliferation of sculptures of a non-religious variety. Senior deputy athletics director Missy Conboy confided that "we had to keep three or four national championship coaches locked up in the stadium for several years until we were able to convince the statue committee that going 12-0 in football is the next closest thing to an actual miracle!"

The luck of the Irish prevailed: it so happens that the statue committee has authority only over outdoor sculptures. Thus a dream became reality, as renowned sculptor Gerry McKenna gave life to the vision of one family whose hearts forever praise and love Notre Dame.

Tim and Beth Merck, along with their children Jon ('09) and Katherine ('12), have long demonstrated a commitment to preserving stories and dreams and passion in their operation of Old World Christmas, one of the leading distributors of the world's most extensive collections of mouth-blown Christmas ornaments, glass figurines, vintage night lights and nostalgic greeting cards. Jon and Katherine fulfilled a dream for their grandmother by attending and graduating from Notre Dame. Their family's donation of the leprechaun sculpture is simply another branch on the tree of their family creativity and generosity.

The statue is located in Gate 10 of the Purcell Pavilion, the very gate through which the Leprechaun Legion enters the arena to cheer on the basketball and volleyball teams. Conboy reminded us that all Notre Dame traditions - such as touching the PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY sign and cheering Sgt. Tim McCarthy's safety announcements during the third quarter - began as something very small before they grew to legendary status, and suggested that this statue would likely be attached someday to a particular act of reverence or superstition: "and Jack (Swarbrick) has asked to be the very first one to kiss it."

Athletics director Jack Swarbrick connected his story to that of the Merck family by revealing that his Irish grandparents also dreamed of having a child or grandchild attend ND, and professing his pride in being the first in his family to achieve that dream. Swarbrick expertly spun legend and lore worthy of the great Irish tales as he spoke about the essence of Notre Dame: "generations past felt strongly about the value of this place for their families. The statues and artwork on campus - your experience, what you encounter, what you see - ensure that we extend the story about Notre Dame" for generations to come.

Following Banas' blessing, Swarbrick presented Tim and Beth, Jon, and Katherine with their own miniature versions of the leprechaun sculpture. Members of the Glee Club then serenaded the gathered assembly with the Alma Mater. The fervent emotion that never fails was heightened as Tim had shared that this mainstay of Notre Dame tradition had been the final song at Beth's mother's funeral.

"We hope and trust," declared Tim in his remarks, "that this beautiful leprechaun will remind everyone of the fighting spirit of Notre Dame that started back when Father Sorin founded the school, and we hope that it will live on."

-- ND --

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Event Calendar

Delta

January 16
7:00 PM
Louisville
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
January 18
7:00 PM
Tennessee
Notre Dame, Ind.

ESPN
January 19
4:00 PM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla.
January 19
5:00 PM
Michigan State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 19
7:35 PM
Wisconsin
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO PLUS
January 20
4:00 PM
Clemson
Clemson, S.C. (Littlejohn Coliseum)

ESPN
January 20
10:00 AM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla.
January 20
10:00 AM
Notre Dame Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind.
January 20
All Day
St. Johns SuperCup
Jamaica, New York
January 21
1:00 PM
Clemson
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACCNE
January 21
12:00 PM
Kentucky
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 21
3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Chicago, Ill. (United Center)

NBCSN
January 21
5:00 PM
Cleveland State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 21
All Day
NYU Invitational
Philadelphia, Pa.
January 23
5:00 PM
Western Michigan
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 25
7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Penn.

ACCNE
January 26
5:30 PM
Indiana Relays
Bloomington, Ind.
January 26
8:00 PM
Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN (Mariucci Arena)

ESPN2
January 26
All Day
Shamrock Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (Rolfs Aquatic Center)
January 27
8:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

ESPN2
January 27
10:00 AM
Indiana Relays
Bloomington, Ind.
January 27
1:00 PM
Texas
Austin, Texas (Texas Tennis Center)
January 27
2:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Notre Dame, Ind. (Eck Tennis Pavilion)
January 27
8:00 PM
Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN (Mariucci Arena)

FOX SPORTS NORTH PLUS
January 27
All Day
Shamrock Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind. (Rolfs Aquatic Center)
January 27
All Day
DeCicco Duals
Notre Dame, IN (Castellan Family Fencing Center)
January 28
4:00 PM
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla.

ESPN2
January 28
All Day
DeCicco Duals
Notre Dame, IN (Castellan Family Fencing Center)
January 28
TBA
Tennessee or Minnesota
Austin, Texas (Texas Tennis Center)
January 29
7:00 PM
Duke
Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

ESPN
February 1
7:00 PM
North Carolina
Notre Dame, Ind.

ACCNE
February 2
4:00 PM
Meyo Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind.
February 2
6:30 PM
Penn State
State College, PA (Pegula Ice Arena)

BTN
February 3
12:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C. (PNC Arena)

ESPN or ESPN2
February 3
9:45 AM
Meyo Invitational
Notre Dame, Ind.
February 3
12:00 PM
Boston College
Dedham, Mass. (Dedham Health & Athletic Complex)
February 3
1:00 PM
Ball State and Green Bay
Notre Dame, Ind. (Rolfs Aquatic Center)
February 3
4:00 PM
Penn State
State College, PA (Pegula Ice Arena)
February 3
All Day
Northwestern Duals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Castellan Family Fencing Center)
February 4
1:00 PM
Duke
Durham, N.C.

ESPN2
February 4
12:00 PM
Ohio State
Columbus, Ohio (Varsity Tennis Center)
February 4
All Day
Northwestern Duals
Notre Dame, Ind. (Castellan Family Fencing Center)

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