John McMackin, Staff Writer

Notre Dame’s traditions set it apart from other universities. Chief among these traditions are the beautiful and sometimes outlandish gameday traditions.  Whether it be lighting a candle at the grotto before the game or singing the Alma Mater afterwards, Notre Dame football games are defined by their traditions.

The university’s traditions are most pronounced when the Irish face their greatest rival, the University of Southern California.  In the weeks leading up to the game against USC, members of the Notre Dame community shared their personal traditions relating to Saturday gamedays.

Mr. Chris Kennedy of Noblesville, IN, and a 1980 Notre Dame graduate, wears his class ring to every game.  He feels that it displays his solidarity with his class and the entire Notre Dame community: It represents that each of us is part of something greater.

“It’s a thing that seems kinda small,” says Kaitlyn Kennedy, a Ryan Hall sophomore, who wears a green ribbon in her hair every gameday.  “It’s something that I’ve worn to every game I’ve been to as a student.  I mean, tradition is all about doing the same things over and over again, right?”

Erik Mendoza, a sophomore in Morrissey Manor, wears the same baseball cap to every game: “It was the first piece of ND apparel I ever got, so I wear it to every game.  Even the cold ones!”

“I’m kind of a band geek being a member of the Trombone Section and all,” remarked sophomore Andrew McCabe of Sorin College.  “As such, I really enjoy seeing all the traditions that the sections of the Band do around campus.  There’s midnight drummer circle where everyone gets together and we just have a great time getting pumped for gameday.  Then there’s the Band’s morning march out to North Quad and Lafun.  Nothing gets me going early on Saturday morning quite like that!”

“I think by far my favorite is the Trombone Victory Taco, though,” McCabe continued.  “After morning practice at around 11:00, the Trombone section goes straight to South Dining Hall and we sit down at the ‘Jesus’ table.  Then, a freshman who was chosen by the Victory Taco from the previous year shouts across the Dining Hall and eats the taco.  It’s great!

“After that it’s time for Concert on the Steps of Bond Hall.  We play our music for halftime, and then some classic school tunes like Damsha Bua (the Victory Clog) and the Alma Mater.  Then the whole band makes its way to the Main Building to get ready for March-out to the stadium.  The trumpets go into the Dome and play the Alma Mater and the Victory March while the trombones play ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’ and the Victory March right in front of the Dome.  Some male saxophones run into a men’s bathroom in the Dome and play the Victory March at around the same time, too.”

Traditions, especially those related to Notre Dame football, are great.  Here are some others that are pretty popular around campus:

1)   Attending Mass before the game

2)   Swimming in the reflecting pool on Saturday morning as the band marches to Loftus

3)   Cheering on the players as they walk to the stadium from the Guglielmino Center

4)   Watching and listening to the Bagpipe Band march through Lafun

5) Going to candlelight dinner after the game

6)  Listening to the Trumpets, Saxophones, and Faltos as they play and sing during brunch in South Dining Hall

7)   Pouring an oblation for Knute Rockne at midnight at his statue at the stadium

By far the best tradition, though, is cheering on the Irish!  Go Irish, Beat Panthers!

John McMackin is a sophomore in Keenan Hall studying history and theology. But he wishes he could major in Time Travel and build a TARDIS.  He can be reached at