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The Notre Dame leprechaun is the mascot of the Fighting Irish sports club at the University of Notre Dame, USA. He appears at athletic events, most notably at football games. It was designed by noted sports artist Theodore W. Drake in 1964 for US$50.
The Fighting Irish logo features a side view of The Leprechaun with his fists up, ready to battle anyone that comes his way. The live version is a student, chosen annually at tryouts, dressed in a cutaway green suit and Irish country hat. The Leprechaun brandishes a shillelagh and aggressively leads cheers and interacts with the crowd, supposedly bringing magical powers and good luck to the Notre Dame team. The Leprechaun is drawn in the shape of Ireland.
The Leprechaun was not always the official mascot of Notre Dame. For years, the team was represented by a series of Irish terrier dogs. The first, named Brick Top Shuan-Rhu, was donated by Charles Otis of Cleveland and presented to football head coach Knute Rockne the weekend of the Notre Dame-Pennsylvania game November 8, 1930. A number of terriers later took the role of the school mascot, which usually took the name Clashmore Mike. The Clashmore Mike mascot last made an appearance on the cover of the 1963 Notre Dame Football Dope Book with coach Hugh Devore and captain Bob Lehmann.
The Leprechaun was named the official mascot in 1965, when the Leprechaun was registered as an official university mark. However, earlier, in 1961, John Brandt from Elyria, Ohio became the first man to don the uniform and appear with Clashmore Mike at a home game against Oklahoma. Brandt served as the Leprechaun until 1963. The Leprechaun for the 2011-2012 academic year was Mike George. Senior Bryce Burton is the leprechaun for the 2012 football season.
The Leprechaun can be seen around campus on football game weekends as he acts as the MC of Friday night pep rallies, makes several appearances at tailgates before games, and leads the band as it marches to Notre Dame Stadium. During games, he shakes down the thunder by leading the traditional cheers of the student section, dancing his signature Irish Jig, and intimidating opposing mascots.
Along with the cheerleaders, The Leprechaun also acts as a foremost ambassador for the University of Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish travel across the nation. He engages in several community service initiatives, makes public appearances, and promotes good will wherever he travels.
The Leprechaun also leads the raucous student section at Fighting Irish varsity athletic events, which is aptly named "The Leprechaun Legion." This fiercely loyal contingency of diehards is known to inspire fear in the hearts of all opposing players, earning them consistent rankings as one of the top student cheering sections, especially in NCAA basketball.
Tryouts to become The Leprechaun take place over a grueling month long process each spring. Prospect leprechauns are presented with several mental and physical challenges that only true leprechauns are capable of completing until the field is narrowed down to under ten finalists. During the final round of tryouts, each contestant must lead a 5 minute mock pep rally, answer questions during an interview with a local media personality, respond to a game situation, answer Notre Dame trivia, dance Notre Dame's version of the Irish Jig, and complete 50 pushups. A panel of judges then interviews each candidate in private before making the final decision.
Despite popular belief, there are no strict requirements for becoming the leprechaun. Notre Dame students of any height are eligible to try out regardless of their ability to grow a beard. The overall "look" of candidates does weigh into the decision, however, and more often than not a dashingly handsome young man with the exceptional ability to grow a chinstrap beard will be chosen. Candidates must also prove that they seek to become the leprechaun for the right reasons, and they must truly have a special love for the tradition and spirit of Notre Dame in their hearts.
- "Ted Drake, 92, Creator of Notre Dame Logo". The New York Times. May 30, 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/30/us/ted-drake-92-creator-of-notre-dame-logo.html.
- University of Notre Dame Traditions at CSTV.com
- Stryker, Sam (May 2, 2011). "ND names leprechaun". The Observer (Notre Dame). http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/news/nd-names-leprechaun-1.2215677#.ULGc483DjU4. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- Curtis, Charles (November 14, 2012). "Mascot Memoirs: Notre Dame leprechaun". ESPN The Magazine. ESPN. http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/fandom/post/_/id/14286/mascot-memoirs-the-notre-dame-leprechaun. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
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