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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
The Observer

Bailey Ross cherishes Notre Dame journey with brother

For Bailey Ross, a life-long dream of attending Notre Dame was superseded only by the dream of playing football for the University.

And although Ross’ route to these dreams was not a short or straight one, the Conyers, Georgia, native has achieved them both.

Ross said his journey to Notre Dame, and the Notre Dame football team, began when he was very young.

“[It was a] lifelong dream, I guess you could say,” Ross said. “I wanted to go here my whole life and grew up a Notre Dame fan, you know, parents are huge Notre Dame fans, so once I got here, it was kind of a no-brainer for me [to try out for the team].”

However, it was not as easy as walking onto campus and onto the team to start freshman year for Ross. He began his college career across the street from Notre Dame at Holy Cross and noted that the transition to Notre Dame when he transferred sophomore year was a difficult one, especially due to the increased academic rigor.

After spending one season playing interhall football, Bailey, along with his twin brother Austin, decided to try to walk on to the Notre Dame football team. The brothers, both 5-foot-10 running backs, made the team together, which, according to Bailey, was a dream come true.

Irish senior running back Bailey Ross warms up before Notre Dame’s game against Miami. Ross is a walk-on along with his brother, Austin.
Kelly Vaughn | The Observer
Irish senior running back Bailey Ross warms up before Notre Dame’s game against Miami. Ross is a walk-on along with his brother, Austin.

“As soon as I found out, I gave [Austin] a big hug and called my dad,” Ross said. “It was a big family celebration. So that meant a lot to me. It’s something that I’ll get to tell my kids about and my grandkids about. It was really great.”

The outcome was ideal for both twins, and Bailey added that being able to play alongside his brother makes his Notre Dame experience all the more worthwhile, especially since they both play the same position.

“It was definitely more special that we both made it because it’s kind of like a life-long pal,” Ross said. “We do everything today, live together, for the past 21 years. … There’s no competition between us. We support each other 100 percent. We give each other pointers, all that. I mean, there’s competition in the sense we push each other to give our best, but there’s no ‘I’m better than you, you’re better than me.’”

While the experience has been one Ross would not trade for anything, he noted that, as a neuroscience major with goals of becoming a doctor, the balance between school and football can be a difficult one to find.

“When you come to school here and then you decide to be a student athlete, you have to figure out what your priorities are fast,” Ross said. “So for me, that’s always been school, but then I had to add football. So, I’ve had to sacrifice other parts of my life. So, in order to major in science, be pre-med, play football, all that, and still be successful enough to do what I want to do after Notre Dame, after football, I had to sacrifice other parts of my life. And it worked out fine.”

While the balance between school and football can be tough, Ross said there have been various role models who have helped him along the way.

“[Running backs coach Autry Denson is] a big role model of mine,” Ross said. “I think he’s a great model of who you should strive to be in terms of character and as a professional. Very committed, very devoted, but also very caring and he’s very sympathetic, empathetic to what you’re going through. He’s always there. And [graduate student running back] Josh Anderson. He, when I first got on the team, he kind of showed me the ropes. He was very patient with me, and stuff. Now he’s one of my best friends.”

When Ross is not studying or on the football field, he dedicates time to volunteering at Riley High School in South Bend as a wrestling coach. Ross was a state-champion wrestler in high school and does what he can to give back to the South Bend community. Ross also travelled to Nicaragua with Global Medical Brigades his freshman year and writes for the Irish Rover.

And while Ross prepares for his final run onto the field as a member of the Notre Dame football team, he noted that nothing can compare to the first time he ran out of the tunnel in Notre Dame Stadium with his gold helmet on.

“No. No. I can’t,” Ross said when asked how he’d describe running out of the tunnel for the first time. “There’s not really any words to describe that. I guess growing up, you’re a Notre Dame fan dreaming about doing it. And then doing it for the first time in a night game against University of Texas, there’s no words. I can’t tell you. … I have chills, goosebumps.”