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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Controlling their Destiny: Nic Weishar and the Irish keep a positive outlook in the face of adversity

Ann Curtis and Domi
Ann Curtis and Dominique DeMoe | The Observer

Editor's note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Oct. 26 edition of The Observer.

Regardless of the obstacles Nic Weishar has faced, one thing has remained steady — his dedication.

The graduate student tight end was recently honored for the work he’s done with Weish4Ever, a foundation in honor of his late brother, Andrew Weishar, who lost his battle with colon cancer in 2012. The youngest of three boys, Weishar, a four-star recruit out of Marist High School, said his family support was a big reason he chose the Irish.

“Notre Dame kind of had the best of everything,” he said. “I’m from Chicago so being so close to home that was one thing. I wanted my family and friends to be able to come see a lot of my games, that was one big reason.”

That decision to commit to Notre Dame followed the tragic loss of his oldest brother, who died during Nic’s junior year of high school, after a two-year long battle with cancer. In honor of Andrew, the Weishar family established Weish4ever, an organization that provides financial assistance to families with children and young adults battling cancer. Weishar was recently recognized for his efforts with Weish4Ever as one of 11 FBS players to be selected to the Allstate & AFCA Good Works Team, an honor reserved for college football players who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to community service and a desire to leave a positive impact.

“Before Andrew passed, his last wish was to pay forward the kindness and generosity he was shown throughout his battle,” Weishar said. “To be given that award shows that the foundation is doing what Andrew asked us to do and making a difference in people’s lives. To be able to honor Andrew in that way, to keep his legacy alive has been so humbling and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”

In the six years since Andrew’s death, Weish4ever has provided donations to numerous families. Their feature event is an annual music festival in the suburbs of Chicago that many of Weishar's teammates attend. 

“They’ve been unbelievable. Anything that we need, whether it be donated gear for Weishfest or the silent auction or having 30, 40 guys at Weishfest itself,” he said. “We’ve had several community service events, just visiting hospitals and visiting families that the guys always want to get on board with. The platform that Notre Dame here has, when Notre Dame tweets something about Weishfest or Weish4ever 500,000 people see it. Little things like that ... It just shows the character of the people here.”

Although he described his time at Notre Dame an “incredible experience” there was reason to believe that Weishar wouldn’t be returning after last season. Playing for a program notorious for producing NFL-caliber tight ends has its drawbacks. Entering this season, Weishar was largely considered to be the fourth string, behind Mack and sophomores Cole Kmet and Brock Wright. Despite considerable uncertainty over playing time, Weishar returned for his final year of eligibility, displaying that same dedication.

“I love all the guys on this team so much that I couldn’t see myself going away from them when I had the opportunity to come back,” he said.

One of those friendships goes back well before the days of the blue and gold.

Weishar met senior wide receiver Miles Boykin on the hardwood floors, playing basketball together since fourth grade. It’s hard to believe as Weishar is currently pursuing his Master’s of Finance, but he said he never thought they’d be playing football at this level.

“[Mile’s was] obviously such a good player in high school and grade school,” Weishar said. “... I think we brother kinda grew up thinking we’d be basketball players so it’s funny to see how things worked out. We have a great relationship, we have so much fun out there together. When he’s in the end zone or I score or something we give each other big hugs. It’s pretty cool experience.”

Those end zone celebrations didn’t come easily for Weishar.

After redshirting his freshman season, Weishar appeared in 12 games each of his sophomore and junior seasons, but struggled to establish himself in the rotation, only starting a single game each season.  

“Being in that redshirt position is kinda humbling, especially coming out as highly touted high school player,” he said. “You always come in expecting to play right away but you know that freshman year humbles you sometimes. That’s just something I can relate to with these younger guys, talking with them about not playing stinks but just to make sure their focusing on really honing their craft and just using this year to focus on making sure they’re getting bigger, faster and stronger and working on their technique.”

Weishar also said his experience has taught him hard work pays off and to make the most of opportunities when you get them. One of those opportunities came earlier this season when Notre Dame took on Stanford in their first top-10 matchup at home since 2005. With seconds left in the first quarter and the Cardinal having just tied the game 7-7, Weishar lined up on the six-yard line. He broke for the end zone where he secured the high pass from junior quarterback Ian Book to give the Irish the lead.

“We’ve ran that play so many times before in practice so at that point it’s just taking it back to practice and making sure you get your job done,” he said. “For me, my job is to run a simple six yard hitch and Ian put it on me and I was fortunate enough to make a play. Obviously a really cool experience scoring but even better knowing you got the job done for the team.”

As the Irish head west to take on Navy this Saturday, they’ll be looking to Weishar's team-first attitude and commitment to community to maintain their perfect record.

“There’s definitely unfinished business,” he said. “Winning a national championship is something that I felt this team could do and obviously we’re in a good position to still do that … Coach Long told me they really see me as an asset and a leader to this team. That’s something I’ve worked hard to become and I couldn’t walk away from that.

“It’s what we’ve worked for. We want to be in this position. You think back to winter workouts and summer workouts and all the gruelling stuff we’ve gone through as a team. To be in this position right here, it’s what we want to do. Every goal, every week is the same — beat the team in front of us and move on. Being 7-0 is great and we’re looking forward to Navy, it’s gonna be a great battle.”