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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Walk-on Ball cultivates improved work ethic

Senior cornerback Brian Ball is an example of a humble worker for the Notre Dame football program — an individual who manifests the traits of servant leadership. Ball, who hails from Indianapolis, made his debut last year in his junior season against Miami of Ohio on Sept. 30. After not playing as a freshman, Ball joined the team as a walk-on his sophomore year and has been a valuable member of the defensive scout team for the last three years.

A product of Bishop Chatard High School, Ball was a tri-sport athlete who lettered three times in football and baseball, and twice in basketball. On the gridiron, he played wide receiver as a sophomore and junior before transitioning to quarterback as a senior, earning all-city honors. Also the valedictorian of his high school class, Ball enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business upon arriving to campus and will graduate with a major in finance and a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Irish senior corner back Brian Ball gives a fan a high five during Notre Dame's 38-17 victory over Stanford on
Irish senior corner back Brian Ball gives a fan a high five during Notre Dame's 38-17 victory over Stanford on Sept. 29.

When asked about what it meant to him to be a senior of the team this year, Ball responded that while it’s been an amazing season thus far, the process is still incomplete, and that he’s “looking forward to [continuing] the journey with everyone on the team.”

In fact, the entire last three years have been a process for Ball, and for Notre Dame football as a whole. The senior cornerback feels that what the Irish started putting together two years ago was a huge factor in what they are doing now as the No. 3 team in the country.

Even though the team has earned to right to get excited about its potential this season, Ball said, they still have to continue to work because nothing is yet guaranteed. For Ball, a prime example of that focus paying off was winning the Citrus Bowl over LSU last season — what Ball says was his best memory so far in a Notre Dame uniform.

“That was so much fun,” Ball said. “It was one of the first games we were able to finish, and the experience was surreal getting to celebrate with everyone.”

Ball provided a bit of advice for current and future freshmen who play Notre Dame football: Wherever they came from as high school students, he said, they were probably able to dominate — walk-ons included — but coming here they will automatically start out on the low end of the totem pole and have to constantly work to improve, or they will get exposed.

“Develop a work ethic and come in every day and work harder and harder,” Ball advised.

In explaining everything Notre Dame football has meant to him after his last three years on the team, Ball said the team is a brotherhood, and being able to be close to all his teammates is extremely rewarding.

“You develop friends that you will have for life, and being part of something that is so much bigger than yourself is awesome,” he said. “Notre Dame Football is such a proud tradition throughout the history of sports, and being able to say you are part of this is a blessing.”