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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

2021-2022 Notre Dame leprechauns inspire Irish, spread joy

Each of the four students chosen to be part of the “Leprechaun Class of 2020-21” had a different journey leading them to be a part of the team, but they are alike in their love of sharing joy and excitement with the Notre Dame community.

Pat Johnson

As the eldest member of the leprechauns, Pat Johnson has taken a leadership role on the team. Johnson was a part of Notre Dame’s cheer team for two years before he became a leprechaun during the 2020-2021 season.

Johnson said his duties as a leprechaun are being on the sidelines for home and away football games, men’s basketball games and other miscellaneous events. One of his favorite parts of the job, he said, is being able to experience the sidelines.

“I’m very grateful to be in the role that I am,” Johnson said. “Especially like the fans that come out every game and make so much noise — you guys rock; keep doing it. We need you, the players need you and you make Notre Dame what it is.”

Although he cherishes his time in the costume, Johnson said he is very excited to pass the honored role on to the next class of Notre Dame leprechauns.

“Next year, there’s going to be another great guy or gal in green leading the charge, and they’re going to do great. So, it’s kind of nice that you pass it on,” he said.

Johnson graduated from the University in May 2021 and is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in management after graduating with majors in marketing and film, television and theater. After graduation, he plans to build a career in the media and entertainment industry.

Alex Sampson

Alex Sampson has been a part of Notre Dame’s cheer team for his entire career at the University.

He said he originally auditioned when he was a senior in high school and begged his mom to drive him up to Notre Dame for the tryouts.

“I really wanted to try something I’d never done before and see what it did to me as a person,” Sampson said. “The Tuesday before tryouts, I was like, ‘Hey, Mom, will you drive me up to [Notre Dame] today?’”

Although both his cheer and leprechaun tryouts were on a whim, Sampson said his time doing both have been one of his favorite parts of his time as an undergraduate.

“It was really exciting to be around everyone who is obviously so passionate about Notre Dame,” he said. “It’s been one of the biggest parts of my college experience and definitely the part I value the most.”

Sampson is the leprechaun for a multitude of different sports, currently including soccer, volleyball and hockey. He also participates in other events around campus, such as orientations and alumni gatherings.

Sampson said that as a leprechaun, he’s always ready to do more to interact and spread happiness within the community.

“I love being a symbol of community outreach, and I love having that ability to connect with people even when I’m not in my suit,” he said. “It’s always about what can I do more for this community, for this experience and for these people.”

A senior this year, Sampson will be graduating in the spring with a dual degree in business analytics and business technology from the Mendoza College of Business.

Sophie Bouldoukian

As only the second female to ever hold the role of Notre Dame’s leprechaun, Sophie Bouldoukian is making sure she isn’t forgotten.

Bouldoukian first tried out to be the leprechaun during the spring 2021 semester. She said tryouts were a long process, which included three main parts: a written application with a one-minute video, an in-person audition in front of a crowd and a huge tryout in the crowd of the Blue-Gold game.

The most memorable part of the process, she said, was during the improv portion of the audition.

“You had to do an improv skit that was two minutes long, but they gave you the prompt four minutes before you went out there. So, you kind of just had to pull something together really fast,” Bouldoukian said. “I acted like I was Nicki Minaj and rapped the lyrics of the fight song.”

According to Bouldoukian, being a leprechaun has made her appreciate Notre Dame more than before.

“I’ve already been in love with this school for forever, and this just makes me appreciate it so much more,” she said. “I get to represent our campus when I wear the suit, and everyone that loves the school in general.”

Bouldoukian, who is a junior science-business major with a minor in theology, said she will try out again and hopes to be chosen for next year as well.

Gabriel Ramos

Like Johnson, this is Ramos’ second year as a Notre Dame leprechaun.

Ramos said he tried out last year not expecting to be chosen, but because he loves to perform and entertain crowds.

“I thought my first go-around was really going to be just to get in front of the coaches — see how it went because I knew there was going to be a lot of other qualified candidates,” he said. “I was lucky enough to get into an in-person tryout and then get selected — and I’ve never turned back ever since.”

Ramos will get a chance to be on the football sidelines Halloween weekend against UNC, but he mainly works women’s basketball and volleyball.

He said that although the leprechauns have certain assignments, they all work as a team to cover different games.

Because Ramos is an anthropology and pre-health major, he said he is lucky to be a part of a flexible team that helps him manage his large class workload and leprechaun duties.

“We’ll also sub [games] and play for each other because really what it comes down to is we’re a team, the four of us,” he said. “We take care of each other and if somebody needs it, we will obviously take a game.”

After graduating in the spring, Ramos plans to head to medical school with a future goal of being a pediatrician.

“Being an advocate for seeing and hearing others, and also just accompanying them in their joys and their sorrows, that’s a large part of what I’ve gotten out of being leprechaun,” he said. “That’s going to help me be a good doctor to somebody one day, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that insight and experience.”