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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

2022-23 leprechauns talk journeys to leading Notre Dame fans

The Fighting Irish welcome four new leprechauns for the 2022-2023 year. Seniors Jake House and Jamison Cook, junior Ryan Coury and sophomore Colin Mahoney were selected. All four will be entering the role for the first time. The new Leprechauns reflected on their paths to the green suit and their hopes for the year.  

Ryan Coury

Coury did not think he would one day be the Fighting Irish mascot.

Coury grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, “bleeding gold and blue,” he said. His parents both attended Notre Dame, and he remembers singing along to the fight song with his dad every Saturday.

During his sophomore year, Coury worked for Fighting Irish media as a cameraman. He loved capturing the students’ excitement at games, and he was inspired by the role that past leprechauns have played in bringing energy to the crowd.

“I realized, man, it’s a lot easier to hype up a crowd without a camera on your shoulder,” Coury said. 

After hearing about the tryouts from friends on the cheer team, Coury decided to apply “kind of on a whim,” he said.

“In my mind, being a leprechaun was always a dream, but never something that I thought was a possible reality,” Coury said. “But the moment I realized it was on the table, I went for it.”

All four leprechauns volunteer at other events to engage the Notre Dame fanbase. His favorite part of the job, though, is being a part of a team and working with the other leprechauns.

“We are not only leprechauns ourselves, we are part of the cheer team,” Coury said. “Having those people behind you and with you at everything — it's electric.”

Coury is a finance major with a real estate minor, and he plans to pursue sports business or real estate after graduation. On campus, Coury is the vice president of Dillon Hall and works as a tour guide for the admissions office. 

“At the core of what we do as leprechauns, we are ambassadors for the University. We are representing what [Notre Dame] stands for,” Coury said. “That’s something huge for me.” 

Jamison Cook

Unlike Coury, Cook did not grow up in a Notre Dame family, but that does not diminish his passion for Fighting Irish sports. 

Cook wanted to be a leprechaun to showcase his love for Notre Dame athletics. 

“You don't have to be a lifelong fan to do something like this,” Cook said. “I wanted to share how much I have come to love Notre Dame on my own.”

Cook tried out for the leprechaun position three times before making the team his senior year. The tryout process involves a written application, a video application and in-person events and interviews.

“I think it's pretty rigorous,” Cook said.

Eight to ten applicants are selected to participate in the in-person events. Over the course of three days, Cook and his fellow leprechauns led a mock pep rally, conducted a mock media interview and worked as the leprechaun at the Blue and Gold spring game. They were also interviewed by a panel of judges from the athletics department.

“If I'm completely honest, I don't think I would have wanted to be a mascot if I was at a different school where you had to wear a big head or a mask,” Cook said.

He said he enjoys the creativity of being a “mouthpiece” for the university rather than a faceless mascot.

“I think that that's something that the four of us really take very seriously but also have a lot of fun with,” Cook said. “We're kind of the impersonation of what the Fighting Irish is.”

Cook is studying marketing and journalism, and he is originally from Eerie, Pennsylvania. Cook is currently recruiting for a career in brand management.

“I think [being the leprechaun] kind of gives me a unique perspective, especially for the field that I'm going into conveniently,” Cook said. “I’m very much living the Notre Dame brand and trying to bring it to life for people.”

Colin Mahoney

Mahoney believes the power of the leprechaun extends far beyond excitement at games.

“I think the leprechaun certainly has a presence on campus and has the resources and capabilities to be a force for good,” he said.

Mahoney hails from a family of farmers in Omaha, Nebraska. He was not originally committed to Notre Dame, but he switched his deposit at 11:45 p.m. the night of the deadline, partly because of the opportunity to be a leprechaun.

“I think very early on, I bought into the mission of the University,” Mahoney said. “Ultimately, I want to be a servant for others, and I think that's what led me to Notre Dame.”

His favorite part of the job is when he gets to see a “tangible result.” Mahoney recently visited St. Adalbert Elementary School in South Bend to interact with young Irish fans. He was handing out high fives before the kids decided to hug him instead.

“That certainly felt good, because I left feeling like I had made those kids' days better and hopefully gave them a memory that will last them a lifetime,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney lives in Duncan Hall and is majoring in finance and Spanish. He plans to pursue investment banking after graduation. 

Jake House

“The leprechaun is so special because you’re not in a mask, you get to see people face to face … and let them know that they are welcome … showing that Notre Dame is a place for everyone,” senior Jake House said. 

A romance languages and literature major originally from White Lake, Michigan, House said that he “grew up a fan of other colleges, and [Notre Dame] just wasn’t on my radar.”

“I applied to Notre Dame a few days before the application was due, because a friend mentioned it. I never really thought of it as a place for me, but I came for a visit and that first sight of the Golden Dome, you know, just walking around campus … you just get this different feel like, ‘Oh, this isn’t just a place to go to school, this is a family,’” House said.

House recalled a story from his freshman year which put him on the path to becoming the iconic Irish fighter.

“I transferred here from Holy Cross as a Gateway student, and I was a little lost one day and Leprechaun Conal [Fagan, class of 2021] came up to me and helped point me in the right direction, asked if I was doing okay and everything,” he said.

House continued, “I just felt so special because the Leprechaun talked to me and helped me out, and the chance to give that to other people, to make other people feel that way … I think it’s a gift, it’s really indescribable.”

A resident of Dunne Hall, House spoke on his previous high school experience that helped him grow into a student leader.

“I was class president in high school so I was always trying to get people to go out to events and be excited, but I was never a cheerleader or a mascot, it wasn’t my official title,” House said.

House then spoke on the community surrounding the University, saying, “Notre Dame isn’t just the students who go here, Notre Dame is the outreach to the South Bend community, it’s the alumni of course and just fans all over the place.”

House continued, “Notre Dame can sometimes feel like a bubble, it isn’t just the kids on campus bound by SR 933, Angela, Twyckenham and Douglas, it’s also Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. The Notre Dame Leprechaun to me is about welcoming people,” House said. 

To conclude the conversation, in true Fighting Irish fashion, House had one final statement: “Go Irish!” 

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