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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Assaf takes on dual-athlete grind at Notre Dame

Sam Assaf was not supposed to play football at Notre Dame, or football at all. Rather, Assaf played lacrosse at Amherst and transferred to Notre Dame with full intentions of continuing to play lacrosse. This was until the spring of his sophomore year, when his brother Mick Assaf convinced him to try out for the football team. 

“I came here with all intentions of playing lacrosse, but as I got here my sophomore spring I got really bored of not being on a team and then figured why not try out for football,” Assaf said. “I was like the worst thing happens, I get cut, and I didn’t want to wait until the fall to try out for lacrosse.”

After getting a spot on the football team, Assaf looked to lacrosse.

“I tried to talk to the [lacrosse] coach. He said he needed someone in my position, literally just needed another body in practice. Ended up trying out for them in the middle of their preseason and made it,” Assaf said.

Even though Assaf was excited about the opportunity, being a dual-sport athlete at Notre Dame is not an easy task

“Last spring was probably the most tiring thing in my life. Like 5:30 a.m. workout and 8 p.m. practices with lacrosse everyday,” said Assaf. “But, you know, it’s an honor to play both [sports] here and prep both teams on scout teams and continue to work. It’s cool to do something like that.”

On top of all of his athletic endeavors, Assaf is very involved academically. He is working on a major in economics with a concentration in financial econ and econometrics. Additionally, he has minors in data science and classical studies. Assaf is not done academically or athletically with the Irish. He is returning for a fifth year to pursue a masters in business analytics with a concentration in sports analytics.

Assaf is also involved in WOPU (Walk On Players Union). He says that it’s where he met most of his friends. 

“[WOPU] accepted me right away as soon as that first spring ball practice happened my sophomore spring. It’s just awesome to have that culture inside, that little almost mini team inside the team. Of people who go through very similar things as you, [you] can reach out to, talk to,” said Assaf. “Living in the WOPU house for two years is a lot of fun. I got really close with a lot of cool seniors last year and living in it again with some seniors this year is a lot of fun. Me, [Chase] Ketterer and [Chris Velotta] Skip are, you know, couldn’t be closer and walk-on running backs together.”

Their closeness proved true when Ketterer notched a tackle against Navy last year.

“I mean it’s unreal. You literally couldn’t be happier,” said Assaf on his friend’s play. “We all know what we go through during the week, which just about no one else goes through. But, you know, that first defense and second defense really beat our a** … So, just being able to see someone who goes through the same things as all of us, and someone else being able to thrive in the game, all that pay off, in front of all those fans, and do something really on the real field, it’s awesome.”

Contact Olivia Schatz at