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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer


Notre Dame’s first female football leprechaun: Getting her shot


History is about to be made in the House that Rockne Built. This weekend’s matchup against Pittsburgh will mark the first Notre Dame Football game featuring a female Leprechaun.Kylee Kazenski (‘24) began her tenure as one of the students portraying the Irish mascot in April of 2023 when her spirited tryout won her a position on the Notre Dame Cheerleading Team. Since then, she has spent most of her fall semester championing the Notre Dame Men’s Soccer Team, a squad that is currently ranked third in the country. And now, the senior will be taking her turn on the turf this Saturday.Traditionally, seniors who portray the role of the Leprechaun are each given the opportunity to do so at a football game in their final season as an undergraduate. This weekend, Kazenski will be in the suit for the whole nine yards: Victory March to Alma Mater.

“This is yet another milestone showing that the role of the Leprechaun is versatile,” fourth-year computer science major Kazenski told me as we talked about the upcoming game. “I’m extremely honored and excited to make the appearance at the game.”

Four female students have donned the green suit as the Notre Dame Leprechaun, the first being Lynnette Wukie (‘21), in addition to Sophie Bouldoukian (‘23) and current Leprechaun McKenna Englhardt (‘26). This weekend will be the first time that a member of this female cohort leads Notre Dame’s Football team down the stadium’s north tunnel to take the field.I think Lynnette Wukie said it best in her first interview to become a Leprechaun: she wanted to show that anyone can do anything, and I think that speaks leaps and bounds to what everyone who is portraying the Leprechaun is trying to accomplish.Wukie and Bouldoukian both served as Leprechauns in years prior, but Wukie served as Notre Dame’s in-stadium host during her senior year and Bouldoukian was Leprechaun as a junior, making Kazenski the first to appear at a football game. 

“I want to give back to Notre Dame in a unique way while also embodying the ideals of the University,” Kazenski told me ahead of the game this Saturday. “Being part of such a large family is what stands out to me … we are all coming together in that united mission.”

A lifelong Notre Dame fan, Pasquerilla East’s senior fellow holds herself to the highest standard and understands the significance of the role she portrays.“To me, portraying the Leprechaun is spreading the spirit of Notre Dame deeper than just the joy of sport, but also in community and respect,” the Illinois native Kazenski added. “First and foremost, our duties lie in unifying the energy and spirit of the Notre Dame community, but also having that extra layer of inspiring other girls and widening the lens of the Leprechaun is just so special.”If you’re lucky, you can find the senior Leprechaun in suit more often than usual this weekend, as she will be portraying the character at four games for four different athletic teams in the coming days.As for this weekend’s football game, Notre Dame will kick off against Pittsburgh at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and the game will be streamed on NBC/Peacock.

Ryan Coury

University of Notre Dame Leprechaun


Oct. 26

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.