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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

Keanaaina making the most of every situation as he closes in on Senior Day

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Senior defensive lineman Aidan Keanaaina warms up before the Notre Dame-USC football game at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 14.


Senior defensive lineman Aidan Keanaaina has spent all four years of his college career with the Irish. Over the course of those years, Keanaaina has appeared in nine games and tallied 9 tackles. The Brighton, Colo., native answered simply when asked about his decision to attend Notre Dame.

“The people are what brought me here,” he said.

Keanaaina said he appreciates the type of person who attends Notre Dame and he desires to be around individuals who are “always competing to be the best and have the same mindset as I do.”

Speaking about his experiences at Notre Dame and how he has grown as a person and a player, Keanaaina said he has grown through each of the different challenges he has faced during his time in South Bend.

“You start finding new motivations and new 'whys,'" he said. One of the situations that Keanaaina said was crucial to learning how to overcome obstaces was playing under three different defensive coordinators in four years and having to constantly adjust to new coaching and philosophies. While admitting that it was a challenge, he believes it only made him a better player.

"[They’re] very different systems, but they all help build some portion of your toolbelt," Keanaaina said.

While there have been challenges, there have also been plenty of good moments. Some of Keanaaina's most memorable moments in his career came both at the very beginning and very end. He remembers lining up against the first-teamers in practice his freshman year and realizing that college football was the real deal. He also remembers lining up against new freshmen his senior year and realizing how far he has come from being that same wide-eyed newcomer only four years ago. 

Before he runs out of the tunnel for potentially one last time at Notre Dame Stadium, Keanaaina said he expects to feel all the long-lasting memories he has made at Notre Dame. He expects those to be at the forefront of his mind as he takes the field for the last time. Though his career may be winding down, he said he’ll carry those memories with him after his career.

Senior Day is always a difficult one for those players who must say goodbye to their alma mater, and Keanaaina summed up those bittersweet emotions perfectly.

“It’s going to be different, it’s going to be hard and emotional, but it’s something that I’m excited for," he said.

After what will undoubtedly be an emotional day on Saturday, Keanaaina will turn his gaze toward the future. He hopes to work in the healthcare industry, specifically hospital administration, and plans to attend graduate school to pursue his master’s in healthcare administration.