Notre Dame’s latest Leprechaun is a 20-year-old with a deep knowledge of his own Irish roots and the Irish tradition that permeates throughout his university.
Daniel Collins, a 20 year-old from Hamburg New York, will become Notre Dame’s Leprechaun this fall.
On September 5, Collins will don the green suit and become the official mascot to cheer on the Fighting Irish football team for their home opener.
The Leprechaun officially became the university's mascot in 1965, and has since become synonymous with the Fighting Irish.
But Daniel didn’t just shillelagh into the top job. Far from it, to become the gold squad leprechaun (for men's football and basketball - the blue riband sports), Collins first earned his whiskers by being blue squad leprechaun, cheering women’s sports, soccer and men’s hockey.
Not only that, but to become everyone’s favorite elf, Collins had to win the final tryout, a series of tasks to unearth the best person for the job.
“We had several tests for the final tryout. I had to give a speech in front of a crowd, be interviewed by a media personality and react to game-type situations,” Collins told IrishCentral.
Getting the job was a dream come true for the student. “I was so excited. It was a huge honor to represent the university, to represent this amazing place, and to represent the connection that Norte Dame has with Irish heritage.”
Collins himself proudly traces his Irish roots to his namesake Daniel, who came over to the United States with his family in the middle of the 19th century.
“I trace it back to the Collins family in West Cork, in Drimoleague. They came over during the famine, came to Boston and then they traveled to upstate New York.”
Jonette Minton, Cheerleading Program Director and Head Coach at Notre Dame, told IrishCentral why Collins was the right pick.
“He has incredible spirit and energy and he speaks with lots of experience. He has a great love for Notre Dame and a smile that never quits.”
Attending the aforementioned Keough-Naughton School of Irish Studies is something that Collins does not take for granted.
“It is a very unique experience and I am glad that Notre Dame offers this opportunity. We have professors from Ireland who have first-hand experience of some major events in Irish history and it is a great way to learn,” continued Collins. “There is also a great mix between the cultural and academic aspects.”
Collins hopes to put his own mark on his year as official mascot. “I would definitely like to bring more of an Irish aspect to it. Notre Dame has a strong tradition with the Irish Brigade. They place a lot of importance with the green flag in the Irish brigade and I would like to bring that to the athletic side of things.”
Far from being a caricature, Collins sees the leprechaun as a symbol of what is great about Notre Dame, saying that the pride in the Fighting Irish spirit, the underdog mentality and the hard working ethic personifies all that is great about the University.
Best of Luck Danny Boy!