Before Fighting Irish Leprechaun Daniel Collins headed to San Antonio for this weekend's game, IrishCentral caught up him to get his feedback on the season this far.
IC: Can you describe seven games in, how much your life has changed - on and off the field. Does being the Notre Dame Leprechaun have any unforeseen benefits?
DC:First of all, it is unbelievable to think that I will be the leprechaun for only two more games inside Notre Dame Stadium. I consider it an ultimate privilege and honor to represent Notre Dame in the way that I do. I cannot imagine a better atmosphere to be a part of, a better fan base and student body to share all of the emotions of being a Fighting Irish fan with, or a more determined, ambitious, and exciting football team to follow. This year has been remarkable for me both on and off the field, and my role as the Notre Dame Leprechaun has definitely elevated my outlook on life. We have something special here at Notre Dame, a mystique and an inspirational power that can’t quite be described, but I can definitely feel it from my unique perspective.
I live and die with every play out there, and I invest my full energy into every moment of every game. The emotions I have felt throughout this heart-attack inducing season have been unreal. I have prayed many Hail Marys to myself as each game seems to come down to the final drive, I have laughed, I have cried, and I have loved every second of it.
The greatest benefit that I get out of representing the Fighting Irish in the way that I do comes from knowing that I am contributing to the most legendary tradition in all of college sports. I am truly blessed to be in a position where I get to watch the spirit that drives our tradition come to life right before my eyes when I witness the looks on faces of fans both young and old as they get swept up in the emotions on campus during game day, when I hear the roar of the crowd as they will our team onward to victory, or when our team takes on a true Fighting Irish spirit as they fight to the very end of every game.
IC: What has been the best and worst moment of the season so far for you?
DC: The best and worst moments of the season took place nearly simultaneously for me. A fiercely loyal group of diehard fans and I had been working intensely all week to amp up the energy on campus preceding our rivalry game against Southern Cal. Our efforts were noticed and the anticipation took on a snowball effect which carried everyone into game day atop a roaring wave of emotion. Rocket Ismail reminded everyone at the rally on Friday night that this was “not a game” but “some legendary stuff” was about to take place. He was right, and I will remember that game as a legendary moment for the rest of my life. I came out of that tunnel ready to be all that I could be for Notre Dame, our student section came out wearing green and chanting “Here come the Irish”, and our team came ready to fight. As we fought back within yards of tying the game, the overwhelming emotion of it all washed over me and I cried uncontrollably. They were not tears of sadness, but of amazement and joy as I stood in awe of the power of that moment. When the game ended I was stung with sadness and my tears continued, not out of disappointment but because of pride. That short span of time, during which I felt a strange mixture of great and awful feelings all at once, was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
IC: Your take on the spirit in the team right now?
DC: This team is full of true Fighting Irishmen. They are determined to make a statement about Notre Dame Football. They refuse to give in “what though the odds be great or small” and they have taken it upon themselves to bring Notre Dame back to its rightful place on top of the football world. They continue to get better every week, and there is no doubt that they are a team on the rise. A new driving force propels them forward with a feeling that nothing less than perfection is acceptable. They will not stop until they reach their goal, and this time it’s personal.
IC: What message have you to send to Irish fans?
DC: Enjoy every moment that you spend as a fan of the greatest tradition in existence. Soak it all in, and let yourself get swept away by the Notre Dame Spirit. So many people forget what it is like to truly live in the moment. The most important lesson that I have taken away from my position as the Leprechaun is that living in the moment with love and appreciation in your heart will feed you with an energy and a perspective that you may not have known you were capable of achieving. When it is all said and done, I hope that I have shared that lesson with as many of our loyal fans as possible. GO IRISH!