Q&A with Notre Dame’s Leprechaun
NORMAN – Leprechaun Bryce grew up in southern Indiana. He’s been an Irish fan since he was little.
“I was probably brainwashed by my father,” Leprechaun Bryce told The Oklahoman in a phone interview from the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Now, he’s in his final year at the University of Notre Dame. He’s majoring in Science and Business and applying to medical school. Before med school though, he’ll continue to lead Notre Dame fans, alumni and more in cheers and pep rallies. Here, he explains his role as the Leprechaun, what it’s like to being one of the few mascots of a university that can actually speak, what ESPN’s College GameDay is like and how he thinks this weekend wil play out when No. 5 Notre Dame visits No. 7 Oklahoma.
How do you become the Notre Dame Leprechaun?
There’s a three-week tryout that runs concurrently with cheerleading tryouts. The main part of the tryout is public speaking so they’ll kind of put you on the spot. They’ll have all the cheerleaders there and you’ll try out in front of a big audience.
The example we had last year was you’re now in Norman, Okla. And we’re about to play them and we’re about to do a pep rally for the alumni. You have a couple minutes to prepare something and then you go out and give a pep rally or they want to see how you react in an embarrassing situation so I know the one time they put us on the baseline in front of all those people and they turned on ‘Teach Me How To Dougie” and they would kind of point at us to make us come out to the free throw line and dance in front of all of them to see how you react and see how you will come up with things while you speak.
Then on the last day of tryouts, it’s open to the public. You can get all your friends to come. Everyone gets to dress up like a leprechaun. They have old suits and things like that and then you can do a pep rally and a media interview and the Irish jig, a push-up contest and another random situation. After that, you have another interview and they decide that night and post it.
What made you decide to try out to become the Leprechaun?
I’ve always been a Notre Dame fan. I’m only 5-foot-7 and I have red hair and can grow a beard. Even when I was in high school, people told me that I should try out. Then when I got here, I thought I’d give it a try.
What is the job of the Notre Dame Leprechaun?
A lot of people think it’s limited to running around on the sidelines but it actually has a much wider scope than that. I emcee pep rallies that we have here and on the road. We’ll have one when we go to Oklahoma on Friday night. We do community events with the cheerleaders or we’ll go to hospitals or nursing homes. … It’s a wide variety of jobs other than just doing things for athletics.
It seems like it’s more than being a mascot on game day. Why is it like that?
The Leprechaun is part of the cheerleading team but it’s also like an ambassador to the University. So they see us as a way to outreach to the community or when we go places it’s a way for us to be the segue between the University and the fans.
Being a mascot that does speak, do you feel different than most mascots?
Yeah. Sometimes I’ll be in a situation where I’ll be in a situation where I’m around other ones and they can’t even speak to me. They’re just kind of like this animated figure on the sidelines. They give gestures and head nods but I get to talk to people and lead cheers and I guess emcee the pep rallies. It’s a much different type of position being able to speak than not being able to.
What’s your favorite part of game day?
Besides the game, obviously – the games are very exciting, especially this year with the team doing so well; it’s a great time. But I think just connecting with all the fans. They’re so excited to be there. It’s just fun to interact with them and take pictures with them and talk with them. It’s probably the most rewarding part.
Is that what you like outside of game day too?
Yeah, when we go to hospitals and things like that, just being able to connect with those fans and make their day better. It’s a very rewarding part of the job.
How many push-ups can you do?
I can do about 100.
It’s a compilation though so you have to do it every time Notre Dame scores though, don’t you?
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