On this fine Wednesday of Michigan Sucks Week, I'd like to share one of my favorite football home game weekend traditions!
There are a lot of pep rallies held at Notre Dame, but the Dillon Hall pep rally is not your ordinary pep rally!
Rally photo courtesy of gameday.nd.edu.
The Dillon Hall pep rally began approximately 40 years ago. It is traditionally held the Thursday before the first home game (although in 2010 the pep rally was moved from it's traditional Thursday night, to the Friday night of the first home football game weekend).
In the early years of the Dillon Hall pep rally, it was held in the Dillon courtyard that faces South Dining Hall. But as it's popularity grew, the stage was moved to accommodate a bigger audience. Now it is held in front of Dillon Hall on South Quad.
Historically, the Dillon Hall pep rally was an event primarily designed by the students, for the students. Unlike the other pep rallies, which are usually held in the Joyce Center, the Dillon Hall pep rally was not advertised to the public, and did not include the entire football team and cheerleaders.
Instead, the Dillon Hall pep rally featured humorous sketches and skits, some of which (over the years) drew complaints for being offensive. It was held on Thursday nights because it was designed to be a student only pep rally, and not something that the alumni and fans were invited to. It typically had a storyline, including little skits about Notre Dame, and skits about the world at large, that were acted out to entertain the entire campus. Integrated into this basic design, special guest speakers were also invited to speak at the pep rally. These special guests would typically include the football coach, the safety-enthusiast Officer Tim McCarthy, and the football players who resided in Dillon Hall ... including two of my all-time favorites: Tony Rice and Brady Quinn. There were also usually appearances made by the drum line, cheerleaders, pom squad and the leprechaun.
This particular pep rally was, and still is, used as a bonding tool for the freshmen, because it is only held the first football weekend. It is a fantastic use of the Notre Dame student community, which manages to extend Freshmen Orientation and reinforce the idea of dorm unity and bonding.
In 2010 the pep rally was moved to the Friday night of the first football weekend, and replaced the usual Joyce Center pep rally held on that night. As a result of this, the skits had to be adapted a bit so that they appealed to a much broader audience, but hopefully the new format did not feel any different to the students. The freshmen were still seated in the front row, with the students directly behind them.
The Dillon Hall pep rally just has a special buzz about it. It is a shining example of what the dorm community life at Notre Dame is all about.
If you ever get a chance to catch the Dillon Hall pep rally, I highly recommend it ... it is a fantastic glimpse into the student life at Notre Dame!
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