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Notre Dame Fighting Irish announce the three new Leprechaun mascots for the 2019-2020 seasons

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Seems like they’re sending a message here.

Texas v Notre Dame
Leprechaun in 2015
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

The cheerleading program for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish announced their selections for the Leprechauns for the 2019-2020 seasons on Tuesday. They went about diverse as they could get, and are very proud of that fact.

The three Leprechauns are:

Sam Jackson

Jackson is the first African-American Leprechaun since the FIRST African-American Leprechaun, Mike Brown (2001). He’s got a performance background with one of his two majors being Film, Television, and Theatre.

“It’s a really amazing feeling. When I first came here, I was a big Notre Dame fan, but I didn’t have the history or legacy that my friends did. Being able to make my own experiences and memories here at this University and to be able to represent it — especially as a senior — is just the best feeling. I feel like I have solidified my presence and voice, and am now etching it into the very fabric of the University.”

Lynette Wukie

Lynette is the first ever woman Leprechaun. She also has the right type of background as a captain of her high school cheerleading and dance squads as well as majoring in Film, Television, and Theatre at Notre Dame.

“I talked about being a role model (during the tryout process) because even through high school and into college, it’s always been important to me to be someone people can look up to. I think I hadn’t (yet) found that thing, like I wasn’t fulfilling my true purpose here to be that face and that role model, so when this opportunity came about I thought it was destiny. This is what I’m meant to be doing. My rector told me, ‘Little girls are going to want to be you,’ so to be that role model for young women is really special.”

Conal Fagan

Conal is the lone returning veteran Leprechaun in this group. He is a native of the Emerald Isle, hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland. He’s a Political Science and Peace Studies major, that wants to combine his passion for sports with social justice.

“I’m really honored to be back. When I first took up the leprechaun role, I didn’t know how much I would be excited by it and invested in it because back home mascots and cheerleading isn’t really a thing. Coming here and experiencing it first-hand is such a special thing to me and I think people can see that as well. Every time I put the suit on, it feels like I’m Superman or something, so it’s pretty special.”

SENDING A MESSAGE

Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into these selections, but in this day and age it’s hard NOT to look at these three as a statement to the country of inclusivity and social equality. We live in very political times that, quite frankly, have divided the country. While all three are absolutely deserving of their positions, their diversity can not and should not be overlooked as Notre Dame strives to continue in the footsteps of Father Ted Hesburgh.

It seems kind of silly that it took this long as the leprechaun has been the official mascot since 1965, but change often times comes very, very slowly. It reminds me of this exchange from NBC’s West Wing in 2003:

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet : German thinker Max Weber said that politics is the “slow boring of hard boards and that anyone who seeks to do it must risk his own soul”. You know what that means?

Abbey Bartlet : I like how you think that patronizing me is going to make me feel better. It’s sweet.

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet : It means that change comes in excruciating increments for those who want it. You’re trying to move mountains. It takes lifetimes. But Zoey Bartlet is the newest Daughter of the American Revolution so I like our chances for the long run.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve been thinking about Pulp Fiction since reading the news release. Just replace Brett saying “what” with “Go Blue,” and Jules saying “Marsellus Wallace” with “Fighting Irish.”

Sorry... I can’t stop. Go Irish!

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