Interhall Football at Notre Dame
2009 Siegfried Seniors Top: Dex Cure and Chris Holland, Bottom: Tom Pappas, Adam Matthews, and Mike DesJardins
2009 Siegfried Coach PJ Zimmer and Captain Dex Cure
Interview with Siegfried Captain Dex Cure:
Dex was the captian of the 2009 interhall champion Siegfried football team. He began his football career at Notre Dame as a walk-on for 2 years on the varsity team and decided to quit in favor of interhall football.  He was a standout linebacker and fullback in high school in Wray, CO and was recruited to play football by several small colleges.  He turned down the offers in favor of attending the University of Notre Dame.  I sat down with Dex to learn what attracted him to interhall football:

Q: Why did you play interhall football rather than continuing to play varsity football for Notre Dame:?
A: The reduced time commitment and the prospect of playing with the people I live with was impossible to pass up.

Q: Why did you play through injury and severe pain? (Dex injured his shoulder in the middle of the season which forced him to sit out at practice but he continued to play in games and lead the team to its second straight championship)
A: The pain of not being there for a team that counted on me was greater than any pain my shoulder caused me.

Q: Did playing interhall football say anything about your masculinity and what it means to be a man?
A: Being able to intimidate and dominate opponents physically definitely leaves one with a feeling of masculine supremacy.

Q: What did you enjoy more, interhall football or varsity football?
A: Being a walk-on was tough. I was beat up in practice every day by guys like Victor Abiamiri [who starts at defensive end with the Philadelphia Eagles]. I did not see the playing field on game days and was rarely ever acknowledged or rewarded for my efforts. Interhall football was much more enjoyable and probably a better experience. I was able to excel in this league which made me feel like I was more at home in interhall. This program is central to the Notre Dame spirit that engulfs all of our experiences here. We put a lot of work into it and are extremely competitive with it, but the rewards are endless.

Interview with Knott Quarterback Aidan Fitzgerald:
Senior Aidan Fitzgerald led the Knott Juggernauts to the semifinals of the playoffs after having his own plans of playing varsity football torn apart by injury and more seriously cancer. I interviewed him about his experience and how Knott viewed the program:

Q: Why did you play interhall football?
A: I played Interhall football to continue competitive, contact football. I planned to try out for the varsity team, and interhall was a chance to continue practicing at a relatively fast pace (compared to flag football). My walk-on aspirations were sidelined twice, however. Once due to my cancer, and the other due to a torn MCL and high ankle sprain suffered during an interhall game.

Q: Did it influence your decision to come to Notre Dame?
A: It had no impact on my decision to attend Notre Dame.

Q: Did you play through any nagging or serious injuries? If so why?
A: I have two torn ligaments in my shoulder from a high school injury which I played through. I suffered a torn MCL and a high grade, high ankle sprain. I continued playing because I love having a competitive release, and football had always been one of those releases.

Q: Did you feel like you were able to display your masculinity on the field?
A: I do. I feel that it gave me a unique ability not afforded to me elsewhere on campus.

Q: Tell me about Knott; how often did you practice? Were there any team rules? What were the backgrounds of the students who played?
A: We practiced 2 to 3 times a week for about 1.5-2 hours. We didn't have any explicit rules regarding drinking, but we encouraged each other not to do so on Saturday night. And if you've ever tried to play football while hungover, you probably will never try to do so again. And we probably had 2-3 people with offers. I myself  had a couple Division I, D I-AA offers. All and all we had some pretty talented guys.

Personal Experience:
Interhall football played a small part in my decsion to come to Notre Dame.  My father played inter-hall football his freshman year of college and I heard all the stories about the program.  He would tell me how he had to keep his pants up with duct tape and how his team never won a game.  I always felt like I could show him up.  I skipped the first day of tryouts freshman year because I did not believe that I had a chance to make the team since I did not play high school football and there were almost 50 players going out for the 24 spots.  I was told by dormmates that there was not very many lineman trying out for the team and that I would have a shot to make the team.  I ended up getting selected to play for the team, but in the second game of the season, I cracked a rib and was told I could not play the rest of the season by doctors.  The next year I tried out again, but was cut because the coach feared I would get hurt again.  My junior year I was cut again because the team was overloaded with talent (that was the first year that Siegfried won the championship).  My senior year was my last shot.  I tried out fully expecting to get cut again, but I made the team and helped the team win the championship as a starting defensive end.  I, like Dex and Aidan, also played through an injury to my shoulder that continues to bother me to this day.  I continued to play because I hated the feeling that I got freshman year when I told the team I could not play anymore.  The response from the team was hurtful as my masculinity was challenged because I quit due to what was perceived to be a minor injury.  The path to the championship was not an easy one, but it allowed me to redeem myself.  Sure there existed several motivations such as playing football with my friends and playing in Notre Dame Stadium, but I played because I felt like I had something to prove.  I felt like I could play at the level that the players of interhall football required and I wanted to show that. 

As mentioned above, many interhall football players play through injuries (Aidan played with a torn MCL and high ankle sprain, Dex played with a shoulder that frequently popped out of socket)
Players play knowing that injury is a frequent occurence in the program (one interhall player broke his femur, a Morrissey player tore his ACL on the first day of tryouts and remained with the team on a scooter to coach them, another Siegfried player shattered the bones in his middle finger that required surgery which has not completley healed and is guaranteed to cause him to suffer from arthritis in that finger)
Both Knott and Siegfried practices 3 sometimes 4 times a week for 1.5-2 hours (a considerable amount of time for a college student)
As a team rule, Siegfried players are not allowed to consume alcohol the day before an interhall game (a difficult rule to follow considering tailgating the varsity game on the Saturday before is a very popular activity on campus)
South Bend weather: November practices were commonly run under snow or cold rain in temperatures hovering near freezing

Motivation as suggested by several Interhall Football Participants:
The chance to play in Notre Dame Stadium
The chance to play tackle football again after high school
The love of football including its strategies and violent nature
Stay in Shape
Happy Keenan Football Player Grasping onto the Interhall Championship Trophy after the 2004 Championship Game