Want to support the team and share their experience in Ireland? St. Norbert is arranging a tour package
that includes admission to both the Notre Dame vs. Navy and St. Norbert vs. John Carroll games, practice sessions and sightseeing tours.
Football team goes international
The Green Knights will open the 2012 football season with their longest road trip ever – more than 3,500 miles – to participate in the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT). They’ll be in good company in Dublin, with Notre Dame taking on Navy in GIFT’s headline matchup.
St. Norbert will face John Carroll University on Aug. 31, 2012, in only the second NCAA Division III football game ever played in Europe. Several other American college and high school teams also will participate in GIFT, and all players will receive tickets to the Sept. 1, 2012, Notre Dame-Navy game.
“This will provide a wonderful cultural and educational experience for our student-athletes,” says football coach Jim Purtill. “It’s also a great opportunity to reach out to our families and alumni. I would like to see a big group from St. Norbert over there. I would be thrilled if we could get 500.”
Purtill expects the game to have a positive effect on recruiting for the next two freshman football classes. The trip comes on the heels of two other exciting developments for the football program: the new Schneider Stadium, which opened in 2010, and new stadium locker rooms opening this fall.
“Now we can package this game along with the quality of the school, the program and our facilities,” he says. “I expect an increase in our squad size. For those recruits that have us in their top five or six choices, we have automatically jumped up to the top two or three. Besides the experience for those making the trip, it provides positive visibility for the college.”
Ed Lamm (Enrollment Management and Communications) says he is hopeful that the game will increase awareness of St. Norbert among international students. It could also attract students from closer to home, he adds.
“I believe one of the high school teams that will be playing in Dublin is from Chicago,” Lamm says. “We have a large student population from the Chicago area. We could see an increase in applications from all the exposure surrounding the game.”
Ireland is one of 38 countries represented in the college’s study-abroad program. Spending a semester abroad is sometimes difficult for student-athletes, says Lamm, so he is thankful for this experience for the players.
“We try to work with the student-athletes with exchange programs because we want that option to be available to them,” he says. “This is an opportunity for all involved to get a taste of the Irish culture.”
The mission of GIFT is to bring American football to Dublin. Purtill says it’s an honor for the Green Knights to represent the sport. Balancing sightseeing with preparations for the game may be the biggest challenge for players, he adds.
“I want to let them enjoy the experience, but we also want to win the game,” Purtill says. “I think I’m going to try to grab 10 minutes with Coach (Mike) McCarthy. This is not on the level of the Super Bowl, but maybe he can share some tips.”
Green Knight football fans can follow GIFT on Facebook and view a press conference announcing the tournament berth.
And for those who would like to go along, the college is arranging a tour package that includes round-trip airfare from Chicago, four nights in Dublin, and admission to the GIFT game, practice sessions and the Emerald Isle Classic.
April 5, 2011