ND athletes and ACE sports initiative bring the “Irish Experience” to local youth

Author: Bill Schmitt

Play Like a Champion Today®

A new collaboration between the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and Athletics Department is bringing a new experience to young people in the South Bend area, combining the excitement of Fighting Irish football and the development of life skills that can convey inspiration and success.

The new collaboration, called the Irish Experience League initiative, brings together ACE’s Play Like a Champion Today® (PLC) educational program and the Youth and Community Programs office within Notre Dame Athletics.

The Irish Experience League—a youth flag football league for boys and girls in grades 5 to 8—launched on Sept. 25 at two community locations: the Martin Luther King Center in the Westside neighborhood and Kelly Park in the Northeast neighborhood of South Bend. The free program will continue to take place on Sunday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Registration is required, and the form can be downloaded here.

During five consecutive weeks, the League will host 60-minute flag football games, accompanied by 45-minute sessions exploring Play Like a Champion Today lessons in character development as well as health and life skills. The games and learning opportunities, in both girls’ and boys’ divisions, will feature fun with Notre Dame varsity athletes as they join in the activities.

PLC is known nationally as an initiative of Notre Dame’s ACE program. PLC works primarily with coaches and parents to help students integrate constructive values in their athletic experiences and in their whole lives.

The goal of well-rounded human development among these young people is advanced not only through PLC’s well-respected educational approaches for young people in public and parochial schools alike, but through the compelling messages of Notre Dame Athletics. The key message for young people is the five pillars of success in the Irish Experience—namely, excellence, education, tradition, faith and community.

“We are pleased to be working closely with Notre Dame Athletics on the Irish Experience League—a program that embodies Notre Dame’s mission to turn scholarship into service, especially to the most vulnerable in our community,” says Clark Power, a Notre Dame faculty member and director of Play Like a Champion Today®.

The League’s final session on Oct. 23 (Sunday), will bring the registered participants to the Notre Dame campus for championship games, tailgating and fun for family and friends. Questions can be directed to the Youth and Community Programs office at 574-631-8788.

Under the direction of Kevin Dugan, manager of Youth and Community Programs for Notre Dame Athletics, and with sponsorship and guidance from Power and his colleagues, the League is catalyzing new engagement between diverse segments of the Notre Dame community—faculty, staff and students—and the parents and young people of the South Bend community. More collaborations involving Play Like a Champion Today®, ACE and the Notre Dame Athletics Department are being explored for the future.

PLC has launched a “Champions for Children” initiative with the goal of ensuring that children from all backgrounds can enjoy and grow from enriching sport experiences that engage them physically, but also help them to grow morally and spiritually.

Contact: Bill Schmitt, communications/media Specialist, 574-631-3893, wschmitt@nd.edu