March 29, 2000

by Gene Brtalik

Before the start of every home game at Notre Dame, the Irish men’s lacrosse team takes the field an hour prior to the contest for warm-ups. While the team runs through its pre-game drills, music blares from the pressbox onto the field.

The warm-up tape is an important part of the ritual before every game for head coach Kevin Corrigan’s squad. A majority of the music is rock and heavy metal, but there is one track on the tape that doesn’t seem “in tune” to the rest of the music. Midway through the tape, one hears the lyrics and the strumming of an acoustic guitar to the song – Thank God I’m A Country Boy – by the late pop vocalist John Denver.

The combination of heavy metal and country may seem rather odd, but to the Irish lacrosse squad its just a reflection of the individuality of the sport.

If the Irish were to break from the Denver song mixed in with the metal, a more approprate songe this year would The Pointer Sisters’ -We Are Family. The 2000 edition of Notre Dame lacrosse is one of the closest in recent seasons. The closeness starts with the commarderie and loyalty to the program of two of its senior captains – Steve Fiamingo and Patrick Darcy.

Prior to the start of this season, Fiamingo, questioned his desire to return after playing a limited in his first three campaigns. The closeness of the team and the special bond it has made it hard for him to leave. The Cincinnati, Ohio native, now a starter on defense, is being rewarded for his hard work and dedication.

For Darcy, the team is an extension of family. When the Rockeville Center, N.Y. native’s younger brother died unexpectedly last summer, teammates, past and present, came from all over the country to attend the funderal and to be there to support him and his family.

Both were elected captains, along with Kevin Higgins and Kirk Howell, by a vote of their teammates. While neither Fiamingo and Darcy had played prominent roles, it was obvious that their selection by teammates was a testament to their leadership both on and off the field.

“It’s hard to wait for your moment, but you just need to have the attitude to make the guys around you betterr” Fiamingo says. “Throughout my first three years, I just kept telling myself that one day I would get my chance.”

Adds Darcy, ” I am not out working hard, then the rest of the players will follow my example and not give 100 percent. Fiamingo calls Darcy one of the team’s strongest movtivators because he pushes everyone to their potential each day in practice. Darcy’s dedication and loyalty may be unparrelleled on the team. Many times, he could have walked away and become frustrated, but instead, he has been an inspiration and his love for the game has never been questioned.

In his first two seasons, he watched All-American Alex Cade dazzle fans in goal. Then as the battle for starting goalie heated up in the fall of 1998, he once again was in the familiar position of watching from the bench as current Irish goalie Kirk Howell won the job.

While may would have walked away, Darcy didn’t. It wouldn’t have been his style. His love for the game has never been more evident. “I owe it to my teammates to go out and give it my all,” Darcy says. “When they elected me captain, it showed how much I have done for this team. I always have to me ready because circumstances may force me into the lineup during a game.”

“Darcy has a tremendous attitude,” Corrigan says. “He works extremely hard, and he gives of himself to make this team successful.” Fiamingo was in a simlar position to Darcy during his first three years. He had watched from the sidelines and learned the Notre Dame defense as it bullied the opposing teams. He made appearances only in man-down situations. He contemplated returning to the team for his senior year, but the decision to come back has proved beneficial for both he and his team. A vocal leader, he is parting of the Irish starting lineup on defense.

“Steve is the main communicator on our defense,” Corrigan says. “He helps set everything up and makes sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be.

Fiamingo and Darcy are anxious for a return to the NCAA tournament and look forward to making a third trip in their fourth and final season. As the two prepare to finish their careers, both agree that coming to Notre Dame was one of the best decisions they ever made.

They have shown the importance of teamwork and dedication – crucial components as the Irish look to secure another NCAA tounament bid.