Editor’s Note: Mike McGlinchey (’17) was a two-time Notre Dame captain, a consensus All-American during his fifth year and top-10 NFL Draft choice in 2018. Now a rookie member of the San Francisco 49ers, McGlinchey penned the following Senior Day reflection addressed to his former teammates.
Senior Day is one of my greatest memories from my five years at Notre Dame. It’s an extremely special day filled with a great deal of emotion, pride and love for Notre Dame. It’s a day of celebration for all that the players and team have accomplished over their respective careers at the most prestigious University and football program in the world.
It’s the last time that each player will be able to play in Notre Dame Stadium, and each senior is honored, one by one, in front of all the Notre Dame family alongside the people who truly helped us get to that point in our lives and careers. The parents and loved ones of the players are able to celebrate at midfield and soak in running out of the tunnel for the last time.
It’s the culmination of a player’s career at Notre Dame and the moment of hearing Mike Collins introduce you for the last time out of the tunnel is a memory that all the players will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
I remember being asked during a press conference early in the week leading up to Senior Day about what it would feel like to play at Notre Dame for the last time. It was funny because I made an effort that week to try my best not to think about the emotions that would take place before the game. I had a job to do against Navy and wanted to make sure nothing stopped us from winning against the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, that was not possible for me.
Notre Dame, and playing for Notre Dame, meant the world to me, and knowing that my last game at home was right around the corner was a tough pill to swallow. All week I tried to think back about all the memories and friends that I made over my time at Notre Dame. It just made the game, and moment of Senior Day, that much more special.
Notre Dame is what it is because of the people who make up the Fighting Irish family. I was extremely fortunate to have met and befriended some of the best members during my five years, and I spent the week thinking about how to make those people proud one last time.
Game day finally came after a long week of preparation. I tried to stick with my normal warm-up routine, but I was definitely more anxious and nervous to get the game going. I put on my uniform and got ready to play. I remember Coach Kelly calling up the seniors in order, and my name was called to be announced last. So, one by one, each of the seniors lined up in the tunnel and slapped the Play Like A Champion Today sign for the last time as a Notre Dame football player, and proceeded down to the main tunnel.
We started hearing our names called and I was composed until towards the end. I started to cry when I heard the names of my two best friends and teammates called and saw them run to their families. And then it came time for me.
Mike Collins called out for the last time, “…and the kid from Philly!” I hugged Coach Kelly, looked up to see my mom crying at midfield and lost control of my emotion. All the memories, pride and love I have for Notre Dame hit me at once and I ran to hug my mom so proud of what I had accomplished here. I’ll remember that until the end of my days.
As this Senior Day approaches, I urge every one of the Notre Dame players, past or present, to reflect with great pride on playing for the Blue and Gold. It’s the greatest honor any football player will experience. It’s the most incredible school, with the most incredible people, and to have had the opportunity to suit up and play for Our Lady is something that should be cherished and respected.
I love Notre Dame with all my heart and so grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing here. So, seniors: enjoy the moment, take it all in, because it’s a once in a lifetime type of opportunity to play at Notre Dame. Celebrate it with your family, teammates, coaches and friends and thank the good Lord above that you are playing for the Irish. Go out there, play your hearts out and get one last win for Our Lady of Notre Dame.
Always and forever, love thee! ?
Mike McGlinchey ’17