Feb. 28, 2011
Notre Dame men’s lacrosse midfielder Zach Brenneman leads the Irish into the 2011 season looking to build on the success of last season. Notre Dame’s team captain this season, Brenneman was a key member of the 2010 squad that advanced to the NCAA finals where they fell in overtime to Duke. Brenneman was an NCAA all-tournament team selection after recording hat tricks in both the semifinal and championship game. An Inside Lacrosse preseason All-American, the 6-3, 215-pound middie was selected by the BIG EAST coaches to the all-BIG EAST preseason team and as the conference’s preseason attack player of the year. A native of East Hampton, N.Y., Brenneman came into the 2011 campaign with 56 goals and 22 assists for 78 points in 50 career games. This season, older brother Zach is teaming with his younger brother, Tyler, who is a freshman on the 2011 team. With Notre Dame off to a 2-0 start this season with wins against Duke and Penn State, Brenneman had a chance to sit down with und.com’s Maura Jones to talk about the game of lacrosse and his career at Notre Dame.
When was the first time you remember playing lacrosse? I remember playing lacrosse when I was in seventh grade and my best friend got me into it. My father was a big baseball guy, so he wasn’t too keen on that, but after he saw me play he was into the sport.
How did you come to play lacrosse at Notre Dame? I got interested in Notre Dame through the recruiting process and Notre Dame became my top choice. All in all, I really wanted to go here and I was able to come here.
How have you improved during your time at Notre Dame? I’d like to say that I’ve improved as a person. I’ve become well rounded with the activities that the program has built in, like the community service. By giving back to the community I’d like to think that I am a well-rounded person.
What is it like to play with your younger brother? It’s a blast to have Tyler on the team. He’s on our third line, so he is kind of on our scout teams. I’m really happy. He’s a great kid and I’m proud to share this experience with him.
What does it mean to you to have earned All-American status? It’s an honor to be selected as an All-American, but it doesn’t really mean much when you’re one goal short of being the national champions. I’d rather have the title national champion than say I am All-American.
How do you feel going into your senior season? I feel really good going into this season. I think we have a really strong team and I’m excited to showcase our talent on national television throughout the year.
What are your personal and team goals? Personal and team goals should be one in the same and that would be to win a national championship.
What are the team’s strengths and weaknesses? I’d say that our strengths are definitely our defense and our goalie. We have all of our starters back and John Kemp is a great net minder. Our weaknesses are that we really need to work on clearing the ball more efficiently and finishing on offensive shots.
As last season’s leading scorer, do you feel any added pressure going into this season? Being the leading scorer doesn’t add any pressure. I do hope that teams end up keying in on me because that opens up slots and opportunities for the others to kind of get theirs.
Do you plan to continue playing lacrosse after college? I’m going to play for the Long Island Lizards (Brenneman was selected in the first round, fifth overall in the 2011 MLL Draft), but that is usually just a summer thing. I’m still going to try to find a job working in finance in New York City.
Do you have any funny stories about lacrosse team life you can share? The first big bus trip, we make the freshman sing songs at the front of the bus. It’s like a karaoke thing, and we’re the judges. The winner doesn’t have to clean the bus up at the end of the trip.
What do you study at Notre Dame? I study finance, but I really want to find a job that suits me. I’m not sure if that will be in finance. If it is then great, but I’m not trying to limit myself by saying that I am finance major and that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. I really don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life.
What is one uniquely Notre Dame experience that you will take away from your four years here? The one unique experience that I will take away from Notre Dame is that on my recruiting trip here, I got to see the Bush-Push, so I’ll always remember that.
Who is your best friend(s) on the team? I live with Kevin Ridgway who is one of my best friends. I also live with Tom Connor and Dave Earl who are some of my best friends. I’d say that in the senior class, there’s fifteen of us, who are a really tight group of kids. Those are friends that I am always going to have for the rest of my life.
What are you most proud of? I’m probably most proud of suiting up and practicing with my brother every day. That really makes me proud to look over and see him sharing the same hardships and victories as me. I’m glad that we get to do this for at least one year.
What is something that makes you unique? I’ve worked for Jerry Seinfeld for the last six summers at his house in the Hamptons. I’m an outside manager and pool boy.
In the past four years, when have you been most happy? I’ve been most happy honestly when I’ve just been hanging out with the kids on the team. I love just the comradery that we share with each other. There’s fifty of us and we’re all really good friends; we’re all close, and that’s really something that makes me most happy, just hanging out with them and being able to be with a group of my best friends.
What is one thing you would like to have a “do-over” on? I would want to do-over the National Championship game. I wouldn’t really be able to do anything differently; I would just hope that we had won. I’d just like to play the game over again and see what the outcome would be.
With whom would you like to trade places with for a day? I’d like to trade places with LeBron James. I think that he is a freak athlete and I’d like to just see the court from his perspective when he’s dribbling the basketball. To have the ability that he does for just a single day would be something spectacular.
What would you like to be remembered for? I’d like to be remembered for my work ethic, that I tried hard all the time. Even if it was just a pick-up basketball game, I’d like to be remembered as someone who cared no matter what.
What are your plans after college? I know I want to move back home for a little bit. With lacrosse, you don’t have much of a school year or much of a summer because you’re always working out or doing something, so I’d like to just kick back and relax for a little while if that is possible.