One student's journey to becoming the 'guy in green'
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “My older siblings are my role models especially my older brother Bart,” says Patrick Johnson. “We would come out and visit, and he was in the band. We would watch him get on the field. It was incredible. I always wanted to be like him and my sister Mary, I was the chubby kid at recess wearing the Rudy jacket that was way too small for me. I wore that until I was 15. I remember being in the stands with my parents, and looking at the student section and going oh my god they are having so much fun, and then you look at the cheerleaders, and they are having even more fun! Then you look at the guy in the green, and okay he is having the most fun.”
Patrick Johnson enrolled in the University of Notre Dame with one thing on his mind. Becoming the guy in green. Each year, the University selects four leprechauns to represent the tradition, spirit and loyalty of the fighting Irish. Patrick worked to reach this goal right when he arrived on campus, as a freshman.
“First try out, I came out, I was a little crazy, I think I was a little too much for people,” says Johnson.
From one year…to the next…
“That led into year 2, second try out, I felt good prepared a lot, but still things do not always go the way you planned, fell short, it was close.”
It was not until his senior year where everything clicked, but it just happened to be a year unlike any other. Leprechaun Pat made his debut into Fighting Irish territory when the sports world had just been turned upside down. At the time, the question of ‘do we even need a leprechaun’ was on the mind of many.
But for Pat, it never was about full capacity arenas or the large crowds.
“For me I was like this is a dream come true, I got my goal it does not get sweeter than this. It does not matter the circumstances. I can do one game the whole year, holding that position is such an honor”
But luckily, after a senior year with limited fans and visitors, he got a second shot. Patrick is now a master’s student at Notre Dame and can be found on the field cheering on the football team and interacting with fans. Still, his setbacks did not just stop there….
“This was actually orientation for grad school. I get a call and they say so your ACL is torn, and I go so a little torn and they go no no, it’s gone nothing there”
This past summer, Patrick tore both his ACL and meniscus. Despite these continuous obstacles, he kept fighting.
“Rolling with the punches, we are the fighting Irish. You have to keep your fists up.”
So, this year, no matter the risks, Leprechaun Pat is not done just yet.
“They knew my journey they knew I had dreamt about this since I was a kid, but they said hey you have to be careful because one false move could be your last.”
Now, Pat is an inspiration for young boys and girls in the stand who had the same thought as he did at the football games. Oh, what it would mean to be the guy in green.
“There is no risk for following a dream, there is so much more to learn in the journey than the destination. Isn’t that what life is all about,” says Johnson.