When I was a freshman, I would stand with my friends from Lyons Hall in the stadium during football games. When the Notre Dame Victory March would be played, we would half-sing, half-yell the added phrase “and daughters” with the last line.
It was simply impossible to keep the tune with the extra words—“marchingonward” became one slurred word. But we would sing it out anyway. Game after game.
And it always made me smile.
Because it was 1978, and we were only the seventh class of women admitted to this university. And it didn’t take much to remind us that we were interlopers. Mournful alums would write into The Observer for weeks whenever a beloved dorm was “turned over to the girls.”
I smiled the same way on Dec. 5 when the Irish women’s soccer team upset undefeated and top-ranked Stanford to take the crown. Count them. Three national championships since 1995.
At Mendoza, we’re proud to claim seven business majors among the champions, as well as a science and business double major.
It’s been a surprising cultural transformation at Notre Dame. Remember, there wasn’t a single female athlete on scholarship here in 1978. And Notre Dame didn’t have women’s varsity soccer until 1988.
In the decades since Title IX promised women new opportunity, Notre Dame has made an unparalleled commitment to its Olympic, nonrevenue-producing sports programs, benefiting many female and male athletes alike. And it’s something to celebrate.
Next time you’re at a football game, and they bring out a group of women athletes during one of the timeouts, take a moment to really listen to the announcer and to marvel at what they achieve for their alma mater. And consider singing along:
What though the odds be great or small,
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons and daughters are marching
Onward to victory.