Doran experiences life as Notre Dame ‘Leprechaun’ mascot

first_imgThe room was full of Notre Dame fans but John Doran was singing alone. He was in the middle of a two-week-long tryout to be the Notre Dame Leprechaun — the mascot who leads the Fighting Irish out of the locker room, clenches his fist to mimic college football’s most famous logo and maintains a red chin strap beard. Doran had known the Notre Dame fight song by heart since high school and rehearsed it in front of his mirror many times. The fans in the room knew it too. Their silence was a test. “The people that are choosing you are just looking at you, not moving,” Doran said. “And you’re thinking, ‘Come on, sing along.’ I just kept going and the second time through they joined in.“Now that I’m the Leprechaun, it’s crazy how hard it was to get the spot.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn a lot of ways, Doran is living a normal college experience as a junior in South Bend, Indiana. He’s an accounting major taking 18 credits a semester to get his CPA in four years, competes in intramural leagues with his friends from O’Neill Hall and frequents all Notre Dame sporting events.But he’s also traded his less-recognizable face for one only rivaled by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and the Irish’s top players. The Notre Dame Leprechaun doesn’t wear a suit or mask, just a green costume that has made Doran the mascot and the mascot Doran — surreal notability for a Troy, New York, native who can’t name any other student mascot without a secret identity.Now he starts his gamedays earlier than a lot of the team and when he belts the fight song, tens of thousands of people sing along. “My brother is one of the most famous people on the campus on gameday, and if not that, than the most accessible,” said John’s older brother James Doran. “He better put a sweatsuit over his costume if he doesn’t want a five-minute walk across campus to turn into an hour.”Growing up, Doran joked about being the Leprechaun but was turned off to the idea when he first got to Notre Dame. The Leprechaun is part of the cheerleading team and — after noting that he has nothing against being a male cheerleader — said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to spend time on the team before becoming the mascot. But the cheerleading team allows guys to try out just for the Leprechaun position and he took that opportunity at the end of his sophomore year.Tryouts for the cheerleading team lasted two weeks and 15 aspiring Leprechauns were cut to six in that time. Doran had to take part in push-up competitions, rally Notre Dame support in a make-believe New York bar while being booed by make-believe Connecticut fans and do a mock interview with a local TV station.The most difficult part, though, was growing a big enough beard to chisel into a red chinstrap. He started to a day after interviewing for a job with Deloitte, a financial consulting firm. Then Deloitte called him back for an interview a week later and he had to explain the patches of red scruff on his face.He still got the job, and has had the same beard ever since. “I really can’t grow a beard,” Doran said. “People ask me, ‘Can you do a backflip?’ and things like that. And I say I’m working on it, but I also have to make sure I keep the chin strap.”Being the Leprechaun has drawn attention to Doran both in the uniform and out. When he, James Doran and a friend were at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York last summer, close to 100 people asked for a photo with him when James and the friend announced who Doran was. On Saturdays, the number of photos can reach the thousands. Sometimes Doran needs cheerleaders to help get him out of crowds and move to the next pregame pep rally. He said he always makes sure to tell those waiting where they can meet him next. Hours later he’ll be looking at the crowd from the field whether the game’s at Notre Dame Stadium or on the road — and the faces will include his friends and family when Syracuse faces Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium this weekend. “It’s just a symbol of the university and football team,” Notre Dame senior Tyler Wagner said. “He’s a big deal here.”While Doran’s identity is in the open, he has to make sure no one steals it. By his door, a green suit, green hat, gold vest and white socks drape a hanger. But that’s the uniform he was given when he first got the spot. He wears a tailored one that he got before the season, and it’s location is probably the only secret that John Doran the Leprechaun keeps. Said James Doran: “There’s a history of people stealing the uniform. I don’t know where he hides it. I bet no one does.” Comments Published on September 25, 2014 at 12:07 am Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more