ND-Atl 2.0 takes over today with his introduction of the 2019 Notre Dame Men’s Lacrosse bagpiper!
A Tradition Unique in Division 1 Lacrosse
For the past twenty-two years, the Fighting Irish men’s lacrosse team has been led onto the field by a player bagpiper, entering to the powerful tune of Scotland the Brave. This tradition will continue into this 2019 season!
The practice began in 1996 with Sean Meehan, an accomplished bagpiper. Sean led the team onto the field for the first game of the season, and he thought that the single effort would be the end of it. The story continues that his teammates enjoyed it so much that they snuck his bagpipes on the road trip for the next game so he could lead them out again, and so the tradition started. It been a feature of every game since: home, road, and even to the national championship game.
The second part of the tradition is that each piper chooses his successor. Meehan passed the tradition on to midfielder Chad DeBolt, who passed it on to goalie and football long snapper Dan Hickey, who passed it on to defenseman Regis McDermott, who passed it on to goalie Colt Power, who passed it on to attackman Ryan Mix, who passed in on to friend of 18 Stripes defenseman Eddie Glazener, who passed it on to 2018 graduate and defenseman Will Young.
It is said there was an early VHS tape from Meehan helping his successors learn the instrument. The tape was rumored to have been lost to history (more on that below), and by the time the pipes came to Glazener, the instrument was passed on with the simple instruction “Take ’em home, learn how to play, and don’t screw up.”
We are pleased to report that Will Young found a willing and able successor, and the tradition will continue.
Introducing our 2019 Men’s Lacrosse Bagpiper: Tommy McNamara!
Junior midfielder Tommy McNamara is from Villanova, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Haverford School where he was the captain of the basketball and lacrosse teams, and where he earned 10 varsity letters. After missing his freshman season with the Fighting Irish due to injury, he tallied three goals in eight games last year, including his first for the Irish against Marquette.
Tommy answered some questions for 18 Stripes:
Ryan Mix asked Eddie Glazener, and Eddie asked Will Young. We assume Will asked you. How did Will approach you about playing the bagpipes, and did you really want to do it?
Will and I were pretty close during our two years playing together and knowing that someone in the 2020 class would likely be chosen, I guess the possibility of being picked was always in the back of my mind. After our loss to Denver in the playoffs last year, Will left the pipes in my locker and we shared a brief moment in which he told me It was my time to keep it going. It was bittersweet because it was hard knowing that a great teammate was graduating, while also being a great honor that he thought I would be able to keep the bagpiping tradition alive. Since then, it has been a challenge I have been happy and proud to take on.
Have you played bagpipes before and are you taking lessons?
I have never played the bagpipes before and I really had no idea where to start at the beginning. I’ve spent a lot of time on YouTube, bagpiping websites, and even watching an old practice tape Coach Corrigan had from Sean Meehan (the original piper)*. Most helpful though have been skype lessons I have taken with Tyler Johnson, a former leading member in the ND bagpiping band, and lessons back home in Philly with Jim McGilvery, a bagpiper local to the area.
(*Note: It seems the Meehan practice tape has not been lost as rumored!)
How much do you practice during the week?
Since getting back to campus for the spring semester I have been practicing almost every night, after practice in the locker room. It’s pretty loud so I have found that’s really the only place I can play these days.
Are you nervous about leading the team out for your first official game as piper against Detroit Mercy?
I am sure I will be nervous, like with every game, you always have some pregame jitters. But for now I have really just tried to focus on each day’s preparation and how I can get better than I was the day before.
What do you hope the experience will be like?
I think more than anything It will be a fun experience. My main goal is just to get the pipes sounding the best they can and to make sure they can be a great last tune we hear before playing someone in a different jersey.
Have the older pipers reached out to you and offered their advice?
Our Junior networking event in New York actually provided an awesome opportunity to see several of the past bagpipers and chat about the whole process. I have probably talked to Will the most though. He has been really helpful in answering any little questions I have here or there and he has been great checking in every now and then, asking how its going
Thank you, Tommy, for answering our questions and letting us introduce you to our readers and to fans of Notre Dame lacrosse!
The 2019 campaign begins February 16 at 7:30 pm, with a primetime game against the Detroit Mercy Titans at home at the Loftus Sports Center. Tommy will lead the Fighting Irish onto the field as his bagpiper predecessors have for the past twenty-two years.