Black coaches at Notre Dame talk pressure, significance of making history

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 6:23 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - History is happening over at Notre Dame, specifically with athletics.

As of right now, Notre Dame is one of only two major universities to have a Black head coach in all four of its highest profile athletic programs. We’re talking football, men and women’s basketball, and volleyball.

Those coaches are Marcus Freeman, Micah Shrewsberry, Niele Ivey, and Salima Rockwell, respectively.

It’s a move far beyond many universities when it comes to representation, and that’s why our own Joshua Short sat down with three of the four head coaches (Shrewsberry, Ivey, and Rockwell) to talk about the impact and the weight of this moment for the university and collegiate sports.

JOSH: Does this moment add any pressure?

MICAH: I don’t know if there’s pressure that comes with it because we all probably have our own expectations that we put on ourselves. Now, I need to do everything the right way and do it in a great way so that there are people that get a chance to do this behind me and after me.

JOSH: It sounds like that’s pressure… but good pressure, cause pressure can burst pipes and make diamonds, right?

MICAH: Yeah.

SALIMA: There’s a little bit of added significance. You know people are watching. When I get DMs by little Black girls that are playing volleyball, it’s kind of cool. I know what they’re looking at, and I know it means a lot to be in a position where someone can say, “I wanna do that. She looks like me. She’s doing that. I see that I can do that.” That’s significant.

JOSH: Has the pressure for you eased up, Coach (Ivey), because you were the first Black female head coach not just in program history, but in this institution’s history. Now seeing your cohorts with you, does that make things a little bit easy?

NIELE: I feel like we can relate, obviously. I try to share my experiences with both of them. They know that I support both of them. It’s a family, and I’m fortunate for that. So, I don’t feel like it’s pressure, but I just feel like we’re a unit. We’re family, we understand we’re all going through the same level of stress, level of expectation and pressure, but we’re doing this together.

We’ll have more from Josh’s interview throughout the month. Stay with 16 News Now on-air and online.

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