Green fingernails give Irish the 'March Mentality'

CHICAGO (WNDU) - The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is no stranger to making deep runs in the NCAA Tournament.

The Irish have played in 10 straight sweet 16s and have made it to the Final Four six of the last eight years.

But one tradition started this pattern of excellence back in 1997.

In Notre Dame’s first Final Four run under Muffet McGraw, the Irish squared up against Texas in the Round of 32.

The Blue and Gold were seen as major underdogs that day, so guard Mollie Peirick decided to get the team to paint their nails green for good luck -- and it worked.

Notre Dame advanced to coach Muffet McGraw’s first Final Four that year, and the Irish have kept up the tradition ever since.

“As a freshman, you don’t really know what it stands for, but as time goes on, we just knew whenever it gets time for March Madness, it’s just something we do,” Irish guard Jackie Young said. “It’s great to see so many people participating in it. Not just the team but friends and family.”

But now the green nails are more than just a good luck charm for the Irish. They give Notre Dame the mindset to give it their all.

“It’s amazing, because I feel like I was part of the beginning,” Notre Dame associate head coach Niele Ivey said. “Just to see them carry on the tradition this far, I think it’s incredible to honor the success that we’ve had in this program. To me, it’s just like a mentality of when the tournament starts, it’s business. We’re all kind of rallying together.”

Most of the Notre Dame players already had their fingernails painted, but the ones who didn’t assured NewsCenter16 they would have them ready to go before game time.

Tip between the Irish and the Aggies is Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on ESPN2.