For Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football And Basketball Players Robby and Michael Carmody, Competitive Nature Doesn’t Stop
football Edit

For Brothers Robby and Michael Carmody, Competitive Nature Never Ceases

Robby and Michael Carmody cannot partake in identical training regimens because of the former’s ongoing recovery from a torn ACL. Even if Robby’s injury was absent, they cannot go shoot around in the gym or run around on the football field due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two brothers and Notre Dame athletes — Robby a junior basketball player and Michael an incoming freshman offensive lineman — are back in their hometown of Mars, Pa., with canceled classes and limited athletic resources. And they might be the best possible duo to thrive despite it. With these two, there is never a shortage of activities to turn into a competition.

Notre Dame incoming freshman offensive lineman Michael Carmody at the 2020 All-American Bowl in San Antonio
Michael Carmody participated in the 2020 All-American Bowl. (Nick Lucero/

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“It doesn’t matter what it is,” said their father, Rob. “‘What’d you get in Mrs. so-and-so’s class. I had a 96. Well I had a 97.’ It’s literally everything they do they compete in.

“Let’s put it like this: I won’t fix my basement walls until they’re both long gone from my home. Whatever they do, whether it’s ping-pong, basketball, there’s always something going on.”

Turns out, there will still be opportunity for some friendly athletic challenges even as they’re at home amid school closures. While they can no longer go to the gym and see their longtime strength and agility trainer, Bill Nichol, who has worked with each since they were in eighth grade, they can still do Nichol’s individual workouts at home. They play different sports, but their custom-designed workouts have similar core goals: build strength and agility.

Robby’s sudden sojourn home — he had planned to stay at Notre Dame all spring and summer to continue his rehab — has provided the chance to stay in shape and prepare together for their upcoming return to South Bend while putting off their dad’s eventual basement reconstruction project even longer. It’s one more chance to pushing each other just as they’ve done their entire childhood. Don’t think they can’t turn basic strength and conditioning workouts into some kind of game.

“They use it in a way where it just drives them,” Nichol said. “Always have to out-do the other guy. But it’s in a supportive way too.”

Nichol, who trains high school, college and occasionally pro athletes, has a wall of about 50 records at his gym. Both Carmody brothers have their name on it. Robby owns a few of the high school jumping records. Last week, Michael set Nichol’s all-time “big guy” record by throwing a 40-pound medicine ball 10 yards behind him. He was on track to break a sled-drag record before Nichol had to temporarily close.

“It might not be the same thing, but it’s, ‘How many times is my name on that board?’” said Rob, Mars’ 22-year head basketball coach.

They gunned for each other’s records throughout high school, too. This year, Michael — also a center for Mars’ basketball team — led the entire country in rebounding with 19.5 per game, according to MaxPreps. He broke Robby’s Mars career rebounding record in the process. Robby, though, still owns the school’s career scoring record. And yes, he ensured Michael knows that.

Robby had ACL surgery 14 weeks ago and remains focused on physical therapy, not yet running or lifting. At this stage, there’s not much overlap between their workouts. But maybe, Rob mused, Michael can learn something from Robby’s work habits and minimize the typical saucer-eyed moments from the first few weeks in a college athletic program.

“It’s nice for him to see his brother going through these things and understand how hard you have to work just to get yourself out there, just getting out onto the field,” Rob said.

For Michael, the months before his June enrollment at Notre Dame will be spent improving his footwork and agility for an increase in pass blocking emphasis while maintaining his power. He played in a wing-T offense in high school that passed sporadically and ran often. He will go from the biggest and strongest player on the field or the court to one of many.

Robby, meanwhile, is ahead of schedule on his rehab.

“Outside of the scars, you couldn’t tell that one leg had such a serious trauma to it,” Rob said.

Jogging, lifting and shooting a basketball are about two weeks away. When Robby can shoot, and with a bit warmer weather, he, Michael and Rob will go out in the driveway and have a free throw contest. Finally, something that inherently anoints a winner.

“We’ll have something where they can compete against each other,” Rob said. “It’s who they are. It’s how they identify themselves.”


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