InsideNDSports - Notre Dame athletics celebrates Juneteenth with local community
football Edit

Notre Dame athletics celebrates Juneteenth with local community


SOUTH BEND — Marcus Freeman was out of bounds.

When Notre Dame’s head football coach caught a pass during an impromptu flag football game at the O.C. Carmichael Jr. Youth Center in South Bend on Monday, a few local children made sure he knew his touchdown catch shouldn’t have counted.

Freeman, dozens of Notre Dame football players and many more athletes and coaches from the university spent two hours with the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County on Monday as part of a Juneteenth celebration.

Football quarterback Tyler Buchner was playing basketball, men’s basketball guard Dane Goodwin was playing catch and women’s basketball guard Dara Mabrey was kicking a ball around with some of the children in attendance. When some Irish football players were helping kids dunk with a lift on a shorter hoop, the line started to get long.

One child approached women’s basketball head coach Niele Ivey and instead of asking for Ivey’s autograph, gave Ivey her own autograph. Hundreds of children played games, ate sweet treats and were able to have conversations with Notre Dame student-athletes during the local celebration.

Freeman told Inside ND Sports why it was important for him and his players to spend time at the youth center Monday: “One, it’s to celebrate Juneteenth, which is such an important holiday for America but obviously for Black individuals. Then to be a part of the community. For our players, our staff and the other student-athletes here, being a part of the community is so important.”

The event started after a handful of people spoke to the importance of celebrating Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. The speakers included Freeman, Notre Dame executive associate athletic director of culture and engagement JP Abercrumbie, Notre Dame diversity and inclusion program manager Eve Kelly, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County CEO Jacqueline Kronk and South Bend Mayor James Mueller.

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