by Marcy Patterson
One Jacksonville native began her love of all things Notre Dame from an early age, when her family would make the trip to northern Indiana to root from the stands at football games. Today, when Kalleigh Burke is not studying hard you can find her on the sidelines at the Notre Dame stadium helping her favorite team.
When Burke started looking at colleges while a student at Routt Catholic High School, she liked the idea of going to a school like the University of Notre Dame.
“I knew they would challenge me and give me opportunities that I otherwise would not have,” tells Burke. “I knew that I wanted to study business and their program was top-notch.”
Also helping her make her decision was the fact that she was Catholic and related to the school’s faith-based foundation and commitment to service. Upon her graduation from Routt in 2018 she officially joined the ranks.
Burke is in her fourth season as a student equipment manager for the football team; working with the defensive line in particular.
As an equipment manager, a typical week for Burke usually begins with team walkthrough days on Monday where she might run chains or signal cards. Tuesday through Thursday brings full practice in which she arrives an hour before the team to get all the equipment out. During practices, Burke sets up all the drills for the defensive line and works closely with Coach Mike Elston to make sure that he and the players have everything they need so they can just focus on practice. If it is an away game, they will depart on Friday but if they have a home game, they use that time to prepare the locker room.
On Saturdays the equipment managers report to the stadium six hours before game time. Their duties include setting up the field and putting finishing touches on the locker room. About two to three hours before kickoff the players arrive and start warming up.
During games, Burke has different responsibilities from week to week. She often serves as a ball girl for the refs, occasionally works the signal cards and works on the sidelines helping the coaches with their whiteboards.
On Sundays they prepare the equipment for the next week, repair face masks and prepare new practice jerseys with updated numbers for the scout team. She enjoys traveling on away game weekends. The team and staff travel by private jet to the games and when en route to and from the jet by bus they receive a police escort. Their accommodations are always nice, and they enjoy great food which is served up to four times a day.
Her football season is coming to an end as the senior finance and Spanish major will be graduating in the spring. Burke kicked off 2022 with a trip to Glendale, Arizona, to assist her Fighting Irish at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, January 1, 2022. The Bowl game was won by Oklahoma State University 37-35.
Kalleigh Burke is the daughter of Jim and Laura Burke. Kalleigh credits her dad for being the one who got her interested in football from an early age. She plans to pursue a graduate degree or a career with a professional sporting team upon her graduation.