Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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18 SEPT. 17, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA M ike Brown keeps a rejection letter close to his vest. Literally. His green, official Notre Dame Leprechaun vest. A 2001 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Brown applied for a study abroad program in London in the fall of 1998. He received the letter that has helped shape who he is the following February. Brown never went to London. But he has lived a life of great adventure regardless. "It's my reminder that when one door closes, it's an opening for something else," Brown told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "Something else" ul- t i m a te ly m a n i fe s te d i n Brown becoming the first ever Black Leprechaun on the Notre Dame cheer squad. The two years he served as the Fighting Irish's mascot molded an ongoing lifelong pur- suit of inspiration and fulfillment. This is Brown's story. FOLLOWING HIS HEART Around the same time Brown applied for the London program, his sophomore roommates implored him to try out to be the Notre Dame Leprechaun. The Notre Dame Leprechaun. The one dressed to the nines in green garb, pumping up Fighting Irish faithful at sporting events. Namely, football games. Brown lived for those in a way he never thought he would. He didn't grow up a Notre Dame fan in downtown Milwaukee. He was set on attending Marquette on a full ride. That changed when he met 1983 Notre Dame graduate Mike Peterson at a function welcoming him as an intern at his church. Brown told Peterson about himself. He was No. 5 in his high school graduating class, the captain of the football team, a churchgoer five to seven times a week, etc. Peterson heard all he needed to. "Have you thought about Notre Dame?" Peterson asked. No. He hadn't. Brown couldn't point to Notre Dame on a map. He thought it was on the East Coast. The only things he knew about Notre Dame were of Tim Brown's ex- cellence and that the clipping call that wiped Rocket Ismail's would-be game- winning 90-yard punt return touch- down off the board in the 1991 Orange Bowl against No. 1 Colorado was a phantom flag. "That wasn't a penalty," he said. Peterson made sure to see Brown's ap- plication off in the mail. He was elated when affirmation of acceptance was re- Brown, a Notre Dame class of 2001 graduate, was the first ever Black Leprechaun on the Fighting Irish cheer squad. PHOTO COURTESY MIKE BROWN HEART AND SOUL The first Black Notre Dame cheer squad Leprechaun, Mike Brown inspires others through everyday living and writing children's books

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