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Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman explains why he brings his children to practice

photos -jpgby:Ashton Pollard03/27/22


First-time head coach and 36-year-old Marcus Freeman is juggling a lot. Actually, that doesn’t do it justice.

Not only is this his first shot at leading a program, it’s one of the nation’s premier programs in Notre Dame. In addition to that pressure, he has a wife and six young children.

Those that attended Irish spring practice on Saturday — coaches, players, recruits, media members — noticed a few of those small kids running around. His wife, Joanna, was in Ohio with their daughter Siena for gymnastics. Vinny, Freeman’s oldest son, was in Virginia for wresting. So the babysitter brought the youngest four Freeman children — Gino, Nico, Capri and Rocco — over to the Irish Athletic Center for the morning. Why?

The rationale is two-fold, and he explained it on Sunday during a talk in front of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley.

The first reason pertains to his personal family obligations. Understandably, he wants to spend time with his children.

“I get to see my kids for five minutes,” Freeman said. “When we have a quick break during practice, I can run over there and say ‘Hi, Daddy loves you.'”

It’s a small gesture, but Freeman is immensely busy. Five minutes is a huge chunk of time for the head coach, whose every second is planned out with little wiggle room. He undoubtedly cherishes the moment, even if the kids don’t. He addressed that topic next.

“They don’t really want to see me, they just want to go see the players,” Freeman said. “My son Gino got autographs from the players, and I’m like ‘Really? I can get that for you!'”

The crowd broke out into laughter.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Freeman added, laughing himself.

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The second reason has to do with his other set of kids: the Notre Dame football team.

“I want our players to see their coaches as fathers,” Freeman said. “I think there’s power in that. Yeah, we’re going to help you with football, we’re going to help you be great football players, but I hope that you’re a better husband and father because of the time you spent with us. It’s not the things we say as much as, hopefully, the actions. They see us playing with our kids. They see us as husbands. We have them at our house.

“For some of our kids, they don’t know what it means to have a father. They don’t know what it means to be a husband. There are single parents, single-parent moms, so they don’t know. We have to be the example for our young people.”

Good luck arguing he’s not darn good at that.

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