Notre Dame Baseball: Recruiting, History, Schedule, Coaches & More
It’s that time of year again, Notre Dame starts searching for the hot new talent to join their sports teams. With only so many roster slots available and countless students competing for your spot, it’s easy to see why this is such a competitive part of the year. While this is true for any university team, the Notre Dame race is always a hotly contested one.
But the powerful and consistently high level performances this school provides every year isn’t the only reason why this university is one of the most desired. It also has one of the strongest academic programs in the country, as you’ll see below.
What is so special about Notre Dame?
Notre Dame’s baseball team was founded in 1892, 50 years after the university’s 1842 founding by it’s first president, Father Edward Sorin, CSC.
This private university is consistently recognized as having one of the strongest undergraduate education programs, marking it as one of the top universities in the United States.
It’s easy to see why this prestigious university is such a desired spot, with its Six colleges; Arts and Letters, Science, Engineering, Business, Architecture, and Global Affairs as well as over 50 master, doctoral, and professional degree programs.
What about it’s athletics programs?
The school plays in the NCAA Division I in several different athletics programs. While the university is arguably best known for its football team, it’s other team rosters are also comprised of high performing students and athletes. This means that not only are the athletes on these teams hard workers, they also train and practice hard to perform at their very best every week of the season.
The baseball team in particular is noted as being a scrappy persevering team, with several articles noticing that during a seven game home stand, the team won five games by a single point with margins of six and eight for the games they lost. While some theorize that this means the team had a lucky break in those victorious games, we believe that the team is determined to push on and fight for every last point.
What does this mean?
This makes sense when you consider the academic side of the university, which has a very careful screening process that requires excellence and determination in all of it’s students. So joining this university, let alone being accepted for their roster, is a mark that you are one of the elites.
If you want to be recruited to this highly acclaimed university, then this handy guide will teach you how. But before we get into particulars, let’s look at what you can expect from the recruitment process.
How Notre Dame Recruits their players
Like many recruiting universities. Notre Dame goes through an annual year long selection process to help them find the new talent to replace graduating seniors. While Notre Dame has their own spin on each of the following steps, it’s nearly universal how the great rosters fill their ranks every year.
Let’s take a look at some of these methods.
General Recruiting Tools
Every coach makes use of general recruiting sites to help them search name-by-name in the hunt for the talent that will fit their rosters. These sites are an easy way for coaches to collect information and are designed to make recruiting easier.
These tools are similar to the ones that students use to find athletic scholarships and they work with the same principle. By uploading information about a player or school, users will be able to best match players to universities who will best benefit one another.
Our advice, ask recruiting coaches and your high school coaches what recruiting tools they know about and frequently use and ask the site admins or contact us page about how you can help keep your information up to date. In Notre Dame’s case, you’ll definitely want to call and ask the coaches what tools they use.
University Camps and Showcases
Every university hosts training camps and showcases that are open for enrollment to the public. These camps and showcases are designed to give student-athletes the chance to train, compete, and show their skills.
It’s no surprise that many university coaches, like Notre Dame, pay close attention to the results of these camps. Certain student-athletes will always stand out and thanks to hands-on observations and experience, coaches will know that the student is the real deal rather than snippets carefully chosen for highlight reels.
We’ll go into University camps and showcases more later, but for now, consider this to be one of your first and best options to get noticed.
An important tip
Before you show up at a university camp or showcase, reach out to recruiting coaches well beforehand and let them know you’ll be attending. This will give you a higher chance of Notre Dame coaches looking out for you specifically.
Talent Scouting/Identifying Services
Coaching takes a lot of work and recruiting eats time into an already busy schedule. That’s why many coaches use talent identifying services to send them notices on promising recruits that meet their roster’s needs.
Sites such as National Preps may not be for students, but they can be a powerful tool to getting your name in a coach’s inbox.
Our next tip actually goes into how you can best take advantage of this.
Recommendations from High School and Club Coaches
Coaches rely on the recommendations of high school and club coaches to help them make recruiting decisions. High school and club coaches want to see their best athletes succeed and will make a good faith effort to be upfront about your statistics to recruiting university coaches.
This matters, because even the highest level player won’t get very far if a high-school coach doesn’t announce and verify their skill level and physical attributes to a university coach.
Student-athletes can take advantage of this by getting on their coaches good side. Building a rapport will lead to more frequent assistance since, professionalism aside, everyone works harder for those they are on good terms with.
Similarly, if you are on great terms with your coach, you can direct them to talent scouting sites and organizations and their referrals will help scouts deliver your name to university coaches.
But it’s not just scouting and referral websites that get in on the action. Thanks to the Internet, you have a powerful tool at your disposal.
Everyday, more and more companies look at a prospective employees social media page to get the scoop on who they are when they aren’t at the office. So it stands to reason that recruiting coaches will look up prospective students online as well.
Not only will recruiting coaches check out student-athletes of interest to see whether they would be a strong fit for their universities, but they’ll also look for posts about you from rival schools and competitors.
To take advantage of this, we recommend that you put your best face forward on your social media page and carefully curate what goes to your feed. Another strategy that is riskier, but may pay out well in the end, is being open to what universities contact you.
Some schools pay attention when they notice that their rivals have taken an interest in an athlete and may work harder to get your commitment first.
We always urge caution when attempting this strategy, since showing too much interest in a school that contacts you or misrepresenting the facts, may get your applications tossed away.
For many coaches though, nothing beats the personal rapport that can develop by direct or face-to-face communication. This means emails, phone calls, and letters and the exchanges that these personal communications can help develop.
Ideally, this will make it so that coaches no longer need outside sources to remember your name. But it also helps you determine if a coach is the right fit for you. As long as you keep aware of NCAA mandated periods where coaches may not speak with you, this is a great choice.
If you’re asking yourself whether you are the kind of player Notre Dame wants, then let’s see if you meet the cut.
What types of players does Notre Dame look for?
You might be thinking that all you need to get onto a recruiting list are great grades and great game statistics. While those certainly help, as we’ll discuss below, Notre Dame expects quite a lot more from their potential recruits. The following is a short list of what you must have to appear high on Notre Dame’s list of potential recruits.
After earning your slot on the Notre Dame roster, you might be thinking that you are the cream of the crop. You will quickly learn that you are only one of many creams of the crop and the coach expects everyone to pitch in for the good of the team. Superstar players on any team have to trust and work with their team to make game winning plays and that requires humility.
This isn’t to say that a student-athlete can’t make a strong impression after recruitment. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to learn from student-athletes who faced the same struggles that you did. The seniors earned their freshman positions and have seasons of experience that could be shared and help you grow.
Students that can take this lesson to heart tends to be a more valued and welcome member of the team in the locker room and are more desired by recruiting coaches.
Unless you are lucky enough to live close to Notre Dame, you’ll be most likely moving out of your town, out of your state, and possibly even out of the country in order to play for this team. So you don’t have adults looking over your shoulder making sure you manage your time and make healthy decisions.
There are a lot of temptations to deal with when you live on your own and coaches want to trust that their recruits will be able to overcome these temptations to keep up with their on and off field responsibilities.
If you need an idea of what to expect, see if you can talk to current or past players who can share their experiences.
Speaking of what current players may say, they’ll likely tell you that coaches work hard to foster a family feel in their teammates. They want players who can help each other out both on and off the field and help create a positive environment that more toxic players and attitudes would simply not allow.
For that reason, coaches prefer positive players to join their squads. This doesn’t mean that you have to be bubbly if you aren’t naturally so. Instead you should be ready to play and you should be supportive of your fellow teammates.
This mix between encouraging and serious also helps in another facet that coaches look for.
On the same token, even if you have dreams of graduating and jumping right into a professional baseball career, Notre Dame’s recruits are students first before being athletes. It’s vital that you remember that and act accordingly.
Keeping up your grades will keep you with your scholarship and will keep you in a place of honor on your team. It also shows the kind of drive and determination to succeed that is very attractive to coaches from all universities, including Notre Dame.
If you have trouble with maintaining strong work habits, we recommend finding a counselor who can help you find a training or time-management program that works for you.
Finally, coaches are looking for players who excel at their positions and are ready to push beyond their own limits. As we said earlier, even the top local stars at the high school level have a world of improvement to make once they reach the collegiate NCAA level of competition.
Coaches therefore are looking for accomplished players who display talent and a willingness to learn. Because even the most naturally gifted athletes will struggle to keep up with players who show superstar dedication to training and fitness.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect when you play for Notre Dame.
The Coaching Staff at Notre Dame
No team can succeed without high quality leadership and guidance and for many teams, that guidance comes in the form of a rock star coaching staff. To share what you can expect from Notre Dame, we’ve compiled a list of the names to know on this team’s head staff starting with the head coach.
Mik Aoki has served with the Fighting Irish for seven years and has earned the team a 200-193-1 record in those seasons. When he inherited the program in 2011 he immediately delivered, bringing the team to a conference tournament. He continued to improve the win total for the team consistently for three consecutive years and has continued to strengthen the team.
21 of his players have been selected in the Major League draft, including nearly half of those picks in the first 10 rounds, including a record breaking 3 players chosen in the first 10 rounds in 2013, which has never been done since 2004 at that point.
But his success didn’t come alone, he also had help from his assistant coaches.
Assistant coach Adam Pavkovich has a long and storied history in baseball, having played for the Los Angeles Angels as well as playing in the minor leagues. He has previous coaching experience and is returning to the Irish baseball team after three seasons as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia State.
In the seven seasons Chuck Ristano has served with Notre Dame, he has helped produce 12 Major League draft picks. He has also produced a team ERA under 4.00 in five seasons. He has also led the Irish hurlers to an amazing three consecutive seasons with a below 3.00 walks per nine innings rate for the first time in the programs history.
Ristano is also teamed up with co-recruiting coordinator Jesse Woods and helped bring five top 45-recruiting classes to the program.
With these superstars of the coaching staff out of the way, let’s look at what you can expect if you play for this team.
What is Notre Dame Baseball like?
Students who get recruited for Notre Dame’s baseball team can expect to be a part of a strong and scrappy team. You will be trained in how to make game changing plays and will earn the same determination that this team is known for across the NCAA tournament season.
This is best shown by a game on April 21st of this year versus Virginia Tech, where the team gave up a three run lead in the 9th and were trailing by 2 at the bottom of the 12th. Rather than give up like most teams would, Notre Dame kept fighting their hardest and walked away with the runs they needed to scratch out a win.
While few will call this roster a natural powerhouse like many others, but no one can deny that Notre Dame’s program is determined to make their opponents earn every point they get and win or lose, it is never over until it’s over.
So if you have a ‘never-say-die’ attitude, then this is the program for you.
Does Notre Dame have any notable rivalries?
Three of the most noted traditional rivalries Notre Dame has comes with Michigan, and USC. These schools are heated rivals through and through and those games always bring the most energy from either side on both the fans and the players.
One interesting rivalry that crops up is with Stanford. As many articles point out, while many Notre Dame fans have no love for the Cardinals, the rivalry is more based on respect rather than heated loathing. The rivalry is also year round because there seems to be a race for recruiting, as these schools often compete for the same raw talent.
This means that if Stanford shows an interest in you, then you can be sure that Notre Dame will investigate and try and discover why and may compete to win you away from the Cardinals.
How can I get an invitation to play for Notre Dame?
Like most universities, there are several must have requirements that must be met in order to receive a scholarship to play for this prestigious team. While every university has their own slight variations on these themes, they cover three main areas that we’ll go over below.
The reason we list Academic Requirements first is that, by NCAA standards, scholarship winning students must be Student-Athletes. This means that their primary purpose in coming to this university is to complete their studies and perform excellently in the classroom.
The NCAA proves their dedication to this goal by requiring all Division I schools to meet the following academic minimum requirements to get their foot in the door.
- Complete 16 core courses to include…
- Four years of English
- Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
- Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
- One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
- Two years of social science
- Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
- Complete 10 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before your seventh semester.
- Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.
- Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale, which balances your test score and core-course GPA.
Even if you have met these requirements, you have to remember that there is a competition for a limited number of spots on the team each year. So if you want a higher chance at successful recruiting, you have to surpass these standards. You can never go too high. This is especially true given Notre Dame’s focus on excellence.
Every position has particular requirements to excel in those roles, but what it all boils down to is staying match-fit and keeping up with your skills training. Once you enter the Notre Dame roster, you’ll be able to work with your coaches to find a training routine that works for you and your role.
But what you might want to do now is talk with your coaches about your strengths and weaknesses as a player and ask about exercises and training programs you can use to improve. You should also get accurate measurements of your player ability and physical attributes (height, weight, etc) and ask your coaches if you’re playing for the right position for you.
Personality and Management Skills
When you enter university level athletics, coaches are going to require a lot more of your soft social skills than you ever thought possible. You’ll be expected to not only show a willingness to learn, but you’ll also have to become a positive and supportive member of your team.
You’ll also need to be able to master managing your time, because at the university level you won’t always have someone hanging over your shoulder reminding you of what you have to do.
Specifically, you’ll want to show some of, if not all, of the following skills.
As a member of The Fighting Irish, you will be expected to work with your team to pull everyone through even the roughest spots. There is no room for prima donnas when the team is entering the final few innings behind on points or barely ahead of their opponents. So the coaches want to see that you can work with your teammates, helping them stand when they fall.
Athletic competition is difficult. That much is always true, with the long hours of work that you can expect. Coaches know that even if you falter, that if you’re willing to get back up and keep moving forward, then you’re far more likely a strong fit for their team.
This is also one of the most telling features of a Notre Dame athlete so it makes sense that this is a highly desired trait for it’s players.
With only so many hours in a day, you can’t afford to waste a lot of time. One of the biggest struggles that incoming freshman often face is knowing how to prioritize what they have to do against what they want to do, which can lead to messed up sleep schedules or missed appointments and assignments.
So start getting your time management skills on point now.
As the season and semesters grind on, it can be overwhelming to think about all the responsibilities that will fall in your lap as a player. When the pressure is high, many players have to stand up and find strategies that will help them overcome. But the trick is to make sure that your stress relief doesn’t get in the way of any of these other goals.
Hobbies and extracurricular activities that don’t take you too far away from your athletic and academic work are a great way to do this.
If you can manage to keep up with these traits, then you might be ready to get recruited to play for Notre Dame. But here’s a few final tips that will get you started on the right foot.
3 Tips to Getting Recruited for Notre Dame Baseball
Contact your local coaches and Notre Dame’s recruiting coaches early and often
Local coaches are often the trusted source for accurate assessments of your skills and value as a player. So if you want your name to make a stronger impression on Notre Dame’s recruiting coaches, then you should talk with your current coaches. Build a rapport with them and ask them for honest feed back about your areas of improvement, strengths, and talents.
Your interest and enthusiasm for improvement will often show up in their feedback letters and emails that Notre Dame’s coaches will see, which will only make you look better in their eyes.
As far as Notre Dame itself, if you are interested in playing for the team and want the university to watch your growth and performance, you’ll want to talk with them. The team website lists Ristano as the co-recruiting coordinator for the team, and he can be reached by the email address on this page.
When you speak with him, just remember to be respectful of his time and position, but enthusiastic about learning more. Also be sure to let him know if you are showing up at any tournaments or showcase camps. But be aware that there are certain periods of the year where coaches cannot speak with you at all, so be aware of those dates.
Start gathering clips for your highlights reel
An important part of making coaches notice you is to have a stellar highlight reel that shows your performance in a game. You’ll want to get lots of clear shots that show you at your best, because it will give you more room for later video editing and clip collection. Find someone who can record you playing on a high quality camera and use that to enhance your application.
Participate in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Prospect Camp
University run showcase camps are an excellent way to get noticed by your potential future coaches. Not only will they see you perform in-person, but you’ll also be able to see for yourself if this team is right for you.
As we said before, make sure that you reach out to recruiting coaches to let them know you’re on the way. Ideally you’ll do this after you’ve built up a rapport with the current recruiting coach so that they are already eager to meet you.
You can learn more about their camp by checking out our write-up on this page.