SOUTH BEND, Ind. – “My older siblings are my role models, especially my older brother Bart,” says Patrick Johnson. “We would go out and visit, and he was part of the group. We watched him enter the field. It was unbelievable. I always wanted to be like him and my sister Mary, I was the chubby kid at recess wearing the Rudy jacket which was way too small for me. I wore it until I was 15. I remember being in the stands with my parents, looking at the student section and going oh my god they’re having so much fun, then you look at the cheerleaders, and they go. have fun even more fun! Then you look at the guy in green, and okay he’s having the most fun.
Patrick Johnson enrolled at the University of Notre Dame with one thing in mind. Become the guy in green. Each year the University selects four elves to represent the tradition, spirit and loyalty of Irish fighters. Patrick worked to achieve this goal from the moment he arrived on campus in his first year.
“First try, I went out, I was a little crazy, I think I was a little too much for people,” Johnson says.
From one year to another…
“This led to year 2 second try, I felt well prepared but things still didn’t go the way you planned, failed, it was close.”
It wasn’t until his final year that it all kicked in, but it was just a year like no other. Leprechaun Pat made his debut in Fighting Irish territory as the world of sport had just been turned upside down. At the time, the question of “do we even need a pixie” was on the minds of many.
But for Pat, it was never about full capacity arenas or large crowds.
“For me, I was like it was a dream come true, I had my goal, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that. No matter the circumstances. I can play a game all year round, occupy this post is such an honor ”
But luckily, after a senior year with limited fans and visitors, he got a second chance. Patrick is now a Masters student at Notre Dame and can be found on the pitch cheering on the football team and interacting with the fans. However, his setbacks did not stop there….
“It was actually an orientation for higher education. I get a call and they say your ACL is ripped, and so I go a little bit ripped and they go no no it’s gone nothing there ”
Last summer, Patrick tore his ACL and meniscus. Despite these continuing obstacles, he continued to fight.
“Rolling with the punches, we are the Irish fighters. You have to keep your fists up. ”
So this year, no matter the risks, Leprechaun Pat is not done yet.
“They knew about my trip, they knew I had been dreaming about it since I was a child, but they said you have to be careful because a wrong move could be the last.”
Now Pat is an inspiration to the young boys and girls in the gallery who have had the same thoughts as him during football games. Oh, what it would mean to be the guy in green.
“There is no risk in following a dream, there is so much more to learn on the journey than the destination. Isn’t that the reason for life, ”says Johnson.