Washington Hall, one of the University of Notre Dame’s greatest architectural treasures is built high and wide with breathtaking sculpture and design. Dedicated to the arts and the theatre, it is a home to many students. Suddenly, a dark cloud falls over the beautiful building, ripping away it’s once innocent cover. Unexplained footsteps make their way onto the roof, doors unexplainably slam shut with no one on either side. This is the only the beginning, soon the whole world will know the story of “The Gipper” and most, will wish they hadn’t.
The year was 1920 when George Gipp made his way into the university history books, being the first Irish football player to make an All-American football team. He was known as one of the country’s finest football talents at halfback, setting records from leading his team in rushing and passing that still stand today. He was an all-star rookie, who was rising fast in the football world. Until tragedy struck, and his football career ended just as fast as it had begun.
It was late on the night of December 14, 1920, when Gipp found himself locked out of his building after missing curfew. Feeling the exhaustion from the day, he decided to take a nap on the steps leading up the hall, assuming someone would eventually open the doors. It was then that he had made the deadliest mistake of his life. Yet, there was no way he could have known he was going to catch pneumonia from that cold December night, no way to know that that one choice would end his life at the young age of 25.
It was first around Christmas of 1920, shortly after his death, that people had started reporting sightings of a ghostly figure. Campus newspapers reported, “residents of Washington Hall began to be bothered by night-time visits from a ghost who… blew a French horn with much violence...When they went fearfully to investigate he would be gone.” These were not the only sightings. Throughout the next years, the theatre in the hall was known to have many ghostly occurrences. Props began jumping off the shelves, strange music would be playing with no one around, even phantom footsteps were heard on the stage of the vacant auditorium. The Gipper, however, did not stop there. Still seemingly lurking the halls in 1925-26, a student, Pio Montenegro, claimed to see a ghostly figure described as the ghost of George Gipp riding a white horse through the halls and out onto the steps.
Some say George Gipp’s ghost is stuck in the building, not able to escape to the afterlife due to unfulfilled responsibility. Other say he chooses to stay, wreaking havoc on those who never unlocked the doors, leaving him out in the harsh cold. Few, choose to remember him as the amazing football player who ended his career with a record-breaking 2,341 rushing yards. Most, however, will remember George Gipp as ‘The Gipper’, the ghost who roams Washington Hall.
Sources: “Ghosts Lurk in Football Stadiums with Haunted Histories.” Sports Planning Guide, Publisher Name Sports Planning Guide, 26 Oct. 2016, sportsplanningguide.com/ghosts-lurk-in-football-stadiums-with-haunted-histories/. “Gipp, Ghosts Haunt Campus Lore // The Observer.” The Observer, The Observer, 30 Nov. -1, ndsmcobserver.com/2006/10/gipp-ghosts-haunt-campus-lore/. Woodyard, Eric. “Spirit of Flint Athlete, 'The Gipper,' Haunts Notre Dame Campus.” MLive.com, MLive.com, 30 Oct. 2014, www.mlive.com/sports/flint/index.ssf/2014/10/spirit_of_flint_athlete_haunts.html. “The Ghost of Washington Hall.” University of Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame, 2018, www3.nd.edu/~washhall/ghost.html. Zoey's article was published in Issue 15 of Inspiring Teens Magazine.
Interview with Zoe D’Angelo Nomination & Photography by Heather Wanninger of Sweet Lemonade Photography Indiana
The Nomination: Brooks Coetzee, I'm amazed at kids who have a dream from a very young age and with hard work and God given talent make those dreams come true. He is a college freshman this year playing at Notre Dame. How awesome is that?
How did you become interested in baseball? Growing up in South Africa I didn't even know what baseball was. I played every sport possible, but my favorite was always cricket. When I moved to the states, baseball was the closest thing to cricket. After I earned a spot on a local travel team, the rest is history, I have been hooked ever since.
Tell me about playing for Notre Dame. Playing at Notre Dame is special. Some schools tend to be one dimensional, only good at athletics or only solely focused on academics. Therefore, I was so excited to earn my scholarship. I can compete in one of the best conferences for baseball while earning a degree from one of the top schools in the country. Notre Dame is going the challenge me both on the field and off the field.
How has your freshman year been so far? Freshman year so far has been a humbling experience filled with many opportunities to grow. My coaches and teachers all told me that college will hit you hard if you aren’t ready and hit hard it did. I got to the point where I felt like I wasn’t even playing the same sport I played growing up, everything was so much faster, and it demanded so much of my time. Although I have faced so many challenges, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Who is your biggest inspiration in life? The biggest inspiration in my life is my dad. He is one of the hardest working and most selfless people I know. My dad is constantly pushing himself to further his career and be the best he can be. He is also the reason I am where I am today. He has sacrificed so much of his time for a baseball career. Whether it is driving across the country, so I can play in a tournament, or videotaping every at-bat, he has been my number one fan since the beginning.
What are your plans for after college? My plans for after college to pursue my baseball career until I do not have any more opportunities. When that day comes, I will have a degree in Business Management and start a family. Brooks was featured in issue 15.