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w/ U-20 MNT midfielder Greg Dalby

Greg Dalby is proof a Big Man on Campus doesn’t need to be the loudest or most flamboyant. The soft-spoken Dalby became the BMOC at Notre Dame by making a quick transition from high school to the well-known institution, starting all 23 games for the Irish his freshman year as a central back and midfielder and helping the team to a appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.

Dalby was in the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team picture since last year, but he only got three caps with the team due to a minor leg injury keeping him from getting more appearances. Fully recovered, the Poway, Calif., native was a rock as a holding midfielder for the U-20s during qualifying for the FIFA World Youth Championship in January and is looking to secure his spot on the 20-man roster that will go to Holland in June.

Going to school at  Notre Dame is a lot different experience than people get at other universities. For one, there is more on-campus stuff going on in the dorms than outside of the school, such as Greek life, because probably around 80 percent of the students live in the dorms. At another school you might live in a dorm for only a year or two, but at Notre Dame the majority of juniors and seniors also live in the dormitories.

I’m not saying it is better, but I think the social life is just different as there tends to be more campus pride than your average school because so many of the 8,000 undergraduate students are involved in whatever is going on at the campus.

Being a part of the “Fightin’ Irish” is definitely an aspect I take a lot of pride in, but at the same time I wouldn’t clasify myself a “Domer,” which is a nickname for your typical Notre Dame student who is really gung-ho about ND football and take sanctuariy in their personal cubical in Hesburgh library. I take pride in being part of Notre Dame and its traditions, but I’m not over-the-top like a lot of students.

I ended up choosing Notre Dame because I knew I’d get a great education and when I visited I really connected with the players and the coaches on the team. For the past two years, I’ve made great strides as a person, player, and student with the help of Bobby Clark, a.k.a “The Boss,” and his assistants.  The combination of facilities, coaching staff, education, student personality, and having grown up as a fan of the “Irish”, Notre Dame proved to be the school for me.

The biggest change for me and something I wasn’t really ready to deal with was the weather. But with multiple North Face pakas, beenies, gloves, fleeces, long johns, and whatever else will keep my californian skin warm, it ended up as just a minor factor.  Walking through eight to nine inches of snow at 6 a.m. wasn’t exactly the “sandal” weather that I was so used to on the California coast line.

Obviously, the religious part of Notre Dame is something different for me, as I’m not catholic. It is almost always around you as I have a few priests for teachers and there are chapels in every building. But the spiritual aspect of ND hasn’t been the least bit smothering at all, in fact,  I’ve found it to be a real eye-opener and beneficial at times.

Notre Dame is first-and-foremost a football school and the games are great. Almost 100,000 people pour into the area on game day and makes for a great atmosphere. The constant attention to the football team may take away from the soccer, but you can’t complain too much. The only bad thing is that I don’t get to go to a lot of games because we’re usually traveling or have a game ourselves.

We are in the Big East Conference so we end up traveling a lot to the East Coast, which I really enjoy. For the last two years it’s been a pretty cool experience because I had never really been to the East Coast before and its great to see other college campuses.

On the road, we don’t go out much as we’re always trying to keep up with our homework, but we make the best of it. Once in awhile our coach will take us bowling or out to eat.

Now that I’ve been with the U-20s a lot, too, it seems like my work load is getting to be overwhelming at times. I always have to talk to my professors and at times it’s tough to get homework done or take tests on the road. But, overall, I’ve really appreciated how cooperative my teachers have been and Sigi has been great as well, which I think he understands because he was a college coach.

The last few years at Notre Dame we’ve made a lot of huge strides. My freshman year we won the Big East Conference tournament and then this year we won the regular season title.

Along with our success as a team, we’ve seen three players get picked in the MLS draft, which means there are good things to come for our school in the future. It also makes me think that if they can do it, then I can, too. I know I’ve improved since my time with the U-20s, just playing with guys like Eddie Gaven and Freddy Adu, but even though it is tempting, I’m just concentrating on our next season. Getting a degree from Notre Dame is something that is really important to me and as of now, college soccer is the best thing for me, as I feel Notre Dame Soccer is as a close to a professional environment you can get.