The University of Notre Dame football team officially opened its 2019 training camp at Culver Academies, closing out its first day of practice Sunday afternoon. This is the sixth year coach Brian Kelly has brought the Irish to “Camp Culver,” which consists of five practice days at Oliver Field. The Irish will also attend meetings, stay in the dorms, and eat on campus.
“It’s all about football,” Kelly said about bringing the team to Culver. “It’s all about building relationships with your teammates. When you do these kinds of offsite camps, that allows that to really grow.” It also allows the coaches to strengthen their relationships with the players, he added.
Starting the season ranked ninth in the country, the Irish will be returning to South Bend on Thursday afternoon after their final Culver practice. The practices are closed to the public, but fans can stay connected by going to ND’s YouTube Channel for updates and features during the week.
The 2019 camp continues the long football history enjoyed by the two schools. The connection goes back to 1917 when the legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne and Culver Military Academy coach Bob Peck played professional football for the Massilion (Ohio) Tigers. That is two years prior to the founding of the National Football League, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this season.
During their tenures, Rockne visited Culver several times, hosting his football coaching schools on campus, giving the dedication speech for the Culver Recreation Building in 1924, and addressing the football team before the Eagles’ 1930 game against St. John’s Military Academy at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Peck’s team won, 19-0, in front of a crowd of 45,000 fans. Russ Oliver ’31, the Culver coaching legend the football field in named after, was on that team.
Lou Holtz also brought the Fighting Irish to Culver for pre-season camps in 1995 and 1996. The Notre Dame hockey, men’s lacrosse, and women’s rowing teams have also come to Culver for brief stays in recent years.