following description of the
Building is from
the superb guide book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus
Guide, by Damaine Vonada. It's available in the book
at it from the South Quad mall, you’d never guess that this
beautifully proportioned brick building is an athletic
facility. With its handsome arched loggia and august Gothic
entrance, it looks more like a bastion of the liberal
and when this arresting edifice was constructed in 1938, it
was actually considered not only quite large but also quite
lavish for a college athletic building. This, however, was
no ordinary athletic hall but a monument to Knute Rockne,
the larger-than-life football coach whose incredible
victories had captured the nation's imagination and made
Notre Dame a household word in the 1920s. Grandeur, quite
simply; was a requirement.
Rockne also served as Notre Dame's athletic director, and
apparently one of his ambitions was to build a campus field
house that would be available to the entire student body.
After his untimely death in 1931, the university decided to
fulfill that goal by building a first-rate intramural
facility in honor of the great coach. The memorial's
placement at the far edge of South Quad would have truly
pleased Rockne. Its excellent aesthetics provide a powerful
focal point for the quad, but even more importantly, the
building is located near the dormitories wherein lived the
erstwhile undergraduates who had personally known him as
''Rock.'' Certainly it's a real measure of the strength of
Rockne’s legacy that even today – several generations
removed from his razzle-dazzle heyday – Notre Dame students
like to call his memorial "the Rock."
architects were J. Maurice Carroll, class of 1919, and
Chester E. Dean of Kansas City. Carroll had been a student
during Rockne's first seasons as head football coach, and
the memorial he helped design fosters athletics with
excellent facilities-including a swimming pool; basketball,
racquetball, and handball courts; and dance and aerobics
rooms -as well as sophisticated symbolism. Large bas-relief
figures representing various sports adorn the exterior walls,
and over the entrances are the seals of the
France, and the
and naval academies.
France were the
birth - places of Rockne and the Congregation of Holy Cross,
became the land where both the coach and the order triumphed.
West Point and
Annapolis, of course, are
two long-standing football rivals of the Fighting Irish.
memorial's main entrance, look for the two stone plaques
that pay tribute to Robert Cavalier, the Sieur de La Salle,
and Leopold Pokagon, chief of the Potawatomi Indians who
lived in the South Bend area when Notre Dame was founded.
La Salle was the great seventeenth-
century French explorer who claimed much of
North America for his king; Pokagon
was the devout Catholic whose sincere faith convinced Father
Badin to bring his ministry to northern
Indiana. Above the front
doors stands a statue of St. Christopher. According to
legend, Christopher was a giant who carried the Christ Child
over the river of death. The Child was carrying the weight
of the world in his hands, and thus Christopher's
extraordinary feat of strength makes his image just right
for an athletic hall.
Although the facilities of the Rockne Memorial are not
available for use by the general public, you will want to
step inside the building’s foyer to view the vintage
football trophies and memorabilia displayed there.
Overlooking all these relics is a handsome bronze bust of
Knute Rockne. Notice that the coach’s nose is very shiny.
That’s because of one of the student’s favorite pr-exam
traditions: rubbing Rockne’s nose for luck.