Honoring Athletic Excellence

This season’s football awards recognized players w and coaches alike with a fond farewell to Head Coach, Joe McNab


via Notre Dame Athletics

Joe McNab finished up his final football season, but he’ll leave behind a legacy of love and dedication that will remain for decades to come.

For over four decades now, Coach Joe McNab has dedicated his energy, skills, and spirit to Notre Dame football. Leading with hard-earned wisdom and tough love, he’s led countless JV and Varsity men to championships—positively influencing hundreds of student’s lives on and off the field.

In 2019, he became head coach after 36 years as the defensive coordinator. Earlier this month, he announced his retirement from the program, a decision that came after much deliberation.

Needing hip replacement and knee replacement surgery, the weight of those 36 years has truly weighed on him.

“If I don’t [retire] soon, when can I?” he told the LA Times in November. 

Last week’s football awards kicked-off with an endearing speech from McNab. He reflected on this past season, with its incredible plays and its outstanding players—the last of countless teams he has mentored.

Between light-hearted jokes about his coaching experiences, moments of emotion truly shone through. It was obvious that the work he’s done has been so much more than just a job for him. 

Senior defensive end, Henry Hayes, said, “He has always treated us like we were part of his family. He showed genuine care for people and made everyone laugh.”

After the speech and a warm round of applause, the rest of the ceremony commenced. 

JV athletes were lined up and called out by name, receiving certificates for their efforts during the season. Football players who maintained that dedication within the classroom as well received Athletic Scholar Awards, a quality of a school that truly values merit in both sports and academics. 

Varsity members were soon called up after, but this time individually. Coaches took turns giving brief speeches about the talents, character—and even some of the challenges—of each young man. Many players suffered injuries this season, and the coaching staff took time to recognize the difficulty of this. 

Next came the Team Awards, special distinctions voted on by a player’s fellow teammates. Titles included “Most Improved Lifter,” “Most Outstanding Lineman,” “Most Outstanding Defensive Back,” and of course—“Most Outstanding Player,” which was earned by junior running back, Brandon Bryant. 

The most notable of all, however, was the Bobby Satterfield Memorial Award. 

Named in honor of an ‘84 alum, the memorial award is given to a student who best exemplifies the outstanding character, dedication, and team spirit of Bobby Satterfield. This year’s recipient was running back Brennan Dragommer ‘23, an athletic scholar, the “Most Valuable Lifter,” and president of the Chess Club. 

The night continued with varsity athletes reversing the roles and giving short speeches about the coaches who impacted them most, including Ethan Fullerton ‘23, whose speech was directed towards his father.

Finally, Coach McNab gave his final reflections, and the ceremony ended with delicious homemade goods from team moms. 

While McNab will remain Head Coach of the Track and Field team, his absence on the football field will certainly be felt by all.