One whistle changes everything

John Sexton

If you follow Notre Dame football, you’ve seen John Sexton on the field for every home game for the past four years. You may not have noticed him much for his first few seasons. He was usually one of the last guys to take the field.

As a senior, though, John got his turn at the front of the rotation. He led his team members through campus on their traditional walk through throngs of fans on game days, down the north tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium and under the “Here Come the Irish” sign for a 100-yard jaunt on the turf amid a roar of 80,000 eagerly awaiting fans.

“It’s incredible how one whistle changes everything,” John said. He would know. He was the one at the front of the pack, wearing an all-white uniform, his head cocked waaaaaay back, thrusting the mace into the air, blowing that whistle and high-stepping his way to lead the 380-plus-member Notre Dame Marching Band onto the field this year as drum major.

Click here to read the full Commencement feature.


Originally published by Sue Ryan at on May 15, 2023.