SOUTH BEND — For former Notre Dame linebacker Adam Shibley, it was important that Saturday’s TUFF Takeoff tour at Saint Joseph High School was both affordable and fun.
Over 30 active Irish football players have pledged to help Shibley with the youth football camp at Leighton Stadium. The 2-4pm session is open to children entering grades four through eight, while the 6-8pm session is for those entering grades nine through ten.
In return, the Uniform Funding Foundation (TUFF) is asking for a donation of at least $1 as it continues to expand its mission of providing uniforms, equipment and mentorship to underserved youth. South Bend Orthopedics is one of the major sponsors of the event.
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“Putting these players in front of young people who might not have the money to pay for a $150 camp, that’ll be it,” Shibley said recently on the ‘Pod of Gold’ podcast. “You will learn directly from the players who are coached by Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees. Being able to relay these messages and these concepts directly to young athletes for $1 or $10, it doesn’t matter, it’s priceless for these families.
Current Notre Dame stars Tyler Buchner, Michael Mayer and Isaiah Foskey have given permission to use their likenesses in promotional materials for the event, which is the second of its kind for TUFF. Among those also expected to be in attendance as advisors are Marist Liufau, Cam Hart and a host of rookies expected this fall.
“It’s great to see my teammates making a lot of money from other companies (via NIL),” Shibley said, “but coming to work for a nonprofit in a way that they don’t care about. really getting a lot of pay, that shows me what great guys these people are. The guys’ willingness to serve the community has been amazing.”
Shibley founded the organization during his four-year career at Michigan, where he was among the 2021 Big Ten Medal of Honor winners for demonstrating excellence on and off the court. In May, he earned a master’s degree in management as a graduate transfer to Notre Dame, playing six games in a special teams role before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
Shibley, who grew up in the Cleveland area and played at St. Ignatius High School, started his nonprofit after thinking about driving around surrounding neighborhoods for practice during his high school summers.
“There would be children lining the streets in the summer, raising money for their upcoming football seasons,” he said. “It always stuck with me because I never had to do that being a child in the suburbs. I was lucky to have new equipment every year. I didn’t have to worry about the cost of payment to play.
While active college athletes often appear as counselors at college-sponsored summer skills camps, Shibley thought it was important to run this as an independent business. Along with walk-in wide receiver Conor Ratigan, a product of Saint Joseph, Shibley began working on the Saturday schedule a few months ago.
“If you were to go to a Notre Dame football scouting camp, there are guys who get paid to be there,” Shibley said. “Obviously their coaches are on the pitch with them, so you’re not going to see their real personality. In that player-led environment… we’ll be able to shout, have fun, get the energy up. The guys will feel at home We’re going to create a really fun keepsake for a lot of these kids.
Writer Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for the South Bend Tribune and NDInsider.com. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino.