Notre Dame football: Irish look to bond at camp

Bob Wieneke

Included on the list of what Shiloh Park Retreat and Conference Center in Marion, Ind., offers guests are a challenge course (with climbing walls and a zip line), a three-acre lake for kayaking and fishing, and all-season lodging accommodations for up to 350 visitors.

Also tucked in that list is a recreational area that provides, among other things, football fields.

Those football fields will be put to good use in early August after it was announced Thursday morning that the Notre Dame football team will open its 2013 training camp at Shiloh Park. The Irish will conduct four practices at the site, beginning on Aug. 5, before returning to campus on Aug. 9.

Marion is approximately 100 miles south/southeast of South Bend.

“Training camp is vital in terms of developing team unity, character, camaraderie and ultimately a focused and specific identity for the upcoming season,” fourth-year ND coach Brian Kelly said in a statement.

During the time in Marion, there will be no media access to the practices, nor will there be interviews with players or coaches. Kelly will meet with the media on Aug. 2 for his pre-camp press conference, with players available on Aug. 4. The first practice in full pads will be held Aug. 9, when the Irish return to the LaBar Practice Complex on campus.

Notre Dame training away from campus is not without precedent. Lou Holtz took his 1995 and 1996 Irish teams to Culver, Ind., to train at Culver Military Academy, which is located about 45 miles south of South Bend.

‘’We were forced to be together,’’ former Irish fullback Marc Edwards said in a 1995 story. ‘’There was no getting around it. We were all in it together — sweating together on the field and in the dorms. We didn’t have a choice but to get closer to each other.’’

A preseason move off campus also isn’t unprecedented under Kelly.

“We instituted a similar type off-site program for training camp at the University of Cincinnati,” said Kelly, who coached the Bearcats prior to coming to Notre Dame, “and it played a huge role in the success of our team.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.