Players on Notre Dame's defensive line get cookie sacks for every sack
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame Assistant Coach Mike Elston is leading one of the stoutest D-lines in the nation. At work, he's responsible for 15 of the toughest defensive linemen in the country, but when he comes home, he's daddy to three little girls.
Balancing the life of a football coach with the responsibilities of being a dad can be tough but Elston's wife Beth has found a way to make the guys and girls one big happy family - and it all starts in the kitchen.
"You have to have a meaty cookie for a defensive linemen. It has to be a meal," Beth said. "We've got to have a man cookie."
Mike has been coaching for 20 years.
He got his start at Eastern Michigan and worked his way up the ranks at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He is in his eighth season at Notre Dame.
"I just decided to make cookies one night and I saw the reaction from the boys. They're away from home, they miss their family and it made me feel so good to do something nice for them so I just decided to make it a tradition," Beth said. "And then as our kids came along in the last 12 years, I found a way to involve them."
Their daughters, 13-year-old Olivia, 11-year-old Sophie and 8-year-old Isabella, love cheering for the Irish and helping mom in the kitchen.
For this baking session Beth and the girls invited Allison's daughter Emery to help out.
Before the tasting begins, there's a lot of work and love that goes into each cookie.
A typical batch is 8 dozen cookies.
"I usually send in a big batch. The boys that get sacks the game before get their own 'sack' of cookies. And my girls have enjoyed decorating those sacks over the years. They are getting more elaborate as the years go on," Beth said.
"We put the name of who gets the sack on top and then we'll put, like, 'Kurt's Sack of Cookies' and then we'll design footballs and shamrocks all around the whole bag," the girls said.
"So, Kurt had two sacks, so me and Sophie will do one. Then Daelin, I will do his. Julian's, Sophie will do his. Drue's: Olivia and Emery. Then Te'Von's, Olivia will do his," Isabella said.
Each cookie sack includes a special message to the guys.
"Daelin, You did a great job at the game. Love, Izzy PS- Tell us how you like the cookies," Isabella said.
Sophie made a special request of Kurt when he does a celebration dance.
"Yeah, he's got to rub his belly so we know he liked the cookies," Sophie said.
In 12 games this season, the Irish have combined for 31 sacks. That's a lot of cookies.
"It's a great way to make them feel a part of the program. And that they're supporting their dad and the players as well," Beth said.
Being a football coach is not a 9-to-5 job.
Mike spends a lot of time away from home and sometimes has to miss out on his girls' events, but fortunately his players have his back.
The girls have made special connections with several of the guys over the years, like Jarron Jones and Jaylon Smith.
And current Irish sophomore Kurt Hinish filled in at last year's daddy-daughter dance. That earned him a shout out on social media.