The bond of the Bertrand brothers goes beyond Notre Dame athletics
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “I think the thing that sticks out most is he is a nice person, he is a quality person,” says JD Bertrand, student athlete at the University of Notre Dame. “It is good because we are able to hold each other accountable like ‘hey I am going to church here you want to come.’ He definitely pushes us; he is more on top of it than I am, but I try to be like how he is.”
“If I had to describe him in one word it would be hard working, secondly probably caring, everything he does, he does with a purpose, so he tries to do basically whether on the field or off the field he does everything with the most intent that he can and to the highest standard,” says John Michael Bertrand, student athlete at the University of Notre Dame.
You might recognize JD Bertrand as the man behind the tackle, or John Michael Bertrand as the guy behind the strike. But this linebacker and pitcher share a connection way beyond their sports and stats.
“It has been a super special experience whether it is just like he comes over for a game night, or cooking or I mean we are just both likeminded people,” says JD.
“It is remarkable. It feels amazing; it is a very unique opportunity,” says John Michael. “Just thinking of all of the things we have been able to do; whether we are training together, doing extra stretching together, cooking together, getting food for each other. Maybe he had a long road weekend, or maybe I had a long road weekend in the spring, and he picks up some groceries for me. It is nice, and it is fun.”
The brothers followed very different paths to the golden dome. JD joined the Irish football team in 2019 straight out of high school. John Michael graduated from Furman University the following year, but his senior season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through perseverance, a support system, and a whole lot of faith, John Michael decided to keep playing no matter what and joined his brother at Notre Dame, his dream school.
“It means a lot to me, I try to remember daily when I go look at the field how wonderful it is and what we have because it can all be taken away so quickly and things can change very quickly,” says John Michael. “I never dreamed that I would be in the position that I am in today, and if I look back 5, 6 years ago like if you told me the things I have accomplished so far or where I would be at, I would say there is no way like it is just not possible. And now, I look to God, all things are possible through him.”
The brothers grew up playing outside together and credit their success to their parents.
“Our parents have done so much for us, our dad would travel 4, 5, sometimes 6 days a week just providing us, and you would see our mom running around jumping from practice to practice, picking up kids from school to school; but at the same making sure we are well rounded individuals, and making sure we are doing service and going to church, like just trying to make sure that we are the best people we can be,” says JD.
“My parents mean the world to me, they are a huge part of who I am, and how I have succeeded so far in my life," says John Michael. "It is funny because my dad grew up in Ireland playing rugby, so he did not know a lot about baseball or football for that matter, so a lot of times when we were growing up we had to explain the rules to him here and there. It is awesome because everything they do they are supporting us with as much love and passion as they possibly can.”
“Our parents would always say like hey after we fight they say ‘hey one thing you are brothers for life, tell each other you love each other.,’” says JD.
And with their love comes their faith, another key piece to the Bertrand brothers puzzle.
“It easy to forget when things are going well to thank God for all of his blessings and his gifts right, and inversely when things are going really tough for you, and you are having a rough go of it you are asking ah God why,” says John Michael.
“He has definitely pushed me in my faith, and I mean it is cool to be able to go a school like this where you have the chance to practice your faith, and it just makes it easier especially during a time like college where a lot of people steer away from it,” says JD.
One thing is for certain, no matter how far their futures might take them, these brothers will always show up for one another.
“For me I get more anxious for his games more than I do mine, like you cannot control anything and you just want him to do well,” says JD. “And it’s weird I feel almost like a parent like it’s so cool to see your brother’s success.”
“You will see him at all of my games if he does not have anything, practice or of the sort if he can,” says John Michael. “If not, he will record it and watch the replays with my older brother. I am really proud of the man he is becoming and just being a front row seat to it.”