At first, Kelly did not seem too thrilled to take his team across the border to Southeast Indiana, but once he and his staff experienced what Higher Ground offered, there was no turning back. Now, Kelly and the Irish are looking to see if they can use the facility with two turf fields and the ability to house and feed an entire football team for a few days at the start of camp next summer.
According to sources close to the Higher Ground facility, Notre Dame has been in contact with the West Harrison, Indiana facility about bringing the Irish down for several days prior to Cincinnati reporting. Irish Eyes has also learned that it looked like a date was ready to be set but the University of Cincinnati made changes to the dates they planned on reporting for next year and talks have slowed.
The Higher Ground facility sits on 264 acres and has really become a success story over the years. Its history started in 1963 when the land found its first use for a Boys Club camp for 15 years. In the late 70's, the club closed as a camp and it sat empty for a few years. In 1980 the Southwestern Ohio District Church of the Nazarene purchased the property and turned it into a summer kid's camp.
Because of its size and need to find more financial support, a lodge was constructed and the facility saw use from church groups on the weekends and an occasional band camp. These events led to what has now become a facility the University of Cincinnati football program and marching band use on a yearly bases. It has also found several high school teams using it for summer mini-camps each summer.
In 1996, University of Cincinnati head football coach Rick Minter held the first pre-season camp at Higher Ground. Since Minter, Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly have found the facilities to be first class with the added locker room and shower facility and the completion of a new dining hall just a short walk from the two turf practice fields.
With a staff of 33 responsible for feeding a group of roughly 150 players and staff three times a day, High Ground has tweaked it menu over the years and now includes a pasta bar, deli bar, dessert bar and a fruit bar to go with the staples of beef, chicken, pork or fish.
At the time of this report no date has been set for Notre Dame to use the camp facility for the 2011 season. The University of Cincinnati has first take on the use of the facility, but the Higher Ground staff is excited that Brian Kelly is considering bringing the Irish to a place they feel provides one of the best environments to prepare for a challenging football season.
Irish Eyes will continue to follow up and see if the Irish end up reserving time for next season's camp.