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Senior Season: The Ending

Jan 8, 2013, 1:50 PM EST

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I don’t want to talk about silver linings or graduation rates. I don’t want to say, “Well, at the end of the day, I still go to a great school.” I’m irritated at the people who are posting that they’re glad they didn’t go to Miami.

It hurts. It better hurt. If it didn’t, it would mean that I wasn’t invested, that I didn’t care, that this season didn’t mean everything I said it did. If losing didn’t hurt, winning wouldn’t mean anything.

I thought I was doing all right last night. I was in the locker room after the game and listened to Theo Riddick cry and Cierre Wood say that they had messed up. If possible, my heart broke even more than it already had. I had it together though. I was grateful for this season, for this experience, for all of the emotions I was able to experience over the past four months.

But then I got back to our condo. I’ve been sleeping in a shirt that I bought at the end of finals week. “Undefeated Season,” it says. Undefeated. And I realized I couldn’t wear that shirt anymore. I couldn’t go to sleep in it. And I don’t know why that was my breaking point, but it was, and I just started crying.

I’m sad and I’m angry and I’m hurt. This season was magical and I will love it forever, but this isn’t how I wanted it to end. I know we got more than we could have ever hoped for, but I didn’t dream with a rational mind. I left all control of expectations back at the Stanford game.

I stood on the field as the clock ticked down, crimson raining down from above and running onto the field. Confetti exploded around me. But it wasn’t for us. It wasn’t ours.

I hated to see our players run toward the tunnel and face the thousands of cheering Alabama fans, pom poms shaking in their direction.

But the best part of my night was seeing this little kid, maybe 12 years old. He and his dad were the lone Notre Dame fans near the tunnel. This kid was in the shirt from 2011, holding a football and cheering the players as they went into the tunnel, finally defeated. That’s the kind of fans Notre Dame has always had and should always have and will always have. The ones who stay til the end, cheer on their team, still proud, and then cry with them after.

Maybe someday that kid will get to go to Notre Dame, get to cheer on his team, get to go to a national championship. Maybe he’ll even get to see them win.

But I know this game didn’t make him love Notre Dame less. It only made him want that dream more.

So that’s the end of my senior season. It won’t go up on a banner, it won’t be one for the ages, it won’t be what people point to as a shining moment for Notre Dame football. But it is still my senior season–a magical, Cinderella season–and I will sleep in that shirt again. It still means something to me.

  1. irish317mbp - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Lauren,

    As a life long Notre Dame fan, I’m feeling a little blue today… Last night definitely didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. There was no trophy or confetti for my beloved team. That being said, WELL DONE, MEN… YOU gave me and many others who bleed blue and gold the ride of a lifetime. We cheered and believed when no one even gave you a chance. We took a staND and are still PROUD to staND for a team with so much integrity and class. While last night may have been “the” night for your opponent, it was “THE” night that the entire IRISH NATION stood tall. Today I celebrate an AWESOME SEASON. Thanks for the MAGIC and know that no matter what, I’m still behiND the IRISH!!!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Jean Boocher - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Dear Lauren, What a beautiful letter. I have those same thoughts, but can’t put them to words. Thank you so much for your time. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blogs. I hope happiness and pride return quickly to the players hearts. Certainly, last night was heartbreaking, but, the first 12 games, what wonderful memories the team have given the Notre Dame Nation! Thank you for putting the shine back on the dome, Fighting Irish! What a magical season it was! As always, GO IRISH! Jean Boocher, Baker, ND Bakeshop

    Reply
  3. ndgiants11 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Lauren,

    I’ve kept up for your blog throughout the season and just wanted to say thanks for the excellent job you’ve done – throughout the entire season, you continually put things in perspective and gave a great insight to people like me that never had the chance to attend Notre Dame. It’s the strangest thing: despite having no direct link to Notre Dame, I feel as though I’m part of its family. Thanks for all the great writing all year, we loved your writing and a great season all the way over here in Rochester, New York!

    Reply
  4. americanwithabrain - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    As a lifelong, 54 year old Notre Dame fan residing in Mobile, Alabama (where it hasn’t been easy being a Notre Dame fan since 1966), I’d like to say “Thank You” to each and every young man on the 2012 Notre Dame Football Team. Thanks for bringing Notre Dame back, thanks for the way you represented yourself and your school, and just thanks for being Notre Dame men.

    GO IRISH!!!!!!

    Reply
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