Jan 8, 2013, 1:50 PM EST
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.
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