Sep 1, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT
I’ve been around Notre Dame football for as long as I can remember. Those little girls you see on TV during ND games wearing the Notre Dame cheerleader uniforms—that was me. Before that, I was singing the Victory March and reciting the championship coaches (“Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine, Holtz!”) as soon as my dad could get me to speak. When I was a kid, our summer vacations consisted of coming to South Bend to stay in the non-air conditioned dorms, swim in St. Joseph’s Lake and romp around campus.
I have always been of Notre Dame.
But I will tell you—it is different being a student at Notre Dame. I am sure this is something that every alumnus would say. Being of Notre Dame and being at Notre Dame are two very different things.
This is my last year at Notre Dame. I know I will never stop being of this place, but I also know that this is my last year of a truly unique experience. With that in mind, I intend to chronicle the emotional rollercoaster I am about to begin—or have already begun with this morning’s game against Navy.
As inspiring as today’s opener in Ireland was (did anyone else get chills during CBS’s opening video, complete with an Irish-accented voiceover?), it felt a little odd to be viewing the first game of the season on TV.
Campus quieted early last night. We crawled into bed like we do on Christmas Eve—giddy and nervous with sleep staying elusive for longer than usual. My excitement competed with my nerves. This is my last year. My last season opener. What if, what if, what if?
What if it all goes wrong?
A 2 p.m. game in Ireland means a 9 a.m. start in South Bend, and I have never seen campus so active so early on a Saturday morning. Notre Dame students were not going to let the early hour dampen their enthusiasm for football, plain and simple. Local bars had Bloody Mary specials and kegs and eggs, enticing students to come out, but you couldn’t walk two feet on campus without running into another game watch.
My friends and I crowded in the common room of a quad, surrounded by bagels, orange juice and muffins baked the night before. Some of the guys were too jittery to sit, so they hovered by the door, pacing and shoving their hands into their hair. Every time Golson launched the ball up, we gasped. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Please, no turnovers this year. Please let this year be different. Let this year be the year.
The year for what though? The year we win a national championship? The year we go undefeated? I can’t jinx my blissful and anxious mind with thoughts that grand. Not yet. Right now, on the wave of our first win and my last year, I ask that this be the year that we are different. Let this be the year that we are strong, that we are smart, that we play Notre Dame football as it is meant to be played. Let this be the year that we wake up the echoes.
And when I cry, let it be for good reasons and for the fact that this is my last year at Notre Dame.
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