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Senior Season: Finding A Way

Nov 5, 2012, 9:36 AM EDT

How many miracles can there be in a single game? And how likely is it that they all come sometime after the third quarter?

I wasn’t worried at halftime. Things were looking shaky at halftime against BYU, but still the Irish prevailed. When our team ran onto the field for the second half, I thought, “OK, here comes the team that beat Oklahoma. Here comes the team that beat Stanford. Here comes my team.”

The atmosphere on campus was remarkable this week—for the first time since the start of the season, no one was nervous. From the moment we beat Oklahoma, all anyone could talk about was USC…winning out…a national championship…

All those who think they have it made, take one step forward.

Not so fast, Irish fans. Not so fast.

I was hoping for a nice, quiet game to write about. I would have waxed philosophic to you about the many stepping-stones on the way to a historic season, and how this was just another one of them. Turns out it our game against Pitt was not just another stepping-stone, but the most nerve-wracking and panic-inducing game that I have ever witnessed from the student section.

I think for a while, everyone had the same attitude I did. We were still loud, still laughing, still sure of the final outcome.

Oh, Notre Dame. They always do this to us. Always have to keep things interesting.

And then the terror set in. The fourth quarter came and we were down by 14. The missed extra point. The interception right as we were about to score. Three minutes left in the game and still down by eight.

Oh my God. This is our season. This is it.

I tried to think about what it would be like if we lost. What would it be like to watch the Boston College game next weekend as an 8-1 team? No one would be talking about us, and if they did it would be with laughter. No Manti for Heisman. No national championship dreams. No “Notre Dame is back.”

What would it be like for me? For us? For the students—the team included? If Notre Dame were to lose, what would we lose? Our senior season shattered. “Our time” reduced to another season like 1993 or 2002. Would we lose that community? Would we lose that feeling of closeness that I had last week after the Oklahoma game?

Would those wins and moments still mean something? Would they still mean as much?

I had a lot of really irrational thoughts during the fourth quarter.

If we lose, I thought, I will make Dad drive me home and I will quit this semester. How could I ever be expected to go to class after a loss like this? How could anyone expect me to ever find joy in anything ever again?

The celebration at Golson’s two-point rush was deafening. How did that happen? What were the odds? Tied, with just two minutes left in the game. We hugged and screamed and held each other with just as much love as we felt during that Stanford game.

Three overtimes. A fumble in the endzone. A missed field goal by Pitt. And a rushing touchdown by Golson to end the game.

The headline on the Sports Illustrated website reads “Good and Lucky.” We have proven ourselves good, but last night proved us lucky. Something was on our side. As Brian Kelly said, “We found a way to win.”

Last night was not the best our team has ever looked, but man, we fought for that joy. Those moments that I have been fortunate enough to get in my senior season will be with me always, no matter what happens in the rest of this season. But I want more than that. I want them to be in everyone’s memory always. I want us to be a part of history.

  1. irishswan7 - Nov 5, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    You have a wonderful writing style and I hope you use it in the future, too. Many of us shared your terror.
    I felt like I had played in that game, what with all the body English, leaping up, pounding sofas. We Irish fans are an amazing and disparate lot. I have loved and followed them since I was about 9, sixty years now, and I’m still full of it. Saw them play SC a lot when I lived in L.A., once at Stanford, met Lou, but my dream is to see a game at South Bend. For now, my ritual this season has been to wear my high top black Chuck Taylor’s with neon green shoe laces (you can see them on facebook). Being Irish involves rituals and superstitions, don’t you know.
    You go, girl. GO IRISH!

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