Nov 19, 2012, 11:43 AM EDT
In the most spectacular senior day that I—or anyone—could have imagined, there was a moment on Saturday that I know will always haunt me.
As a student section (but more specifically, as a senior class) we had already wrapped our arms around each other, preparing to sway. The band played the Victory March, and then we knew what was coming next.
“This is it,” my friend on my right said.
So final. So concrete. This is it. This is the end. This is your last alma mater as a student.
If I were anything other than a senior, this column could have been about so many things. Last night, as we celebrated our win (and Oregon and Kansas State’s losses), people kept asking me, “What are you going to write about?” I said I could write a book about everything that happened yesterday.
But I am a senior, and Wake Forest was my last home game. So I have to tell you about that moment. There is something so strange in realizing that in the midst of a perfect, shutout win in a continuingly perfect season, Notre Dame football is causing you a little bit of pain when it is causing everyone else pure, unadulterated joy.
We were in our own world yesterday. During halftime, we were contained to our marshmallow fight, only concerned with each other. After the game, we were on the field, taking pictures and pressing our faces to the grass. Just us—the seniors—and Notre Dame Stadium. In that moment, that very last moment, it was ours and no one else’s. We could only really feel it as it was slipping away.
We will never be contained like that again. We will never be together as everyone looks in on us. Next year, we will be the ones looking in. And God, that is a hard feeling to take.
But I will never forget that night. When I think about how we are number one in the country…one game away from playing for a national championship…one week away from a perfect season…I feel powerful. I feel confident. I feel elated beyond words.
So thank you, Stanford. Thank you, Baylor. You gave us the power to take this season into our own hands. It is ours to take now.
But regardless of what this week brings, what I will never, ever forget is crying during the alma mater. I will never forget how impossible it was do to the jig for the last time with marshmallows gluing our feet to the stands. I will never forget walking off that field, up the tunnel, and into the night.
This is it. This is the end. But I think it took until that end for me to really understand what it feels like to be Irish. Maybe Notre Dame didn’t belong to us before. Heavily steeped in tradition, it felt untouchable to us.
But we are a part of that tradition now. We will never stop being Irish.
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