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Five Foot Nothing: Go On Back

Aug 26, 2013, 12:11 PM EDT


A year ago, I wrote my first post for “Senior Season,” a column I pitched that would chronicle the emotional experience of being a senior in the Notre Dame Stadium student section. We had just beaten Navy in Ireland, and I could have never imagined what was in store for us in the remarkable 2012 football season.

I wrote about how I was learning the difference between being at Notre Dame and being of Notre Dame—you can be of Notre Dame your whole life, but only at it for a short and magical window of time.

I am no longer at Notre Dame. That short and magical window of time closed for me last May when I crossed the graduation stage, and I can tell you that I have spent the last three months grappling with what that means. This week was especially hard, as all of the remaining students that I know (including my younger brother) returned to Notre Dame and proceeded to plaster social media with the painful reality that while they were back home, I was not.

Being a Notre Dame alum is being homesick for a place to which you can never really return. It is a hopelessly heartbreaking situation. So when Strong and True asked me to blog about the season once again, I thought, “How could I? I’m no longer at Notre Dame. I can’t go back. What do I know about anything?”

I can only hope that this distressing frame of mind lessens with time. After all, though I was writing for the students last year, many of the responses I received were from alumni.

So this year, I ask you to come on another journey with me. It may not be as starry-eyed and joyous, and sometimes I may be speaking to you from my lonely couch instead of from the community of the stands, but I am still of Notre Dame. We all are.

It is for this reason that I’m calling this new column “Five Foot Nothing.” Many of you will recognize it as being from a quote in the movie Rudy.

“You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for two years. And you’re gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen. Now go on back.”

In the grand scheme of Notre Dame, I am five foot nothing. I have no miraculous football insight, no unique vantage point—hell, I’m not even a student anymore. But my heart has been just as deep into this school and this football team as anybody’s, and it’s time for me to go back. I know it’s not the same as moving my stuff up to the third floor of Cavanaugh, but my heart is going back to Notre Dame. That’s where it belongs.


This content can also be found on Image Moved, my personal blog about all things entertainment and athletics. Click here to read more.

  1. frant12 - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Great post, Lauren. Don’t worry, the first few years after graduation are extremely fun, too!
    I just wrote a Notre Dame preview in which I detail my memories and associations about every team on ND’s schedule. Check it out if you’re still feeling nostalgic:

    • Lauren Chval - Aug 28, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Definitely still feeling nostalgic. I’ll be nostalgic all year (and maybe forever, who knows). I’m going to be at the Temple game this weekend, so I’m all ready to make some new memories, and then we’ll see where the season takes me from there.

  2. alaskandomer - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Hi Lauren,

    Even after 40 years, I still remember how weird it felt coming back to ND for the first time after graduating. While everything was familiar, and some of my friends were still there, I no longer had a room . That realization was jolting. When I return to ND this year (For the Navy game), I know it will feel, as it always does, like I’ve come home again.

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