Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT
Lauren Chval graduated from Notre Dame last May. She will be chronicling the 2013 season through the experience of being a first-time alumnus. You can follow her on Twitter at @lchval or check out her blog Image Moved about all things athletics and entertainment
Although I spent my senior season blogging to you from the Notre Dame Stadium student section, I watched many of my games as a student from the third floor of the press box. I was a student worker in an ugly polo and even uglier khakis, but I loved the perfect view, the stats being called around me, the ability to watch a replay, and, of course, the free food.
Watching a game from the press box is almost as homey and familiar to me as watching it from the student section—almost.
The Temple game was a jarring experience for me, sitting there just behind the marching band with all the other alumni. But for Michigan State, I got to return home—even if I wasn’t back in the student section. I was up in the press box again.
What was I doing back there, you ask? Well, today I get to announce that I’m returning to Notre Dame once more, and not just for a home game. I’ll be spending this school year as a Media Relations Assistant in the Athletic Department.
I wasn’t expecting to return. When I graduated in May (and all summer), I tried to make my peace with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be at Notre Dame anymore. When Media Relations offered me the job three weeks ago—the weekend of the season opener—I thought, “Don’t do it. You’re going to expect to feel like a student and you won’t. It won’t be the same, and nothing—not even taking a job at Notre Dame—can change that.”
I won’t deny that it’s different. Just last night I was walking around campus, and I could feel students glancing at me like they knew I didn’t belong. At first I thought I must just be imagining it, but then I realized I was carrying a purse. Students don’t carry purses on Sunday nights! They have backpacks. They study. I had accidentally given myself away.
Coming back to Notre Dame isn’t about reliving my time as a student. Being up in that press box on Saturday and watching our defense hold their own like I know they can reminded me that Notre Dame is home for reasons beyond the student section and the dorms and the dining hall.
Notre Dame football has been a part of me since I was a kid, going to my first game at Notre Dame Stadium at age seven, sitting with my mother and five-year-old brother. And now I’m choosing to be a part of it as an adult. It isn’t refusing to grow up, it’s just continuing to be who I’ve always been.
Last year, the Oklahoma game was a turning point for the 2012 team—it was a statement, a demonstration of proof. I was more nervous and excited for it than I had ever been for a football game up until that point in my life. Coming off this win against Michigan State, I’m eager to see this team continue to prove itself. And I’m eager to spend the week soaking in the atmosphere, no longer a student, but still a Notre Dame fan at home.
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