Oct 9, 2013, 8:54 AM 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.
Traditions are undeniably a part of Notre Dame. Talk to anyone who cares about this school and they will tell you one of the most defining aspects of Notre Dame is how strongly rooted it is in traditions.
And our traditions come from all kinds of times and places. I can’t imagine a freshman not having to endure the awkwardness of Frosh-O, but my dad assures me that wasn’t a part of Notre Dame when he stepped on campus in 1977. The leprechaun wasn’t established as the mascot of the Fighting Irish until the 1960s, Notre Dame didn’t play college football until 1887 (over 40 years after the school was established), and Cavanaugh used to be a dudes’ dorm.
Our traditions are old and new, but sometimes we get a little touchy when someone tries to change them. When I came back to campus for the Temple game, I noticed a good amount had already changed at my former home. The new Morris Inn was completed and beautiful, but it wasn’t my Morris Inn where my dad and I stayed when I came on my “official” visit as a senior in high school (approximately my billionth time on campus). And the landscaping! How many new sidewalks and trees and bushes did we need? We’re talking about a ridiculous amount of new tulips.
I could hear the crotchety old person-ness in my complaints—the very attitude I used to mock as a student. I’ve come to realize this year that it’s impossible to keep campus from changing. It’s going to expand and morph and change faster than I can keep up with it; that’s how it’s supposed to be.
So I guess it makes a little more sense to me now why so many alumni are against changes in our football program and Notre Dame Stadium itself. A couple of years ago when they added speakers for playing music and everyone got all upset, I thought to myself, “Jeez, what’s the big deal? Things change. Did you really want everything to be exactly as it was forever?”
And the answer is yes.
We want everything inside the stadium to be exactly as it was when we were students because everything outside the stadium is changing daily. We want the helmets to stay gold, the jerseys to stay blue and the field to stay grass. We want that beautiful stadium to remain a time capsule of Notre Dame and its greatness.
The Shamrock Series is a great example of new traditions and how change can be a positive thing if we keep an open mind. It’s a flashy, glamorous thing—tricked-out uniforms, different travel destinations and massive stadiums. It’s a chance for us to recruit to those kids who like the latest in uniform trends, but also for our players to gain experience on bigger stages and to learn to keep their focus amongst more distractions.
These changes are good for our team. The fact that we’re 5-0 in our Shamrock Series games proves that point. And maybe it’s not how my dad remembers Notre Dame football, but it’s helping to preserve what he loved about it—that we were and are an elite program that attracts the best.
That’s a tradition that isn’t going anywhere.
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