In reply to: The broken link: What has ND's football tradition meant to you? posted by Board Ops
Both of my parents understood the value of Catholic education and sacrificed greatly to send all five children through ND and St Mary’s. My mother was a great believer in music and arts and three of the five of us were in the band at ND. My older brother ended up a fine arts major. My sister was one of first 3 women to march in the band. I was about nine when I first started understanding and following ND football. Just in time to watch my sister in the band. I remember watching the ’73 NC game with Alabama and being jealous of my sister for her being able to be there. She married a Domer. So did I.
Since I started school in fall of 1980 I’ve missed 3 home games and have seen ND in 20 different venues. As a student, I suffered through the Faust era after an amazing week in New Orleans freshman year despite Devine’s last team’s loss to Georgia.
My mother enjoyed tailgating even when her health was failing. We might run into her aunt, whose husband scouted for Leahy in the 40’s and was mayor of South Bend for a while. Her aunt still goes to almost every home football and basketball game even in her 90’s. An uncle always came in from PA for 2-3 games a year. At the end my mom’s battle with cancer she needed a wheelchair pass to get to the stadium. She passed a few weeks after the 1988 NC win over WVU. She had encouraged us to travel to the Fiesta bowl and not worry about her – she’d watch from home. Her funeral mass was held in the Basilica and closed with the Alma Mater. My eyes now well up whenever I hear it now. She’s buried not far from my Grandpa in Cedar Grove.
My father in law was the ultimate subway alum. He was buried in an ND sweatshirt. He knew the history better than anyone I’ve met that isn’t an alum. He really “got” the whole ND thing. My mother in law gave me his memorabilia collection highlighted by a copy of the Denver Post with Rockne’s death as the banner headline.
Football helped make ND what it is, and ND helped make my family what it is. Losing the tradition of excellence on the field makes me feel like I’m losing something that is an important part of my family. My kids wear their jerseys and other ND gear, sing the Victory March and go out to the tailgate, but I want them to have a bit of what their great grandpa had. Winning football is part of that.