In reply to: The broken link: What has ND's football tradition meant to you? posted by Board Ops
I looked at many schools in the college tour the summer of my sophomore year in high school. I was convinced that I could get as good an education and have as good a college experience at many places as I could at Notre Dame...and I could be my own man.
Then, during the fall of my sophomore year in high school, my Dad put me on a plane to South Bend, so that I could visit my brother at Notre Dame for a football weekend. It was ND-Tennessee. November 11, 1978. I had been to one game at ND stadium with my Dad when I was 8 or 9, but I didn't really remember it.
This time around, I went to a pep rally in the Stepan Center and revelled with the throngs of toilet-paper throwers. I went to the Alumni Hall kegger the morning of the game, and had an ice cold beer on an ice cold Indiana morning. My brother got me a ticket to sit (stand) in the student section for the game. I crammed in like a lemming...standing sideways just so that I could stand at all. A simple plan or divine intervention? Whatever the cause, this football experience made me fall in love with Notre Dame.
From the moment I stepped on campus, I should have immediately abandoned all thoughts of anywhere other than Notre Dame. As I was pulling up to the campus circle, the band was marching between Alumni Hall and the law school, firing up the Victory March. It was almost as if my father had planned the whole thing.
I applied to only one school -- ND. In an effort to "remain my own man", I refused to note on the application that my father and brother were alums. I got in on my own accord....Yeah...I was stupid and brash.
After hearing nothing from the admissions office in January of 1981, I called the admissions office on the day before the Irish v. UVA basketball game. I spoke with the director of admissions, Mr. McGoldrick, who informed me that there had been a screw-up on my file and my teacher recommendation had been placed in another file. He asked, "Do you want to know if you got in?" When I responded that I wanted to root against Ralph Sampson the next day, he told me that I had been accepted and my packet was in the mail.
Now, when my father, who is 83, my brother and I get together or talk on the phone, there is always the bond of Notre Dame football. No matter what the occasion, the topic of discussion invariably turns from discussions about our kids, our jobs, and the serious issues of life to a talk about next year's hopes for an undefeated season.
ND football did not create a close family, but it sure has brought us together in conversation many, many times over the years -- even during times when we didn't get along as well as I might hope.
The bond of ND football tradition is personal. ND football tradition means shared passion. It means shared glory. And, yes, as much as I hate it, it means shared despair. But, it is always shared.