I can't for the life of me remember when I started to love Notre Dame. It's been part of me for so long it seems like it's always been there. Credit Lindsay Nelson, I think. At the earliest ages, I remember Sunday mornings and "Notre Dame Highlights". Watching Hanratty to Seymour. Theisman to Gatewood. Clements to Demmerle. And then reliving those moments with my buddies on my backyard gridiron.
New Year's Day Cotton Bowls in the late 60's against the Longhorns. New Year's Eve Sugar Bowls against the Crimson Tide in the early 70s. Robin Weber catches the greatest pass a Notre Dame quarterback has ever thrown from Tom Clements to ice the Bear. Erik Penick's 83 yard touchdown run to crush SC. Anthony Davis dancing on his knees in the end zone... Damn him to eternal hell.
Sitting in a McDonald's in Scranton, PA with my Mom, after visiting the University of Scranton, one of my potential college choices. Mom asks, "Where do you really want to go?" "Well, I want to go to Notre Dame, but I don't know whether you and Dad can afford it." And then Mom telling me she and my father will find a way to do it, if I can get in.
Dad telling me that if they were going to spend that kind of money on an education, that he'd rather see me going to Princeton where he always dreamed of being able to send one of his sons. Me looking back at Dad and trying to explain to him that although Princeton was a great school, it just wasn't Notre Dame.
Several months later being called out of class to the principles office only to find Mom standing there with tears in her eyes, holding my acceptance letter to ND. Congratulations all around from the school staff and getting to walk back to my Physics class to tell my classmates I was going to Notre Dame.
Driving west through the hills of Pennsylvania, and flatlands of Ohio and Indiana and seeing the Golden Dome for the very first time as I rolled in to Freshmen Orientation...