In reply to: The broken link: What has ND's football tradition meant to you? posted by Board Ops
My Godfather ran into us at a mall and saw me wearing that jacket. I always had fun with this man and he was nothing but nice to me, but when he saw that jacket he grabbed a handful, looked at my mother and said "Why the hell is he wearing this god damned jacket!?!" The next day I had a new jacket that was instantly cooler because it was reversible. On one side it was navy blue with a school crest on the left breast. The other side was grey with two words on the back, "Notre Dame". I had no idea what those words meant but I did know that many of my realitives now complained about my jacket. "Why, it's brand-new" would often be my response, but they hated that jacket.
Two years later my friends and I were running around the play ground choosing up football teams and when I asked which team was Notre Dame, my friends told me I couldn't play. They only rooted for UofM and MSU because those were the best teams and Notre Dame sucked! Or so I was told. That was when I decided to find out exactly who and what Notre Dame was and why they were so hated.
When I asked my father and godfather who ND was, I was told stories about Knute Rockne, The Four Horseman, Paul Horning, Frank Lahey, and someone with the same first name as me eating some chicken noodle soup and beating a team in some bowl. When I asked why most of my friends hated ND, I was told it was ignorance. Those kids didn't know the history of ND and how good ND was. They told me that people had forgotten ND's greatness because they had been down for a few years, but they had a new coach named Lou Holtz that was going to do great things for ND. This was the spring of '87.
Being Irish Catholic, my father also tried to explain to me that ND was a place you go to learn about academics and faith. He said it was kind of like going to my regular school and catechism all at once. I guess that was the best way to describe it to an 8 year old.
So in the fall of '87, I was introduced to Notre Dame football. I was allowed to stay up late and see Tim Brown return 2 punts against Michigan State. I also saw ND beat UofM and wondered what these friends of mine were talking about. At the end of the year I watched as some people gave Tim Brown an award as the best football player in the country. Did my friends have ND confused with some other school? It appeared to me that they had no idea what the hell they were talking about.
The next year I watched as ND won the National Championship and I was hooked. My favorite player of all time single handedly beat UofM the next year with 2 kick returns for TD's and ND could not lose. Even though they lost to Miami that year, I still hadn't "felt" a ND loss. That would come in 1990. On my birthday. To Penn State. While all my friends were over I watched in horror as ND lost at home while ranked #1. How could they, on my birthday! Then came the Orange Bowl when Rocket saved the day only to have it ripped from him and the rest of the team by a ref. That was the first time I cried because of a ND loss.
This was the time I first learned what ND was about. I had to go to school the next day and I just wanted to stay home. My mother was getting me up and telling me that I had to go to school when the phone rang. It was my godfather. He told me that ND fans held their heads high, win or lose and they support the team no matter what. He told me I should wear every piece of ND clothing I had to show my friends that I supported ND at all times. So I went to school wearing my Notre Dame sweatshirt with a ND t-shirt under, my ND jacket, ND sweatpants, ND hat, and my brand new ND bag to carry my books. My friends were so shocked they didn't know what to say.
I did not have the good fortune to attend ND as an undergrad. I attended MSU and cheered for ND every time they played. I am currently studying to take the GMAT and my choices are ND or bust. If that doesn't get me in, I will try again or try another area of study to get into ND. I will do what ever it takes to attend the University of Notre Dame.
To me, ND represents a fighting sprirt. It was that spirit that helped me go to school and face my friends after a ND loss, and it is that spirit that will make me work my tail off so that I can attend this school.