Before I began this post I managed to dig up some fun and interesting stuff on the band and the Irish Guard, so will be editing my last post, ND Way Part 3, accordingly. Please go back and read it again!
When last I left off, we were headed into the stadium for the game. I got a crick in my neck just looking around at the plaques of all the gridiron greats who attended or coached there. Heisman Trophy Winners such as Johnny Lattner ’53, Paul Hornung ’56, and Tim Brown ’87. NFL Hall of Famers like Joe Montana, Curly Lambeau, Dave Casper, and Nick Buoniconti. Legendary, storied coaches like Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Lou Holtz, Knute Rockne. And what of the 4 Horseman? This 1924 backfield remains Immortal. And their influence – indelibly stamped on every Fighting Irishman (and woman) since. My goosebumps got goosebumps. ( and that’s saying something- for someone who ISN’T a die -hard football fan)
We made our way in, and up -to our seats. The bench seats are narrow and extremely hard. Trust me, when you no longer have a “cushion” built into your tushie, you feel it – so I was grateful for some extra padding, and that my Uncle had the foresight to bring some mini cushions. I spent the next half hour or so just gawking at everything. We had nosebleed seats, but good ones – in the corner on the broadcast booth side, right across from “Touchdown Jesus”. And there we were -80,000 strong- sweltering in the early September heat. And I do mean SWELTERING. I’d made the mistake of wearing long jeans, and a lycra Fighting Irish Leprechaun top. All of which literally stuck to me like glue. I looked like a drowned rat. Our neighbors were just as sodden, but very nice – and we settled in for an enjoyable afternoon. Several private jets flew low and slow over the stadium on their way out of South Bend. Some military jets (F-16’s I think) did a fly over on ‘burner. Most impressive!
Segue to game time, first quarter, and picture this: Me, on my feet, screaming like the proverbial Irish Banshee “GET HIM”! “RUN”! “GO!” I have absolutely no idea who I was screaming to, or what I was yelling about. Those around me hid their amusement at the NKOTB well. At least, they didn’t laugh out loud at me. My only defense at this display of Irish Fever is it seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.
Sadly, our boys on the field of battle were not doing so well. This may or may not have contributed to my frenzied vocalizations (I’ll never tell!)The University of Southern Florida had come to kick ass and take names. Those boys are used to playing in the heat – and it showed. My Irish had become desperate and there began a flurry of violation calls from the refs. Off sides, helmet-grabbing, and false starting to name a few. Don’t ask me what they mean, suffice it to say things were not going well. The grumbling in the stands began. “Thats not the Notre Dame Way!’ was something I heard over and over. And then as we wound our way to halftime, the sky started getting dark, VERY dark. The grumbling in the stands became matched by the rumbling in the sky….
Sure enough, it was announced that a severe thunderstorm was on its way in, and the stadium was being evacuated (!) as a safety precaution. Notre Dame is sensitive about safety. Particularly after 2010 – a student photographer up on a standing crane lost his life (taking pictures of the team from above) when the crane toppled over in a freak wind gust. This marked the FIRST TIME EVER that the game was being delayed on account of the weather, and the first time the stadium had ever been evacuated. So there we were, all 80,000 of us, soaked to the skin between the sweat and the rain -patiently waiting to leave. It took 45 minutes, by the way. No fuss, no pushing, no cussing, no rude behavior. The Notre Dame way – INDEED.
Rather anticlimactically, we decided that we would head back to the pub to have a nice supper (Shepherd’s Pie and Guinness, anyone?) and watch the rest of the game in relative comfort. However, the game was still going on when we finished our meal, so we headed on home. The delay was significant enough that we got back before it ended, and finished watching it on TV. I forget the score (we lost) but I will NEVER forget what a great time I had. Not only did I learn to like college football, I met some amazing people on the way.
So, just what is the Notre Dame Way? Its about Courtesy and Respect, certainly. Its about giving back – to the school and the community. As shown by the famous alumni who return game after game and sign autographs for hours on end. Its not about self-promotion. In fact, the members of the Irish Guard do not talk about their accomplishments on or off the football field. Its about friendship, a sense of belonging, and family. I saw this clearly in every student’s smiling face. And on every Blue T-Shirt in the stadium that day. They made this Northeast Yankee Girl feel like part of the family -AND IT WAS AMAZING!
LET’S GO IRISH!!!!!
Links of Interest: Fighting Irish Band