It’s been incredibly difficult to start this blog in a way that is creative and appealing to the readers. How do I put into words that I just experienced my first of many lasts? What emotions am I experiencing? Does football really mean that much to me? What is so special about Notre Dame Stadium when I can always come back? These are the questions that I have been grappling with since Saturday, November 18, 2023 when I experienced my last home football game as a student at Notre Dame.
It’s still so surreal to say those words out loud. My last home game! Everyone talks about this game - the marshmallow throwing, getting to go on the field, taking pictures, singing the alma mater for the last time after a game, and everything in between. I remember watching the seniors do all of this for the past three years and not thinking much about it. Now as I have experienced it for myself, it’s hard to believe how quick the last 4 years have gone by.
I really wasn’t a football fan before ND. My mom has loved the sport for as long as I remembered, but she was never able to get me to love it the same. Notre Dame changed that for me. I don’t think it’s the actual sport that made me excited to go to (and understand) the games, but rather the undeniable spirit and support that fans bring to the stadium. The community that ND Football brings is truly unlike any other. I’ve had the chance to attend other school’s games because of visiting friends from back home and their passion for their team is simply not the same. Some schools don’t have a student section for each class, others don’t care about watching the game, or simply don’t attend. Notre Dame is anything but that. I love Notre Dame football beyond the sport and winning the game, but because I get to befriend the players on the team in my classes. Because of the camaraderie that the team brings onto the field. Because of the thousands of people that it attracts to South Bend. Because of the touchdown push ups. Because I love the Irish.
I was surprised when I didn’t cry at the end of the game, when we wrapped our arms around each other and sang the alma mater. I watched as some people around me burst into full sobs and tears over their sadness at the experience. Others had soft smiles on their faces or looked hopeful at each other and the experiences they had felt at this place. People lying on the field taking pictures and videos. More students running around pretending to be football players. Some just sit or stand there taking it all in. The diversity of emotions and reactions was the first shock I experienced at how little time we spend at this place I like to call my home (under the dome of course) and how different our experiences have been. It was beautiful to get to watch how each person chose to accept this feeling and this moment.
I don’t think I cried, not because I wasn’t sad, but more so because I am grateful. I lived my time at this stadium to the fullest. I participated in each chant, waved my arm around and screamed “GO. IRISH.” at every kick off, made it on the jumbotron my sophomore year, stormed the field (twice), walked out of the Knute Rockne tunnel, sat in the front row, and so much more. I have no regrets about my experience of Notre Dame Football. I attended each game and made the most of them no matter the circumstances. I am so so grateful for my time rooting on the Irish.
It is crazy to say that the next time I will step foot on Notre Dame Stadium is when I graduate in May of 2024. It feels a LONG ways away, but in a blink of an eye, I know that I’ll be sitting on that chair on the field, throwing my cap in the air. For now, I will reminisce on the pictures and the win of our team that Saturday. Thank you for everything Notre Dame Football. I’ll be back before you know it.