Friday, July 26, 2013

How Members Became Notre Dame Fans, Part 2

It is time for part two to How I Became a Notre Dame Fan.  This is an ongoing series of articles.  I asked the question of the members of our Facebook group.  We have a great group over there and, if you are not a member already, I invite you to come on over and join our great Notre Dame Family.  If you missed the first part of How Members Became Notre Dame Fans, please click the link and you will be taken there.  If you would like to be included in Part 3, just send me a private message on Facebook.

The eleven members who submitted their stories for part 2 are from all over.  There are Canadians, Left Coasters, Midwesterners and Southwesterners.  This further proves that, not only is the University of Notre Dame loved by citizens spread all over the entire Nation, but it is also loved by people throughout the World.  Each person's story of how they became a Notre Dame fan is simultaneously unique and also similar.  The similarity is the power that has attracted them to loving Notre Dame and Notre Dame football (and Notre Dame sports in general, for many).  Other Universities have passionate fans.  That is true. However, I have seen throughout the years that Notre Dame fans are different in their passion.  Is it the religious component?  Is it the rich tradition?  Is it a tradition within our families?  Whatever it is, it is unique and it is real and it is powerful.

Please enjoy the stories of our members.  Each one is valuable to us.  Each one is an individual, yet, also a part of the Notre Dame Family.  Notre Dame grads, students, subway alumni - we all have a love for Notre Dame that binds us together.

The stories:

Lionel Jimenez, Hale Center, TX, originally from Lubbock, TX - Well, I guess you can say that I was born a Notre Dame fan. For as long as can remember holding a football, I also wore a golden helmet. Being born and raised in Texas Tech country, Lubbock Texas, I have always been the odd ball out, but it never stopped me from loving my team. Just to let you know, I have never set foot in Jones AT&T Stadium, and the only time I will is if by chance The Irish were to play there. I have never been able to see my beloved team in person, but thankfully for NBC, and their 50 year contract to show all Fightin' Irish home games, I can still cheer for my team, but believe me that watching a home game in person is number one on my bucket list, and now thanks to the internet I have a pretty nice collection of Notre Dame memorabilia. I even have a Notre Dame tattoo on my neck for the world to see that I love my team. In life and in death, I will be cheering for the Irish.

John Wolf, Centreville, MI, originally from Sturgis, MI - I Remember listening to the 1966 Championship Game on the Radio with my Dad. What a great historic ass whooping is was against USC (51-0). Since that game, I watched (Notre Dame) on TV or listened on the radio to every game. I’ve been a life long fan and we always make it a family event every year to watch every game as a family. I have never been to a game, but would love to make it to South Bend sometime, just for the experience. I’m from Sturgis, MI and now live in Centreville, MI.

Mallorie Brugh, Shakopee, MN - I became an ND fan the fall after I was born. My dad would watch games and yell, "TOUCHDOWN JESUS" when ND scored. Since I was just sleeping away, a little baby in his arms, you can imagine his screaming startled me a bit. I would wake up with my arms flailing all over and scream myself! I think this is why ND is such a special place/tradition for my family and I. The first game I attended was almost 20 years after that. I sat right next to my dad, too big for his arms now, but, when ND came out of that tunnel we both had tears in our eyes. I will never forget that day! Go IRISH!!!

Mark Manis, South Bend, IN - I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. My grandfather was a huge fan. He got me started on Notre Dame football at around 6 or 7 years of age.  I grew up watching every game, eventually, ending up getting a job for all Notre Dame home games. I have not missed a Notre Dame game in 40 years. We are ND.


Stephen Drislane, Kilworth, Cork, Ireland -  I was first introduced by a friend of mine who had seen Rudy and he gave me a DVD of the infamous Bush push game. Coming from Ireland, I had not even heard of Notre Dame football. Anyway, from watching that game, I was heartbroken for the team, this is despite the fact that the game was played months earlier. So, from the start of the next season I would get the games delivered to me on DVD every Thursday and watch them as if they were live. No fear of spoilers over here!! So, then I met a friend of mine who had spent the previous few years, spending 6 months in America and I couldn't believe when he told me he actually lived in South Bend with his new wife. So, having a friend in South Bend was brilliant he invited me over to go see a game. So, in November of 2009 we travelled over to see ND play UConn - bad loss. But, it was a great experience and I got to fulfill a dream I had from the first time I saw Notre Dame Stadium. Sadly, my friend passed away from cancer last year, but, I’ll definitely get back in a few years and, I'm getting married in 2015, so maybe, we can make it part of the honey moon ha, ha! 

Jason Rogers, Norwalk, CA - I grew up in Norwalk,CA, East of Los Angeles. It was
1992 when I became a fan. I was playing outside of my friend’s house when his mom started yelling. So, I ran in the house to see what was going on and she was standing their yelling and cheering at the t.v. And it was because Notre Dame just scored a long td run. I don't remember who they were playing, but seeing her so excited over a football game just stuck in my head and, from that day on, I started watching football and was an Irish fan since! Out of every sport -pros or college, Notre Dame is my favorite team. I get emotional every season, every game and just hearing the fight song gives me goose bumps. I couldn't live without Notre Dame football. Win or lose, I will always root for my boys.

Eddie Ganim, Nitro, WV, originally from South Charleston, WV - This seems like yesterday as I think back when I first became a part of the Notre Dame family. Growing up in a predominately Roman Catholic atmosphere in South Charleston, West Virginia may have played a role (lol), but I will NEVER forget, as long as I live, staying at my Grandmothers house while mom and dad were working and seeing my Uncle's " Time Magazine issue with Terry Hanratty on the cover. I was 6 years old and my dad, who was probably the biggest Notre Dame fan in the universe, talked about the Irish all of the time. I wanted to impress him, so my uncle read to me the story, showed me the photos, and explained to me the unbelievable story of Notre Dame. I went on to converse with my father who was so impressed that he took to an in depth and real meaning behind the lore of Notre Dame football. My relationship with my father is one I will treasure for eternity because he gave me something. Second to love, he gave me the meaning and introduced me to the greatest football tradition ever.

Not a day goes by in which I don't think of either ND or my dad. Nor does there go a day that goes by in which I don't listen to the fight song.  It's my ringtone lol!

When I hear them say "wake up the echoes" I not only think of Rockne, The Gipper, Leahy, Bertelli, Lujack, Hart, Lattner and so many more, but I think of my dad, and I thank him always for introducing me to Notre Dame! Now, I want to go back to the Grotto and light another candle for him!

Go Irish

Ultimatesteelheadsfan Chris Martin, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada - I became a fan when I was 10 years old, as our family roots are Irish on my father’s side. My uncle bought me a Notre Dame Fighting Irish shirt. I was curious as to who they were, but, I was told to cheer for the Irish. I wore that shirt proudly and one day put on an Irish football game and just was in awe at all the people packing the stadium in South Bend. To this day I remain a fan although I no longer have that shirt. I have new ones, a jersey, hats, etc. and always cheer ND and watch the games. I am a huge hockey fan as I have played all my life and have come to realize that ND has a great hockey program as well!! My name is Chris Martin from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and I am ND - HERE COME THE IRISH!!! I get chills to this day when it's kick off time.

Rob Snyder, Fort Wayne, IN, originally from South Bend, IN - I grew up in South Bend Indiana. On a clear day in late fall, winter, or early spring, when trees weren't full of leaves, I could actually see the Golden Dome from my second story bedroom window. I remember watching the Notre Dame Replay on Sunday mornings with Lindsey Nelson, and "Following an exchange of punts, we move to action later in the third quarter … ". There wasn't a lot of interest in Notre Dame in my family back then. My dad dreaded Notre Dame Saturdays because it screwed up the traffic flow in parts of South Bend. None of my 2 brothers and 2 sisters had much interest in Notre Dame. No one in our family tree had ever gone beyond high school. My dad worked in a factory, and my mom stayed home and raised kids. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, this was not uncommon at all. Mom didn't even have a driver's license.

My mom knew I had an interest in Notre Dame. She told me that I could actually go there. There was no way we could afford it, but she said if I worked hard and got good grades, Notre Dame might give scholarships to help pay the way. I was a kid of about 8 years old then, and certainly didn't know any different, so I believed her.

I went to Notre Dame on a few occasions as a child. We saw the Ice Capades at the ACC when I was 8 or 9. In 8th grade I went to a city wide math contest that was held at Notre Dame. I had my first success there as I won first place in individual algebra and our team took third place.

My first Notre Dame game was in November 1975. I had just turned 14. My younger brother rode up to our sandlot football field on his bike and grabbed me to tell me that our neighbor Brownie (Merle Brown) had a ticket to the Notre Dame game that day against Georgia Tech. I left and headed straight home, and went with him to the game. It was a real treat. His lady friend had gotten sick, and so I lucked into the opportunity. Brownie was disabled, had a severely twisted knee and hip, and walked painfully with a twist and a drag of his leg on every step. He had to pivot on his good leg, because the other was virtually useless, so it was a very strange and painful looking way of moving about. I swear to this day though (and maybe this is my selective memory, I could be guilty of that) that when we got to the stadium and parked he had a bit of a spring to his step. Unbeknownst to me, he had packed a cooler and some homemade sandwiches and chips, and I remember being surprised that we just sat there in the parking lot and ate and had a good time before the game. I was in heaven! We talked with all the other people around us, doing the same thing, and I remember thinking that Brownie sure knew a lot of people. It was great. I didn't realize until the drive home when he told me he'd never met any of those people before. That's just what game day and tailgating are like. I thought that was so awesome. And I remember everyone was so kind and seemingly oblivious to Brownie's deformed leg and disability that I was profoundly impressed.

The game itself was great. Just walking in the stadium was awe inspiring. The crowd was so into the game. Notre Dame won that day. There was a lot of chanting and hubbub at the end of the game, and I didn't know at the time what it was all about. It wasn't until later that I found out a little known player got a few plays under his belt at the end of the game. Rudy had made it on to the field.

I did get excellent grades, a very high score on the SAT in my only attempt, and was accepted into the freshman class at Notre Dame in 1980. My mom was right! I (probably not too brightly) applied to only one school. I lived at home and commuted to school because with scholarships, grants, and working part time jobs I was only able to handle tuition, but not room and board too. My family had no money to put towards the education, but contributed mightily with my room and board. I was a rarity, an off campus freshman. Freshman weren't allowed to live off campus as a matter of course, but I was a financial hardship case, so I got the exception. I graduated in 1984 with a BSEE.
I had Dan Devine as the ND Football coach for my freshman year, and then Gerry Faust for the next three. I attended the football games as a student, and have been going ever since. I now have season tickets, and we go to all home games, and usually at least half of the road games as fun filled road trips into enemy territory!

My last Notre Dame game was this past January in South Beach when we played for the National Championship. Notre Dame did not win that day, but we did show that Notre Dame can compete at the highest possible level without lowering their extremely high standards. College Football, and society in general, needs to be reminded of that lesson every once in a while. In my personal experience with Notre Dame football, from the Rudy game to last year's BCS National Championship game, and so many in between, Notre Dame has kept her standards high while so many others around her have wavered.

To me, Notre Dame is about dreams, and potential, and the people of Notre Dame doing everything they can to help others reach that potential. The standards are high, and won't be lowered. But then the achievements are high too, and the satisfaction and successes are worth it. Even in times of trouble, Notre Dame continually does the right thing. High standards are hard to live up to. We all make mistakes. Notre Dame holds its family members accountable, but tempers that with forgiveness, chances to redeem, and paths to recovery. Notre Dame isn't just a school, a bunch of buildings, or even just about football. Notre Dame is about the people and the Notre Dame family.

My first tailgating experience showed me acceptance and the bonding of people coming together for a common goal, in this case to see Notre Dame succeed on the football field. My time there as a student taught me that standards would be high, but that you can stretch beyond what you think you are capable of, and achieve more than you dreamed. My time as an alumni and football fan has taught me that Notre Dame is family, and the common Notre Dame thread gives you instant acceptance and camaraderie all across the nation.

To sum it all up, Lou Holtz probably says it best. To be a Notre Dame fan is something special. If you go on campus, you can instantly see it and feel it, and you just plain get it. If you feel it, no explanation is necessary, if you don't no explanation is satisfactory.

And there is no place better to be on a fall Saturday afternoon than in Notre Dame Stadium watching the Irish.

Paul Krutzmann, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada -  I'm from Victoria BC, Canada. So, growing up in Canada you're just supposed to be a hockey nut. But, in our household it was always football. I become a fan for a few reasons. One, we are Catholic Irish, so ND is pretty much a given. And, two, my older brother went to a Catholic high school in Vancouver that's sports team’s name was, the Fighting Irish. Well, since most younger siblings always do what their older brother does, I became a fan of the 'other' Fighting Irish team as well. I'm 38 years old and have pretty (much) not missed a game for over 25 years. In fact, I went and finally saw my Irish play at ND Stadium last year against the Cardinal for the first time ever. I even rushed the field after that amazing overtime game. (I) Left the field through the tunnel. What a rush!!!!

I live/love Notre Dame football.

Go Irish!!!!

Art Sedlar, Tulsa, OK, originally from Dowagiac, MI - I grew up 30 miles from ND. My whole family are ND fans and hate (the) U OF M - even though I was raised in Michigan

1 comment:

Rick Mayrose said...

Rick Mayrose I became an ND fan in 65 when my oldest brother David started classes at ND. I never cared about ND until I went there for his wedding and visited the campus and that is when the chills and magic stared flowing through my veins. From that point on, I eat, drink and crave ND athletics...Go Irish forever.