Monday, November 19, 2012

Feelin’ Irish

Irish #1You all probably know by now that I’m a Notre Dame fan. I didn’t go there, but I grew up watching ND football and basketball games with my Dad. It’s a pretty big deal in our little city, because it’s the largest employer in the area and brings in millions to the local economy.

We’ve been fortunate the past couple of years to get tickets to all the football home games (thanks to Andy!), and this season has been almost unbelievable. We have somehow managed to go undefeated so far, and after Kansas State and Oregon were upset this past Saturday, we moved up to #1. Like, in the country. WOW! The football program has had a lot of ups and downs over the past couple of decades, but suddenly everything started clicking. The wins haven’t all been pretty, but we somehow managed to find a way to get it done.

Now we’re facing the very real possibility that we might have an undefeated season and play for the national championship. I don’t want to get ahead of things, because we still have to face USC in Pasadena this Saturday, and I know they’ll be out to play the spoiler. If the status quo prevails, we will probably play Alabama for the championship in Miami.

We talked about it, and decided that if we can get tickets (Ken’s new workplace has season tickets, so they might have a good shot at getting them), we will go. We want to go to whatever bowl game they end up at, and we’re hoping it will be the championship! Tickets won’t be cheap, and I was kind of balking at that, but Ken said, “We might never get a chance to see this again.” Considering that it’s been almost a quarter of a century since they last won a national championship, it’s hard to argue that point. So we’ll see what happens, but fingers are crossed here at Nutwood!

I’ve been a little emotional about all of this. Some people say, “It’s just a game.” I understand that, and I realize that in the large scheme of things, Notre Dame playing for and possibly winning the national championship is low priority. However, I’ve been a fan for forty years. Some of my happiest memories with my Dad were of us watching games on TV together as he explained the game, penalties, and strategies. We were even able to attend a couple of games together in the past few years. During the season, we’d talk at length about the players, the coaches, and games past, present, and future. If Ken and I were watching a game at home, I’d call Dad up after a particularly great ND play, and he’d say, “I just told your Mom that that’ll be Beth Anne!” We’d go a little crazy about the great play and then go back to watching the game.

I remember Dad saying that he hoped Notre Dame would win one more national championship before he died. That wasn’t to be, but I know how pleased he’d be at the season they have had this year, and how excited we’d both be to talk about the possibilities of a championship. As happy as I am about this season, there is a bittersweet aspect to it. I miss being able to talk to Dad about it all.

If we really do get to go to the bowl game, I’ll be cheering for two.