Tonight I remembered how special the University of Note Dame's football games were. This tiny town was host of some of the most memorable games in college football. Of course I usually went to the blow out games but it was still so beautiful.
We'd start by parking in Red West while we ambled around usually meeting several other families for a tail gate. The aroma of roasting meat was enchanting. The small city just came alive when they were in town.
I never remember feeling like I was physically threatened. I never felt like I was not a true Domer despite not going there. They were our team.
We'd descend upon the stadium and you could hear the bands inside while hoards of people lined up to get in. What I remember most about going to the game was the moment you went from being line in the tunnel to taking your first step into Notre Dame stadium. It felt like my soul would leap to freedom as I stepped out into the stadium. I didn't care who they were playing I just knew I was there.
Ironically I don't really remember many specific plays (outside of the oddity for example when Reggie Ho became a temporary celebrity) but I remember the names Pinkett, Browner, Beurlein, Ferguson, Brown, Ismail and too many more to name.
I also remember the experience. Wondering when they would come out in the green jerseys. Checking out the blimp (a REAL LIVE blimp) in our stadium. Sometimes it was freezing and we were like a giant family huddling together. Sometimes it was hot and it was hard at times not to stick to the guy next to you.
There is something unspeakably magnificent about watching the game under Touchdown Jesus. It was awesome to see the bands come onto the field (not like Cal's of course) and to see the student section alive and supporting their Irish so loyally.
Then after the game there was of course the meeting at the car. In South Bend, it was totally fine to let me and my little brother walk to the car and meet my parents, there just wasn't the risk there is now. Hopefully we walked out with a pom pom or something. Or even more exciting we slipped onto the field right after the game!
Then it was crash city in the car or vibrant discussion about minute details of the game (particularly when they lost).
South Bend had very little to offer me. But the Notre Dame games were unlike any other stadium I've ever visited and that was cool by me.