Disclaimer: I got chills up my spine as I wrote the title of this post.
To set the record straight, I am not your typical Notre Dame fan. My heritage did not raise me blue and gold through and through from birth like so many of my Domer friends.
Much the contrary, it was not until my sophomore year of high school that I became enamored with Our Lady's University. One of my sisters matriculated at Saint Mary's College (which is directly across the street from ND in case you are not familiar with the school) that year and I made a trip out with my parents to see her for the October 6, 2001 game featuring the Fighting Irish vs the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Long story short, I fell in love with campus before I even stepped foot on it. As we drove in from the Indiana Toll Road I could see the Golden Dome glistening in the sun and it was truly the most beautiful sight I had ever seen up until that point.
I won't bore you with the rest of the details but Notre Dame won both the game (24-7) and my heart. From that day forth I was determined to go to college at the University of Notre Dame. Lo and behold, I was rewarded with my efforts during spring of my senior year of high school and was granted admission.
Over the past four years my love for the University grew deeper and deeper, and if it hadn't already done so beforehand, secured a permanent spot in my heart.
So as I sat down at my computer to write this article I literally felt chills crawling up my spine. If you aren't a fan of the University you are probably thinking to yourself that I am a little weird (although you might be thinking that regardless of the circumstances). True.
Notre Dame is one of those places that you either love or hate. There is no middle ground, and I am perfectly okay with that thought. I enjoy hearing from random strangers that I "suck" or "Notre Dame is terrible."
Why, you ask? Simple: They wouldn't say those things if they understood what the University is truly about, and I don't sink to their level. People often times "hate" what they don't understand, and this case is certainly no different.
This weekend the Irish kickoff against their 2008 campaign this Saturday, September 6 against San Diego State Aztecs, a product of the Kevin White scheduling philosophy. If you don't remember, Notre Dame's former Athletic Director Dr. Kevin White rescheduled ND's game vs BYU in 2004 so that it would be the opener, allowing the Irish to "warm-up" before taking on Michigan.
As fate would have it, the Irish lost the supposed tune-up game and beat Michigan. For making the switch, White agreed to have the Irish play two future games against other Mountain West opponents. Welcome San Diego State this year and Nevada next year!
In all honesty, as long as the Irish remain one of the five schools never to have played a 1-AA opponent (Michigan State, Southern Cal, UCLA, and Washington are the others) I could care less who they are playing this weekend.
I cannot wait to hear the band play the greatest of all University fight songs, The Notre Dame Victory March! I cannot wait to hear the drumline and see my friends still on the line. I cannot wait to see the Golden Dome, and Touchdown Jesus, and the Grotto. I cannot wait to see more than 100,000 people on campus for a game where the stadium holds only 80,795. I cannot wait to be a part of the 400th game ever played at Notre Dame Stadium and the 200th consecutive sellout. I cannot wait to cheer along to Talking Hands, Rock, Five or Metallica. I cannot wait to see the team run out of the tunnel.
Most importantly, I cannot wait to be back at my favorite place in the world: Notre Dame.