Luck O' The Rican?

[caption id="attachment_6679" align="alignright" width="276"]notredame_football_fightingirish_southbend Source: iSports Web[/caption] Just WTF does that mean you are saying before you delve into this post......aren't you?  It means that I had the absolute best weekend a person closer to 40 than to 30 can have and have lived a childhood dream. Still haven't the foggiest clue as to what I'm talking about?  Let me fill you in on a weekend that I will never forget and here is my recap of it all. Friday morning I got up early and went to the gym to do some strength and core work before heading to the lake for my usual Friday morning open water swim.  All the while in the gym I am calculating travel time to lake, swim time, travel time to breakfast and then the most important part of it all.....travel time to airport.  I was heading to Grand Rapids to hang out with Kevin and Jennie and travel to South Bend, Indiana to watch Notre Dame play Pitt.  This was a boyhood dream come true. Let me take you back to when I was a kid living in New York.  Back then, and even today, the Northeast didn't have a big time college football program to follow.  It was desolate and probably how I became a Clemson football fan, but the TV coverage then for me was Big Ten.  Every Saturday on ABC there was the Big Ten playing football with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and eventually Penn State.  Watching Michigan play Ohio State at the end of the season was always must see TV for me.  Along with those teams I always saw Notre Dame playing because they always had games scheduled against Big Ten opponents.  Watching the sunset over the stadium and having their gold helmets illuminated by the lights left a profound impression on me. When you couple that fact with movies like Rudy and the mystique that was/is Notre Dame then you can understand how going to a game became a lifelong dream of mine.  Attending a game in South Bend is on a list with seeing games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke University Basketball), Wrigley Field (Cubs Baseball), Mile High Stadium on a Monday night (Denver Broncos Football), Arrowhead Stadium with a late afternoon start (Kansas City Chiefs Football), and Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox baseball) and old Yankee Stadium (New York Yankee baseball.)  I have been to Fenway and old Yankee Stadium so those can be crossed off the list and now was my chance to see Notre Dame football in South Bend with a late afternoon start. I honestly don't recall how Kevin and I began talking about this but once we did and the ball was set in motion there was no stopping it.  I quickly purchased a single seat ticket along with booking a flight.  At that point Notre Dame was only 3-0 and we had no clue that they would end up beating the like of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma and be ranked in the Top 5 nationally along with being in contention for the National Championship.  Once game day drew closer and I knew I was not only going to see a game but see a Top 5 team my excitement was through the roof.  I was fired up and couldn't wait to board that plane. The flight(s) out to Grand Rapids were uneventful and I landed at 5pm.  Kevin, Jennie and I went for pizza that night and headed to bed at a somewhat decent hour as we were going to get up early for the nearly 2 hour drive and pre-game tailgating.  When the alarm went off the next morning I was ready to roll.  A quick shower some breakfast on the road we were.  For those of you that live in the North it was a relatively mild day for you but for me I was freezing.  I had put on compression pants and socks.  A fleece lined running shirt, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket to go to the game.  Not to mention my gloves and wool hat. [caption id="attachment_6681" align="alignright" width="300"]notredame_football_fightingirish_southbend Source: Waterford Estate Lodge[/caption] When we got to the tailgate we parked and met Kevin's friends and hung out for a bit.  We decided to go to campus and walk around so that I can get some gifts for Karen and Chico and myself.  The campus was gorgeous and you could feel the buzz in the air that only game day brings.  The students were milling around, getting their tailgating setup and the parents were walking around with their kids and everybody had a smile on their face.  After sometime in the bookstore and getting away with spending barely $100 we headed back to the tailgate.  When game time neared we walked back to campus and that is when it all started. We were walking by right when the marching band was heading into the stadium and the crowd was cheering for them and going nuts.  I was getting swept up in it all but my hands were frozen and I couldn't clap much.  Once inside the stadium we decided that I would try to sit with Kevin and Jennie even though my ticket was in another section (yes, I was one of those.)  With about 5 minutes to go until kick-off everything was great.  Then the owners of the seats showed up and after a little bit of maneuvering we were settled in. Kick-off happened and the first 3 quarters of the game were a disappointment as I could feel Notre Dame losing this game and their opportunity for a National Championship.  That is when it all turned around.  Notre Dame's defense got stingy while their offense decided to start playing.  Pitt's coach/players were not up to the task of beating a top ranked opponent and it all fell apart for them.  So much so that Notre Dame tied the game at 20 and sent it to overtime and this is where the magic happened. Neither team scored on their first possession of OT.  On the second possession, Notre Dame fumbled and Pitt had the chance to win the game.  The Luck O' The Irish stepped in and the Pitt kicker missed and easy field goal attempt that would have won the game.  Onto the third OT the game went.  Pitt got the ball first and did not score. The Irish took over and plodded their way down to the goal line when they finally punched it in and won the game 26-20 in front of 80,000+ fans going berserk.  The stadium was rocking.  The fans were high-fiving and jumping up and down.  It was a miracle win for a storied franchise, but it was more than that. It was an adult living out a childhood dream.  The sunset over the stadium just like I had seen so many times as a kid.  The helmets sparkled in the light of the sun and the bright lights of the evening.  The Notre Dame fight song played all night and in the end the Irish won a game they should have lost.  The fulfillment of a lifetime dream was done and the Irish stood strong at the end. I can't thank Kevin and Jennie enough for letting me crash at their place this weekend and allowing me to go back to my childhood for one afternoon/evening.  It is truly something I will never forget.  Now onto finding when the Broncos play on a Monday night.

What Are Some Of Your Childhood Dreams?

Have You Lived Out A Childhood Dream And Was It Everything You Thought It Would Be?

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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