One of my Dad’s favorite Notre Dame games/moments is the Notre Dame 31-30 win over the University of Miami during the 1988 Championship season. He has a poster hanging in his office from that game which is entitled “One Shining Moment.”
I didn’t think that I could actually ever top MY best Notre Dame moment (which was the Notre Dame win over Penn State in 1992 entitled the “Snow Bowl”), but during my Volvo/Big East trip back to Notre Dame, I think I did!
It started out as one of those trips where I didn’t actually think I was going to MAKE it TO Notre Dame. The night before we left, they cancelled our second flight from Chicago to South Bend due to the storm that was predicted to hit the Great Lakes area on Friday. Our first flight was landing in Chicago at 9:00 am and they cancelled our 11:30am flight to South Bend … rebooking us on a 5:00pm flight … which made absolutely NO sense to me if the storm was going to start at 11:00am and snow straight through until MIDNIGHT!
So to avoid being stuck in Chicago, we hedged our bets and rented a car from Chicago to South Bend, figuring that if we left Chicago by car at 9:00am, we would get to South Bend BEFORE the storm even started in Chicago … and we were right. In hindsight, I am SO glad we opted for driving to South Bend, because they ended up closing the airport in South Bend, and we would never have made it!
Our weekend started out on Friday by swinging over to Mishawaka, Indiana and picking up the awesome RED Volvo S60, which, by-the-way is absolutely stunning. And I cannot even begin to tell you how great the heated seats were, with it being in the teens temperature wise all weekend in South Bend! Yep, welcome to winter in South Bend!
After we took possession of the sassy Red Volvo S60, our next stop was over to the Purcell Pavilion where I had the honor of being interviewed by the video crew of UND.com. Jack Nolan, from the UND.com show Irish Connection, invited me to come down to the Purcell Pavilion and be interviewed by him & the UND.com video crew … giving me a chance to explain what I was doing at Notre Dame and to give some details about myself and Volvo’s “Biggest Fan of the Big East” contest. As a huge fan of the Irish Connection show, it was an honor just to MEET Jack and the UND.com video crew, let alone to be interviewed by them! Not only did they interview me, they let me borrow one of their flip cams so that I could document my weekend at Notre Dame, and so at the end of this post you’ll be able to WATCH and SEE all of the places that I am writing about!
Following my interview, I took some time to tour my husband around the Purcell Pavilion. I showed him all of the basketball trophies, including the Women's Basketball 2001 National Championship Trophy, and the hardwood floor from the Final Four in St. Louis that is now the floor IN the Women's Basketball office! Then we went over and toured the old hockey arena, and hopped on over to the “Goog” Athletic Complex to see & touch (did I mention TOUCH?!) firsthand the Irish HEISMAN TROPHIES! (Wow.)
Notre Dame Women's Basketball 2001 National Championship Trophy
Then, it was time for our next stop, my first visit to the brand new Compton Family Ice Arena. The old hockey arena (when I was at Notre Dame) was basically just an ice rink with bleachers … not really what you would expect from a school like Notre Dame. But at a school where Football & Basketball basically rule the roost, it took some time and convincing of the people who control the purse strings that Notre Dame Hockey really is a force to reckon with. Now that Notre Dame Hockey really IS on the map, they have the ice facility to back it up! This place was absolutely phenomenal. The Compton Family Ice Arena is a facility that is as good as, if not BETTER than, most NHL facilities. It is simply outstanding. So we managed to get in to see Notre Dame face the University of Michigan in the “White Out” game, where they gave all of the Notre Dame fans white shirts so that the arena was a “White Out” … which was quite amusing seeing as it was a “White Out” outside as well with the blizzard going on! It was an awesome game, and the Irish ended up defeating Michigan 3-1.
Compton Family Ice Arena
Our next stop was to Brother’s Pub, to do some mingling and celebrating with the students & fans, and to spread the word about the “swag” that we were going to give away after the big win over Syracuse on Saturday. (Little did we know how EPIC the win would actually be!)
After a restful night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast Saturday morning, we headed out into the frozen tundra of South Bend to visit some of my favorite sites on campus and get hyped up for the big game Saturday night.
(Look at all of the snow we woke up to!)
We hit my top campus spots … the bookstore, the Dome, the Grotto, the Basilica … we even got an up close and personal encounter with one of the crazy Notre Dame squirrels! It was the funniest thing. As I was explaining on camera how the squirrels on campus have absolutely NO fear, and used to walk over our feet as we sat on benches on the “God Quad” … this squirrel literally comes right up to me and puts his front paws ON MY LEG. I swear, we could not have planned that any better if we had tried!! Insane! (Hey, you can follow him on Twitter, too! Apparently he stole a student’s iPhone! @NDSquirrel)
Once we were completely frozen from walking around campus, we grabbed a bite to eat in the LaFortune Student Center, warmed up with some caramel cider, and then headed on to the few remaining places on my favorite spots on campus tour: St. Mary's Lake, Stonehenge: the war memorial, my old dorm Siegfried Hall, the Hesburgh Library and Touchdown Jesus mosaic, the football stadium and back to the basketball arena.
St. Mary's Lake
Now it was time to head into the Purcell Pavilion for the battle of Notre Dame vs. number 1 Syracuse. Once again we reminded the fans that there would be swag to be given away after the crushing of Syracuse, and headed on in to find our seats. After we found our (awesome) seats, I once again visited with the UND.com video crew to give my final pre-game predictions (Notre Dame to trounce Syracuse of course), and then hunkered in for what would turn out to be my new MOST FAVORITE, Notre Dame, “One Shining Moment.”
Check it out ... I'm on the big screen!
Notre Dame came out of the box, and truly never looked back. Starting the game with an 8-2 lead, the Irish set their tempo, and never let Syracuse get the lead, or any sort of rhythm for that matter. Even with our team captain Atkins having some foul issues and having to sit out a good portion of the first half, the rest of the team took control and never let Syracuse run the high powered scoring game that they are used to running. Of course it also helped that Syracuse’s starting Center Melo had to sit out due to academic issues, but that was neither here nor there. This was Notre Dame’s game, and there was no looking back.
It made me laugh, listening to the two Syracuse fans sitting in front of us. They kept shaking their heads and saying … "What is going on?? Notre Dame ISN’T EVEN THAT GOOD!"
There was no lack of spirited fans at the game either. I snapped a few shots, but there were plenty more where these came from!
More Body Paint!
The Distraction Wheel (that was behind the basket where Syracuse was shooting)
During the half time break, they put me up on the jumbo tron, announcing that I was in attendance at the game and encouraging people once again to vote for me as the Notre Dame representative of the “Biggest Fan of the Big East” contest. As the second half started, I couldn’t help think that I was witnessing history in the making! As the story continued to unravel, I could not help think about the six other number one teams who had also entered South Bend undefeated, and left with a loss to the Irish. Was this actually happening again? Simply unbelievable!
As the seconds ticked off the clock and we prepared to storm the court, I seriously needed someone to pinch me! I could not even wrap my head around what we had just seen!! Wow.
Storming the Court!
(Photo courtesy of Matt Cashore)
Me and Grant!
As the clock hit zero we rushed the court and celebrated with the team, students, and fellow Notre Dame fans … each and every one of us trying to understand what we really had just witnessed. After Syracuse’s Head Coach, and Notre Dame’s Coach Brey addressed the media, the UND.com video crew interviewed me once more to get my post-game thoughts … and then we headed out to celebrate the big win!
Post Game Interview
Following our post game meal, we headed out to my favorite South Bend establishment, The Linebacker Lounge, to celebrate the win with friends, students, and Notre Dame fans, and gave out some Volvo/Big East swag to an elated Irish crowd!
Me & My Ladies at the Backer!
As we headed back to our hotel for the night, I really didn’t think that I’d ever fall asleep. What an amazing weekend. I saw two Irish wins: basketball and hockey … Got to see all of my favorite campus spots ... Got to enjoy time with some old friends. Really, what more could a fanatical Irish girl want out of a weekend at Notre Dame? Absolutely nothing!
And now it’s time to return the Volvo, and head back home, and all I can think of is just when I think I’ve seen it all … life goes ahead and surprises me!
Once again, a BIG THANK YOU to Volvo and the Big East Conference for the best weekend a fan could EVER wish for, and thank you for giving me the chance to share my experiences with Notre Dame and Big East Fans all over the world!
I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have … and stayed tune for Challenge Post #6 which I am also working on at this very moment!
Want to see more? Check out the video I made documenting my alma mater weekend at Notre Dame!
And, as always, if you have not had a chance yet, please swing by my “Biggest Fan of the Big East” profile and cast a vote in my direction!
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