Five Foot Nothing: Returning

Credit: Matt Cashore

Credit: Matt Cashore

Although I spent my senior season blogging to you from the Notre Dame Stadium student section, I watched many of my games as a student from the third floor of the press box. I was a student worker in an ugly polo and even uglier khakis, but I loved the perfect view, the stats being called around me, the ability to watch a replay, and, of course, the free food.

Watching a game from the press box is almost as homey and familiar to me as watching it from the student section—almost.

The Temple game was a jarring experience for me, sitting there just behind the marching band with all the other alumni. But for Michigan State, I got to return home—even if I wasn’t back in the student section. I was up in the press box again.

What was I doing back there, you ask? Well, today I get to announce that I’m returning to Notre Dame once more, and not just for a home game. I’ll be spending this school year as a Media Relations Assistant in the Athletic Department.

I wasn’t expecting to return. When I graduated in May (and all summer), I tried to make my peace with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be at Notre Dame anymore. When Media Relations offered me the job three weeks ago—the weekend of the season opener—I thought, “Don’t do it. You’re going to expect to feel like a student and you won’t. It won’t be the same, and nothing—not even taking a job at Notre Dame—can change that.”

I won’t deny that it’s different. Just last night I was walking around campus, and I could feel students glancing at me like they knew I didn’t belong. At first I thought I must just be imagining it, but then I realized I was carrying a purse. Students don’t carry purses on Sunday nights! They have backpacks. They study. I had accidentally given myself away.

Coming back to Notre Dame isn’t about reliving my time as a student. Being up in that press box on Saturday and watching our defense hold their own like I know they can reminded me that Notre Dame is home for reasons beyond the student section and the dorms and the dining hall.

Notre Dame football has been a part of me since I was a kid, going to my first game at Notre Dame Stadium at age seven, sitting with my mother and five-year-old brother. And now I’m choosing to be a part of it as an adult. It isn’t refusing to grow up, it’s just continuing to be who I’ve always been.

Last year, the Oklahoma game was a turning point for the 2012 team—it was a statement, a demonstration of proof. I was more nervous and excited for it than I had ever been for a football game up until that point in my life. Coming off this win against Michigan State, I’m eager to see this team continue to prove itself. And I’m eager to spend the week soaking in the atmosphere, no longer a student, but still a Notre Dame fan at home.

This content can also be found on Notre Dame’s official football blog, Strong and True. Click here to read more.

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3 thoughts on “Five Foot Nothing: Returning

  1. I haven’t had a chance to return to ND as an employee, but on numerous trips back to campus, the feeling that led you to question taking the job ALWAYS assets itself–and it’s always a little sad. From the moment I left campus after graduation, it no longer belonged to me. It would be an interesting existence working for the university, I’m sure (especially so for someone like me who has been gone for so long). But the years you attend as a student are discrete. The people you attend with have so much more to do with the character of the place and the experience than the place itself. Man, I’d like to try it, though.

    Good luck to you.
    DJ – ND ’90

    • It is a sad thing as an alumni realizing that something you loved so much can never be yours again, no matter how closely you position yourself.

      I’ve been here all week, and of course it doesn’t feel half as much like home as it did last weekend when six of my friends were hanging out off campus. Funny how that works.

      Thanks for reading and the beautiful comment.

      • I hope you’ll find that the initial feeling of being outside goes away; it did for me, once I realized that I was a student for 4 years but would be an alum (hopefully) for decades…36 years and counting. Think of it this way: the place doesn’t belong solely to the students, but to everyone who participates in its life. When I was a kid at home, I was around my parents and sibs all the time. When I left home, that was no less my place, my family; just in a different way. The circle of ND friends keeps growing, and despite the inevitable feeling of loss around the end of senior year, the secret is revealed over time: what you love about ND will always be yours, and will even grow, if you follow the various paths that open up. (It’s kind of like getting older in general!)

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