through the eyes of a child

We went to the Notre Dame vs Air Force football game this weekend. It’s always fun to go to a Notre Dame football game – the game day atmosphere is exciting and this weekend the weather was literally picture perfect. If it had just been me & my husband there would be no story to tell. My recap would simply say that ND blew out the other team; the sun was blazing and in our faces the entire game; and thankfully we had no drunk or obnoxious people sitting near us.

But it wasn’t just the two of us, this time we brought along J for his very first college football game. He’s been to Notre Dame plenty of times. He’s been to Notre Dame sporting events too but never for football and for a boy who’s watched Rudy many, many times this was a very exciting day.

We walked onto campus and his eyes were wide trying to take it all in – the tailgating, the kids playing catch with footballs, the flags waving and music blaring. When we got close to the stadium he suddenly shouted “Hey! I know where we are!” It wasn’t until we turned the corner and could see other campus buildings that he recognized his surroundings – he knew we were at ND of course but none of it looked familiar to him until that point. He pointed out the bright, shining golden dome and picked up his step a bit.

When we entered the stadium we noticed a small group of people standing near a door. That door also had an usher in front of it holding up a rope to make a clear passage. My brother (who was also with us) asked if the players came out that door – the answer was yes. We decided this would be fun for J to see so we waited. Some people in the front saw J and made room for him to stand right on the rope. When the first group – maybe six players – came out J just looked up in awe. When the next, much larger group came out he had his hand extended over the rope to give the players five – and many of them smacked his hand as they filed out to the field. Some of them hard enough that J’s little body was rocking back & forth. The glow in his eyes and the huge smile on his face showed how excited he was. Then the third group came out and while these young men already seemed larger than life (literally, these are very big boys) a Senior Defensive End named Kapron Lewis-Moore (aka #89 my son’s new favorite player) handed J one of his wristbands.

J’s mouth literally dropped open in astonishment and he slowly turned and held it out to show me. He has only removed it once ever since – when he took a shower. That 22 year old young man made the biggest impression on my son. J was on cloud nine the rest of the day.

He watched plays – paying particular attention to the blocking ability of #89. He gave high fives to the people all around us when big plays were made. He even got to be the “push-up boy” for a group of young guys near us. (A Notre Dame tradition – the leprechaun does push-ups for every Fighting Irish point scored. Students tend to pick up the lightest person near them and hoist them up for push-ups in the air to celebrate. My son was hoisted up many times Saturday and had a goofy, toothless grin on his face every time – smacking high fives and giving fist bumps as if he were one of the gang.)

Yes, the sun was blazing. Yes, my son eventually was worn out enough from squinting that we left late in the 3rd quarter (and the game was a blow-out). But that day was more enjoyable for all of us because we saw it through the eyes of a seven year old boy.

And yes, he now wants to grow up and play football at Notre Dame.

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