Everyone knows that I love football. Especially Notre Dame football. But what you may not know is that I love hockey as well. As the first round of the NHL playoffs are in full swing I have been reflecting on how my love of hockey began.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I was not a huge hockey fan. Dodger baseball, yes. Hockey, not so much. I became exposed to hockey through my friend Leslie, as her parents had season tickets to the L.A. Kings, and I learned a lot from her. Including, but not limited to: DO NOT turn around and talk to Gretzky’s wife DURING the game … as when she was doing that she got hit in the back of the head with a puck and had to be rushed to the ER for stitches!
So when I got to Notre Dame for my freshman year, I already had some knowledge of hockey, and then I met Mike Russo. He was one of the goalies for the ND Hockey team, and had played hockey in high school in St. Louis at Christian Brothers College high school. He always wore his high school letterman jacket around campus, and maybe that’s what caught my eye, that purple jacket, but I soon rearranged my walking paths so that I would run into him on my way to and from class. We chatted a lot, running into each other like that, freshman year, but I never did get up the nerve to ask him out. During my freshman year my friends and I really didn’t go to many hockey games. It was enough of a challenge just getting used to being so far away from home, and trying to master classes, not a whole lot of extracurricular activities happened freshman year!
At the end of the summer after freshman year in college, my parents told me that we were moving to St. Louis. St. Louis?? What?? I was crushed. I had four days to say goodbye to my friends before I headed back to college and I could not believe that my parents were doing this to me!! (Typical 18 year old reaction, right?)
And then everything gets put into perspective.
When I got back to campus that first day of sophomore year, I picked up a copy of the first “Observer” of the school year … the student paper. And there it was on the front page. Freshman, Mike Russo dies.
I think all of the blood rushed out of my face. My friends had tried to get to me before I got a paper, but they didn’t make it. Boy, didn’t I feel stupid that I never asked him out … that I was too shy to take the first step. Talk about missed opportunities. I was so upset, I could not even go to the memorial that the school had for him. I was absolutely crushed. I really had no intention of EVER going to a hockey game ever again. All it did was remind me of him.
But then, life has a way of taking care of things. Flash forward to Junior year. My roommate got engaged in November and decided to move off campus with her fiance, and left me needing a roommate. The rector of our dorm gave me a list of all of the girls from our dorm who were in London for the fall semester and asked me if I knew any of them. I did recognize this one girl (Cara), and I knew we had a friend in common … Carl, who was (you guessed it) a hockey player … so I figured she would be okay. And so I picked Cara!
I ran into Carl at the dining hall and told him that Cara and I were going to be roommates the next semester, and his reaction was less than positive. He said … “Uh, Cara? Really? Oh my.” And I said … “What do you mean??” He replied … “Well, you are the eternally HAPPY person, and she is the eternally CRABBY person!”
And thus started a wonderful friendship between Cara and I! For the record, she and I were perfect roommates. We were the perfect mix of happy and crabby, and we had a wonderful time that semester! In fact, to this day, we are still the best of friends, she was in my wedding, she is Offspring #2′s God Mother and we are running a 10K next month! Okay … back to the story!
Living with Cara that semester … she and Carl got me back into going to hockey games again. And then, during my senior year, my Dad let me bring his VERY nice camera, with a telephoto lens, to school with me and I started taking pictures at sporting events. First at football games … and then at hockey games. I started making copies and enlarging some of good pictures to give to the players, and word got back to the hockey coach of how good my photos were, and I got invited to ride on the team bus with the team and be the team photographer!!
Well, shy me passed on that offer … but I did road trip to as many games as I could and took TONS of pictures.
Watching the game through my camera further developed my love for the game, and I have loved it ever since. That, and getting to know quite a few of the guys through my pictures, and getting to know the “characters” that hockey players are … it was a good thing!
After I graduated from Notre Dame, I got a job doing sales for a local professional soccer team in St. Louis. The best part of that job was two-fold. First … the soccer team played in The Arena, where the St. Louis Blues played, and our offices opened out onto the top row of the arena … so I cannot tell you how many hockey games we got to watch from up there!! (shhhh!) And secondly, from hanging out with the soccer players at the drinking establishments near The Arena, we got to meet and get to know a ton of the Blues players … Hull, Shanahan, CuJo, Jeff Brown … the list goes on. It was truly a great opportunity (the job that is) and a very fun time in my life!
I’ve been blogging since 2009 and for a very long time I thought no one was reading my writing. The following moment changed my mind. I received a comment on a story that I wrote about Mike Russo, and the comment was from the husband of Mike’s sister. He thanked me for the beautiful story about Mike, and for still holding his memory so dear. I was blown away. Every day, the world seems to become smaller and smaller.
And then two weeks ago, it got smaller again. One of Mike’s teammates, and a classmate of mine, reconnected with me on twitter. We started reminiscing about Mike and he connected me with one of Mike’s best friends from Notre Dame. Again, they were both blown away by my story about Mike and once again I am humbled at the reach my words have had on others.
I still think of Mike every time I go to a hockey game. I probably always will. And though I don’t have as much time as I used to, to attend or even watch hockey games … I still thoroughly enjoy it every chance I get.
Last night, I took a break from editing my upcoming book (Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became) and watched the Blues and King play, and am reminded how much the game of hockey is embedded in my life.
Notre Dame Our Mother … tender, strong and true.
It just so happened that Notre Dame’s spring football game took place the same weekend that I needed to make a trip up to campus to do some final work on my upcoming book on Notre Dame football (Echoes After the Whistle: The Men We Became). Funny how that worked out, now isn’t it? Here is my photo journal of my weekend back on campus!
My weekend started out on Thursday with a day of research in Notre Dame Archives sifting through decades of Notre Dame football photographs. It was a lovely walk down memory lane for me, along with some bitter sweet memories of those who are no longer with us, but I was able to get my work done with time to spare!
Then I made a side trip to the second floor of the library for a little editing work on the manuscript. Oh the hours that I’ve spent in this building! Look familiar Miss Quinn?
Thursday night I caught up with friends, regrouped, and got ready for another hectic day. Friday got off to a busy start with a photo shoot on campus for the upcoming book.
Then I got the chance to meet USA Network’s “The Moment” star Vince Moiso and his lovely family.
And producer Charlie Ebersol …
Followed by a delightful 45 minute conversation with Notre Dame head photographer, Matt Cashore.
Quick outfit change and off to the Alumni Football Dinner we go!
At my table I got to sit with current football players Austin Collinsworth and Ben Councell. A pair of delightful young men that I am proud to call Notre Dame men.
At the table next to me was my best pal and classmate, Irv Smith, sitting with Big Lou, Louis Nix III.
Dinner was awesome. The keynote speakers included TJ Jones, Bennett Jackson, Kyle Rudolph and head coach Brian Kelly. I am so very proud of these young men, especially TJ Jones. He has really stepped up, not only as a true Notre Dame man, but as the man of his house since the passing of his father, Andre. God bless you TJ!
I had the chance to catch up with one of my Dad’s classmates, Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte. What a truly wonderful man.
And I also had the chance to catch up with my classmate, Irv Smith. It seems like not a day has passed since we were in school!
Following dinner I had the opportunity to go to a reception in the stadium which included a tour of the locker room and a chance to touch the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign. Yep, I could die right now a very happy girl!
Cindy and I in the locker room!
All this and I’m not even to the game yet! Saturday was another bright and early day! First stop, the TNNDN tailgate and some time with classmate Oscar McBride.
Then a quick stop to the monogram lunch to catch up with a few more friends …
Game time and I had the honor of being down on the field with some of my pals. You could not have asked for better football weather … sunny, crisp air, blue sky … perfect.
On the sideline with the boys …
Tight End U …
THE moment of the game? Manti Te’o coming over to hug my friend Lynne … Amazing. The Notre Dame family is truly just that … family.
It was a truly amazing weekend. I love my Notre Dame family more than words can express, and I have absolutely no complaints when football is part of my weekend schedule. Now I am just more in need for football season to get here.
How many days until Temple?
Has it been a while since you’ve been back to campus? Or have you never been to Notre Dame? Here’s a guide of things to do while you are at Notre Dame for the Blue-Gold (spring) game this weekend!
“The Shirt” Unveiling:
Start your Blue-Gold weekend off by attending the unveiling of “The Shirt.” What is The Shirt you ask? The Shirt is a student run charity project. Money raised by The Shirt Project is used to subsidize student organizations and create memorial awards in the names of Notre Dame students. The Shirt Project preserves the charitable nature of the “T-Shirt for the Cause” campaign. Half of the funding provided by The Shirt Project goes to The Shirt Charity Fund, which helps Notre Dame students who suffer from extraordinary medical conditions that requires payment beyond their means. Medical bills add up quickly, and the money for unplanned accidents or illness is not always available. Thus, by paying medical bills on behalf of students, The Shirt Charity Fund allows Notre Dame students to continue their education and recuperation without the fear of not being able to return the next semester due to financial reasons. ( For more information about The Shirt Charity Fund, visit the Financial Management Board’s website here.)
Authors Note: Not everyone is all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to “The Shirt.”
See: Time to Fix The Shirt!
And while some are not fans of “The Shirt,” others can’t live without it … All Aboard: The Subway Alumni
On Friday, April 19 the 2013 Shirt will be unveiled to the public. The Shirt unveiling festivities will begin at 3:30 p.m., including inflatables, prizes, free food and drink (while supplies last), and local radio station 95.7 The Fan. Come see past Notre Dame players who will be on this years’ Shirt! Also, see performances by Notre Dame’s marching band, cheerleaders, the Leprechaun, Irish dancers, glee club, pom squad and 1st Class Steppers.
The stage presentation will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m., with head football coach Brian Kelly unveiling The Shirt at approximately 6:00 p.m.
Parking: Please be advised that parking will not be available in front of the Bookstore on the afternoon of the Unveiling. The auxiliary bookstore lot will be available as well as the Joyce Center lot.
Parking: For the 2013 Blue-Gold game on Saturday, April 20, the following parking lots will be open for fans. All parking is FREE with no parking pass required. Lots will open at 8:00 a.m.
- Reserved A
- D2 – accessible parking with shuttle service
- Innovation Park (IP)
Please reference the Game Day Parking Map for the location of all functioning Blue-Gold parking lots.
Tickets: If you don’t already have them, tickets are currently on sale for the 84th annual University of Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Game, Saturday, April 20, 2013. The 1 p.m. EDT Blue-Gold football game at Notre Dame Stadium is a fantastic opportunity to get a sneak peek at the 2013 Fighting Irish football squad. Proceeds from the Blue-Gold Spring Football Game help support the scholarship fund of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley.
Ticket Information: General admission and reserved gold tickets may be purchased online: CLICK HERE
- Press box and team brunch tickets are only available for sale via telephone at 574-631-7356 or in person at the Murnane Family Ticket Office, located between gates 8 and 10 of Purcell Pavilion
- General admission adult tickets are $12 each ($15 on game day)
- General admission youth tickets (18 years and under) are $8 each ($10 on game day)
- Children age 3 and under do not require a ticket for general admission seating areas
- Group sales of 20 or more general admission tickets (adults and/or youth) are $8 each
Team Brunch Information: If you’ve never attended the team brunch, it’s definitely something I would recommend you attend at least once. Included with each brunch ticket is a pre-game meal with the Notre Dame football team, exclusive access to an autograph session with the current team members and general admission seating at the game. Most tables will have a current football player seated with them, but due to demand, not all tables will.
- Team brunch adult tickets are $65 each
- Team brunch youth tickets (age 18 and under) are $40 each
- Children age 3 and under do not require a ticket for the team brunch
- Purchase limit of eight total brunch tickets
- Due to limited quantities, the purchase of both press box and team brunch tickets is prohibited
- Brunch is held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (north dome), enter gate 2
- Doors open at 9:30 a.m. with brunch beginning at 10 a.m.
Press Box Seating: Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the same view as media covering Fighting Irish football! Included with your press box seating are a game program and a press box lunch (hot dogs, soup, cole slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, cookies and drinks.)
- SEATING IS VERY LIMITED
- Press box seats are $100 each
- Purchase limit of four total press box tickets
- Due to limited quantities, the purchase of both press box and team brunch tickets is prohibited
Reserved Gold (chairback) Tickets: Do you want to enjoy the spring game in a seat more than the standard wooden benches? Purchase a reserved gold ticket!
- All tickets are $30, regardless of age
- SEATING IS LIMITED
- Purchase limit is eight total reserved gold tickets
Looking for a great burger joint? My favorite destination Friday night of Blue-Gold weekend (or any football weekend for that matter) is to CJ’s Pub. In my humble opinion, no weekend at Notre Dame is complete without a trip to CJ’s for burgers. CJ’s is well known for their great pub burgers, and has been a student favorite since 1984. When I was in school, CJ’s was just a hole in the wall. They had a fire a few years back and had to rebuild. The new CJ’s is bigger and better than ever! Now we not only include CJ’s in our Friday night dinner plans … but also for a little dancing on Saturday night as well, as they now have a dance floor! Go figure!
My second food recommendation is brunch at Tippecanoe Place. Tippecanoe Place is the former Studebaker mansion. It is one of the premiere landmarks in the heart of South Bend’s historic district, and the mansion is teeming with the charm and grace of yesteryear. The gracious spirit of the past still thrives in the mansion’s 40 rooms with their wealth of fine antiques, 20 gorgeous fireplaces, and hand-crafted woods. This is definitely a must do experience!
Nightlife you say? There are three spots that I would put on my “can’t be missed on a weekend to Notre Dame” list … The Linebacker Lounge, Corby’s and Brothers Bar & Grill.
The Linebacker Lounge is a favorite of students and alumni alike! The Linebacker Lounge was founded in 1962 by former Notre Dame football player Myron Pontios, and local businessman Stan Pisek. They converted the building which had been an old drive inn into the now famous bar. The Linebacker has been featured on the Travel Channel, “College Towns”, and in October 2006 was the remote location for the television broadcast of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the morning” show. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be on a football weekend (even spring football) than at the ‘Backer singing “Oh What a Night!”
Corby’s Irish Pub would be my next nightlife stop. Corby’s Irish Pub is a famous Notre Dame bar. The pub was established in 1990, and the movie “Rudy” was filmed at this location, which sealed the pub’s popularity. Corby’s is a very spirited Irish establishment and is the perfect place to be on football weekends when droves of alumni flock back to reconnect and relive their glory days!
Relatively new to the nightlife scene in South Bend is Brothers Bar & Grill. Located close to campus in the Eddy Commons, Brothers is great not only to grab a bite to eat, but also for late night fun. The place is huge, the menu is eclectic, and the music is loud but it’s a great time to hang out and people watch after some Irish football.
Whether you’ve been to campus before or it’s your first time to Our Lady’s University, there are some must see spots on campus.
From the day Rev. Edward F. Sorin, the founder of Notre Dame du Lac, embarked from Le Havre, France, bound for his mission in the New World, Mary, the Mother of God, was his guiding star. The culmination of this early Marian devotion can be seen today in Notre Dame’s stone grotto, designed to closely replicate the grotto in Lourdes, France where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. The Grotto has since become a favorite devotional spot on campus. People of all faiths have found rest and peace in this place of quiet reflection. The beauty of its natural setting, the soft candle glow, bestow a feeling of warmth and welcome upon it’s visitors. No tour of Notre Dame would be complete without a visit to this peaceful shrine nestled among the trees in the shadow of the Golden Dome, to light a candle and say a prayer. (Spring at the grotto photo, courtesy of Kathleen Souder)
Badin’s Log Cabin Chapel
After your stop at the grotto, take a walk around one of the two lakes on campus, and then continue the spiritual part of your weekend by visiting Badin’s Log Cabin Chapel and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Badin’s Log Cabin Chapel is one of the oldest landmarks on campus, and it is a must see for any visitor to Notre Dame, new or old.
The one-and-one-half story log chapel-cabin was built by Badin in 1830 and when Sorin arrived a decade later it served as living quarters (ground floor) and a house of worship (attic space) for several months until a larger log house was constructed. With the completion of this second structure (located east of Badin’s building), Badin’s chapel assumed two secular functions. The first floor was a carpentry shop, while the second story became a crowded dormitory for the brothers who, by 1843, numbered 18 men. Religious services were then held in a chapel in the larger log structure. (Log cabin history taken from: A Spire of Faith: The University of Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Church, by Thomas J. Schlereth. Sunlight over the Badin Log Cabin photo, courtesy of Kathleen Souder.)
After stopping by the Grotto and Badin’s Log Cabin Chapel, swing by the Basilica and take in mass.
Sacred Heart Basilica
Your next stop is the Sacred Heart Basilica, which stands in sharp contrast to the simplicity of the Log Cabin chapel. It’s majestic blue and gold will literally take your breath away. Our favorite Mass at the Sacred Heart Basilica is the 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning Mass. We have affectionately nicknamed it “Smells and Bells” because you get a healthy dose of incense, and the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir provides the beautiful music.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre Dame, Indiana, is the largest Catholic Church on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. It also serves as the mother church of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States. The neo-gothic church features 44 large stained glass windows and majestic murals which were completed over a 17 year period by Vatican painter Luigi Gregori. The basilica bell tower stands 218 feet (66 m) high. The current basilica was preceded by a smaller structure erected in 1848 by Father Edward Sorin, CSC. The current neo-gothic church was begun in 1870 and consecrated by Bishop Joseph Dwenger on August 15, 1888.
The Golden Dome
Situated right next to the Sacred Heart Basilica, one of the most well known campus sights is The University of Notre Dame’s Main Administration Building (known as the Main Building or the “Golden Dome”). The Dome houses various administrative offices, including the Office of the President. Construction of the Main Building began in 1864 and was finished in 1865. The building stood for 14 years before being destroyed by fire in the spring of 1879.
Father Edward Sorin’s unbreakable will was best demonstrated in 1879 after the disastrous fire destroyed the Main Building, which housed virtually the entire University. Father Sorin willed Notre Dame to rebuild the Main Building and continue its growth. “I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady,” he said. “But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make the point. So, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever.”
Immediately after the fire, the University took action, selecting a new design by Willoughby J. Edbrooke and began construction. The current Main Building was completed before the fall semester of 1879. The Golden Dome that caps the Main Building was a gift from the sisters of the adjacent Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame’s sister school. The Golden Dome stands 206 feet above ground level, and 125 feet above the roof of the Administration Building. The Dome, gilded in gold leaf, is 139 feet in circumference at its base and is topped by a statue of the Blessed Virgin which is nineteen feet high.
This is by no means an “all inclusive” list of things to do while you are at Notre Dame this weekend, but it will definitely get you started and on your way. Have a wonderful time on campus and “Cheer cheer for ole Notre Dame …”
For anyone who believes in second chances, USA Network’s new original series ‘The Moment’ is for those who believe in, or who have benefited from, second chances. Hosted by legendary NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, ‘The Moment’ gives ordinary people the unique opportunity to realize unfulfilled dreams and rewrite their life’s story. It gives them the second chance of a lifetime.
Each week, Kurt will surprise one person with their second chance: whether that’s becoming a race car driver, costume designer or sports photographer. Traveling far from their homes and families to pursue their calling under the guidance of expert mentors, each participant will prepare for the interview of a lifetime. In the end, they will find out whether they still have what it takes to pursue this career or if they’ve been living their dream life all along.
This week I got the opportunity to interview one of “The Moment” nominees: Vince Moiso.
Vince Moiso has lived and breathed football from a very young age. After a promising playing career in college (University of San Diego) and pro career in Europe, Vince not only played quarterback, but was getting involved with coaching as well. But that’s when tragedy struck. His father, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, took a turn for the worst and passed away. It was up to Vince to support his recently widowed mom. Vince decided to forgo his dream of coaching and went into the tile business and has built a very successful career. However, there is still something missing, and being a football coach would complete his life. Our mentor will get Vince back up to speed and prepare him for an interview with the most elite college football program in the country – the University of Notre Dame. Vince will have to dig deep to overcome the years away from the game, and decide if the life of a professional coach is right for him and his family. (Bio from USANetwork.com)
Vince stopped by the blog to answer a few questions about Notre Dame, Fighting Irish football and what Our Lady’s University means to him.
Q: How long have you been a Notre Dame fan?
A: “A true Notre Dame fan? Since September of 2012 after my experience here.”
Q: What is your first Notre Dame memory (football or otherwise)?
A: “The two kickoff TD returns by Rocket Ismail against Michigan in 1989. I remember watching it in total amazement, I was in high school at the time.”
Q: What is your favorite Notre Dame football memory?
A: “Rudy, seriously, if you’re a college football fan, who doesn’t love the movie Rudy? Is there anything more inspirational?”
Q: Did you play football in high school/college?
A: “I started playing football when I was 7 years old in Jr. All-American in Southern California. I played at McKay High School in Salem, Oregon and at the University of San Diego. I was a QB, and I also went on to play professionally in Europe.”
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a football coach?
A: “I started coaching kids when I was in high school. It has always come naturally to me. I just thought that football would always be a part of my life. I would play for as long as I could then transition to coaching. It seemed to be the natural progression, unfortunately it didn’t happen that way.”
Q: Who is your favorite Notre Dame football coach? and why?
A: “Probably Lou Holtz, because Notre Dame football was so relevant at the time for me. I was a freshman in high school when he won the national championship. I was paying attention to college football so he made an impression on me. I think from that 1988 team more than 20 players went on to play in the NFL. And I like seeing Lou on ESPN now!”
Q: What about Notre Dame makes it such a special place for you (and so many
A: “I could write a book on this subject. I’m officially a subway domer now. You see what I thought was a simple opportunity to get back into coaching at Notre Dame became so much more. I didn’t understand why Notre Dame until I got here. By day two as I walked into the Basilica it was clear why I was here. This place welcomed me with open arms and every person I have met associated with the University is more impressive than the next. There is an energy that you cannot explain unless you have been here to feel it yourself. As coach Holtz said, “if you’ve been there no explanation is necessary, if you haven’t none is adequate.” Any true Notre Dame fan has heard that a thousand times but I know it rings true every time they hear it. It rings true for me.”
Q: What is your biggest takeaway from your experience with ‘The Moment?’
A: “You would expect me to say the coaching experience itself or the opportunity, but it’s not the biggest takeaway. For me ‘The Moment’ was about personal growth. I discovered along the way that I had not seriously opened up about my father’s death over 16 years ago. The show helped me explore the guilt and responsibility I felt over his death. It forced me to open up and let go. Once I did I had the time of my life. It was a very special life experience.”
“And last but certainly not least … none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wife and two daughters.”
I’d like to give Vince a big thank you for stopping by the blog. Tune in to USA Network on Thursday, May 2nd and see if Vince got the job as a Notre Dame football coach!
I need your help!
Have you heard? I’m publishing my first book on Notre Dame football in August! It is a journey through the lives of 25 Notre Dame football players, from their time at Notre Dame, through professional football playing days and beyond. The common thread of all these stories you ask? The Notre Dame values stream! Our Lady’s University helped each one of these men, through good times and bad, and helped mold and shape them into … “The Men They Became.”
Okay, back to the topic at hand. I need your help selecting a title that best fits my book! Please weigh in and let me know which title you like best! One lucky participant will win one FREE autographed copy of the book! *Please only select ONE book title*
Vote here: http://woobox.com/9dg72z
(One vote per person. Voting will be open from Friday, March 29, 2013 through Tuesday, April 30, 2013. One lucky participant will win one FREE autographed copy of the book! Good luck!)
Thank you for all your help – the Notre Dame family has been a huge support! I’ll update you soon on pre sales and book signings! Hope to see everyone on campus next week for the Blue Gold game.