You have to write an essay – and a good one at that – in order to be admitted to Our Lady’s University. But just anyone can buy, be given, or stumble upon a ticket to a home game. And I’m not exactly sure that’s appropriate. I think there should be an essay application for anyone – student, alum, subway alum, or first-time fan – who wants to enter the House the Rockne Built…except the other team’s people, who we know are illiterate. So I’ve taken this year’s actual essay questions, written by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and inflicted upon high school seniors, and I have reconfigured them to apply to ticket-holders. I encourage everyone who will be attending a home game this season to take this very seriously and consider responding to one (1) of these five (5) essay questions:
1. In his 2005 inaugural address, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, challenged our community: “We at Notre Dame must have the courage to be who we are. If we are afraid to be different from the world, how can we make a difference in the world?” When you leave Notre Dame, what is one way you will bravely face the world, stay true to your values, and make a difference large or small?
1. In his 1908 Victory March, John F. Shea, alumnus and Massachusetts State Senator, challenged our community: “We will fight in every game, strong of heart and true to Her name. We will never forget Her, and will cheer Her ever, loyal to Notre Dame.” When you enter Notre Dame Stadium for a game, how do you understand being strong of heart, despite the opponent’s ranking and the sports writers’ nay-saying; even with the peacock-worshipers’ interminable timeouts, do you appreciate what it means to cheer Her forever (or at least for the whole game including overtimes); and despite your feelings about a particular player, coach, or athletic director, and despite your deep-seated opinions about changes at the University (and changes to the Stadium in particular) have you really and truly learned the virtue of loyalty and do you properly practice it?
2. What is your proudest accomplishment that doesn’t appear on your résumé — an act for which you did not receive a trophy, grade, or other type of outward recognition?
2. What is the single greatest thing you’ve ever done for the Fighting Irish – complete loss of voice and headache for a week, painful leg and buttock cramps after hours of standing, scorching sunburn or pernicious chest cold due to exposure for half a day, smuggling in enough liquor to ‘light up’ your whole section, actually eating a Stadium hotdog and liking it – an act for which you received no outward recognition, but which you know, in your heart, absolutely contributed to an Irish victory that day?
3. Tell us about a time you fell in love… with an academic concept. What excited you about this idea, project, or lesson?
3. We know you fell in love with the Fighting Irish…but what first caused you to experience the phenomenon we call ‘tears of joy’? Was it when you first watched the Band play the Victory March in the Stadium, or when the gold helmets first poured out of the tunnel, or the first time you charged the field after a last-second victory? When did those salty trails of pure happiness first stain your face?
4. Why are you interested in attending the University of Notre Dame?
(Seriously…we ask a question like this? I don’t know if it’s self-serving or obtuse. Anyway…)
4. Why do you want to attend a Notre Dame home football game?
(The only acceptable answers are “Because I want to witness magic in my life,” or “Because it’s where Heaven and Earth meet,” or “Because, as a mortal, I know I will die someday, and if God is good, He will take me late in the fourth quarter with the Irish up by two touchdowns.”)
5. By the end of the college application process, you will have probably written dozens of essays and responded to a multitude of questions. Use this opportunity to try something new.
5. By now you are well aware that Notre Dame has been playing football for 126 years, is the last great independent team in the entire sport, has won 13 National Championships, has produced the most Heisman winners and the most All Americans, has been led by six hall-of-fame coaches, went undefeated in the regular season last year while being the first team ever ranked #1 on the field and #1 in graduation rate simultaneously, and with two classic feature films and countless legends is undeniably the most storied team in the country. Use this opportunity to tell us how you, personally, as a fan in the Stadium, are going to make this litany of success just a little bit better this year by your efforts.
- Good Fridays w/Padre: WORTHY! - November 30, 2018
- Good Fridays w/Padre: The Horror - October 26, 2018
- Good Fridays w/Padre: BALLS! - September 7, 2018
Can I just submit my work from HLS, Padre?
You may submit any written work that doesn’t have filthy, dirty, foul words in it. So that excludes any article that mentions Michigan, USC, Alabama…you get the picture.
4. Why do you want to attend a Notre Dame home football game?
Each individual on this Earth has a longing to achieve happiness. They will strive to reach that certain moment in time where all troubles of this world fade away and we all only left with the blissfulness that is called happiness. For me, personally, I find the Notre Dame campus on an afternoon (or evening if it’s a night game hopefully) in mid to late October to be exactly this. As mortals tied to this existence for only a brief period of time, we must consider the inevitability of our own deaths at some point. Everyone wishes to reach this ultimate end in this state of happiness, and I couldn’t think of a better place to finally meet the Lord and the Holy Mother than at Notre Dame (Seriously they can always be found on campus 24/7). A Notre Dame football game means more to me than simple words can sum up. It’s the one time each year that an individual like me, who has never attended the University, to witness and be a part of something that crosses all racial, faith, or cultural divides. It brings about a sense of nostalgia and euphoria unlike no other. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the rituals that fill this hollowed ground are nothing short of miraculous signs for us “true believers.” If I were to choose the time and place for where I were to leave this world, it would be nowhere else but at Notre Dame following an upset over the defending, and unbeaten national champions.
They say you can’t buy happiness, but you can usually buy a Notre Dame football ticket, which is ALWAYS good enough for me.
I hope the good Padre finds this essay to be satisfactory
Very good! Eloquent and concise, as well as mentioning The Lord and The BVM. You’re in. I’ll even put you in honors seating.
By Honors Seating, I hope you mean on the 50 yard line behind the Notre Dame bench
Yes. But not in the Gold Thrones, because I want you to be able to cheer and enjoy the game. I can seat you up with the CSCs, but that can be rather shocking because they swear A LOT.
I am sure it is just due to your busy schedule, and not age, that you have forgotten the 1931 classic (I assumed you attended the opening):
“The Spirit of Notre Dame” (1931)
courtesy of http://www.imdb.com
“Released a few months after the death of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, this well-intentioned film was dedicated to his memory. While J. Farrell MacDonald is right on target as the sympathetic but tough coach, the other actors and the thin story line seem corny and cliché to today’s audience. Andy Devine has some good comedy relief scenes with a touch of genuine pathos as a bench warmer who is the butt of the team’s practical jokes. But things go over the top when he is critically ill and delirious in the hospital, listening to the big game on the radio. When Notre Dame scores a winning touchdown and Andy reacts, the doctor hovering near by shouts, `By God, he’s going to pull through!’ Also starring Lew Ayres and William Bakewell, both much too thin to be football players! “
Lew Ayres … Bucky O’Brien
Sally Blane … Peggy
William Bakewell … Jim Stewart
Andy Devine … Truck McCall
Harry Barris … Wasp
J. Farrell MacDonald … Coach
Frank Carideo … Himself
Don Miller … Himself The Four Horsemen
Elmer Layden … Himself The Four Horsemen
Jim Crowley … Himself The Four Horsemen
Harry Stuhldreher … Himself The Four Horsemen
Nat Pendleton … Assistant Coach
Adam Walsh … Himself
Bucky O’Connor … Himself
John Law … Himself
Moon Mullins … Himself
Art McManmon … Himself
Al Howard … Himself
John B. O’Brien … Himself
Knute Rockne … Himself (archive footage)
Francis Ford … Alumnus (uncredited)
Florence Lake … Trixie Hayes (uncredited)
It is interesting the see the actual ND players in the film. Unavailable for decades (and thought lost), a DVD was made from a recently found old film copy around 2005 (?) (my memory says that it was found in an old box in the Administration Building….). I purchased a copy at the time.
Maybe not a much fun as “Knute Rockne All American” or “Rudy” it is still a movie from Hollywood.
I don’t count this as a great film because it has a character named Wasp. But we definitely need more incoming freshmen with names like Truck McCall
I had expected to fall in love in one of those Wagnerian swirls of thunder and noise they promised me in the operas through which I sat during my younger days – those interminable Sundays penned between Mater and Pater in their box at the Met thinking of nothing more than the meal that mercifully followed at the 21 Club. I learned to drink whiskey there, at the 21 Club, not the opera, and to smoke Galloises I bummed from the sous chefs when I pretended I had to use the restroom. Mom and Dad either never figured it out or didn’t care. Or maybe they were proud of me.
Instead, I fell in love slowly and incrementally, not recognizing it until it was far to late to do anything about it, not that I wanted to upon having the realization. Lest there be any confusion, though, the slow erosion of whatever defenses or resistance I had, did not last long, for this all happened during my first home game: Notre Dame v. Michigan in 1990.
I started the day amused by all that was going on around and me had gone around me in that first football week. I had never been there before, and seeing the secular pilgrims visiting their shrines: the Bookstore, South Dining Hall, my own room even! By the time my friend and I walked across the quad from breakfast, we knew things were changing for us.
We painted our faces because we thought that would get us noticed by girls. And it did. But not in a good way. We put t-shirts on our heads in a doomed attempt to look less insane. Had the administration harnessed our efforts, we could have together solved the problem of pre-maritial sex in a weekend.
We climbed the steps to our “seats.” They were worn numbers on a weathered board and we leaned our backs agains the sun-warmed stone of the stadium. “We’re in the last row,” he said to me. “These are the greatest seats in the place,” I said to him and we began screaming “PUT IN MCDOUGAL!!!” as The Irish ran out onto the field.
By the end of the night, under the sputtering sodium lights, after Meier had ended the affair by crossing into the endzone with his arms raised, a sprinting simulacrum of Touchdown Jesus himself, we and I and every freshman around me had fallen deeply in love with the place and the people around us.
I know this essay can’t get me back in, but if it helps another, Father, I’d be happy as I was on that crazy first night.
Your essay is… moving. You may come to as many home games as you like. And I will grant you one “grace and favor” recipient of your literary largesse – some young fan who needs a hand with grammar and imagery may use this essay as his own, and thereby gain admission to a home game.
I consider myself to be tremendously lucky for the fact that I have practically been an Irish fan for the entirety of my existence. Even in the most nascent times of my life, I feel I was drawn to Our Mother and to her University. However, it was not until the final game of 1990 that I truly came to the realization that the Good Lord’s plan for my life was to serve as a supporter of the greatest institution in the history of sport: The Notre Dame Football team.
I had been involved in little league sports for a few years at this time, but my interest in watching others compete in feats of athleticism had never quite taken hold in my psyche. I didnt understand that there was greatness to behold outside the 10-foot wide circumference that was my view of the world. It wasnt until an angel of The Lord came into view that I understood the power, grace and love that He could provide. In the bible(and that would be the N.A.B. version, not that heathen KJ stuff. Apocrypha and all, baby!) we are introduced to three names of God’s special envoys to the world: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. However, on a fateful night in January 1991, I saw an unnamed member of this troupe, surprisingly nicknamed “The Rocket.”
They often say The Lord works in mysterious ways, which I surely believe to be true. His way with me was to showcase the MVP of His team in an attempt to bring me closer to Him. I must say, not only has my love of sports grown because of this act, but my faith as well. Notre Dame football fandom has extended past my corporeal existence, past the realm of my consciousnss, and has ingrained itself into my soul. With every victory, I am brought closer to The Lord and with every loss, I go to Him for consolation. I implore you, Fr. Sorin, grant me the honor of continuing my fandom on the field this season and for every season remaining.
Congratulations! This coming-of-age story has won you the privilege of attending all the home games of your choosing. Welcome to the family!