So many of us dream about what it would be like to lace up the cleats and run out of the tunnel into Notre Dame stadium filled to the brim with screaming fans. You and I may never get that exact experience, however, we can get a glimpse of what Notre Dame football practice is really like and experience playing on the hallowed grounds of Notre Dame stadium at Notre Dame Fantasy Camp. This year’s camp was held the first week of June, and I had a chance to catch up with one of the participants, Jason Lynch, to learn what Notre Dame’s Fantasy Camp is really like. Intrigued?
Lisa: How did you first become a Notre Dame football fan?
Jason: Having family in the South Bend, Niles and Mishawaka area, we made trips up there during the holidays to visit. There were always Notre Dame games on the weekends and we made it a point to go by the campus. The history and tradition that is Notre Dame drew me in as a young child as well as my family being Notre Dame fans.
Lisa: What is your favorite Notre Dame football game of all times?
Jason: That is a tough one, with so many great games throughout the years. I would have to say that my favorite recent game was the Shamrock Series game in Dallas. I had the pleasure of taking my wife and children to that game and it was an all-around amazing experience. It was our second Notre Dame game going as a family. The first game we attended as a family, which was also the first game I saw live and in person, was the first under the lights game in Michigan stadium. The atmosphere at the Big House was as amazing as the atmosphere at the game in Dallas, however the Dallas game had a more home game feeling. We have planned to make a home Notre Dame game an annual family trip.
Lisa: Who is your favorite Notre Dame football player and why?
Jason: My favorite of all time would have to be Joe Montana, even though he played before I was born and won a National Championship the year I was born. I have rewatched many games he played in and he was one of my favorite players even in the NFL. There have been many greats to play the game before and since Joe, but Joe is my favorite.
Lisa: How did you find out about the Notre Dame Fantasy Camp? What prompted you to go?
Jason: Being a lifelong fan I had kept up with a lot of events going on at Notre Dame and this one peaked my interest several years ago. I spoke to one of my cousins who is from the area and became even more interested when she told me about the experiences a friend of hers had at camp. I knew then and there this would be an item to check off my bucket list as soon as I could. 2014 was my first year to go and after that I knew I had to go back. 2015 was my second year and was just as if not more amazing than my first camp.
Lisa: Can you tell us how the camp was structured? What your days were like?
Jason: The itinerary for camp is packed with all kinds of activities from practices to meals to downtime and everything in between. Days start out fairly early with breakfast and continue with practices and team meetings just like the current players and continue throughout the day. This camp is packed with Notre Dame football and is an absolute blast from the day you show up to the day you leave.
Lisa: What was your favorite part of camp? Least favorite?
Jason: My personal favorite part of the camp would have to be the friendships and the memories made that can not be duplicated, from running out of the tunnel to stepping foot where legends have trod. Out of every aspect of the camp I honestly cannot say there is a least favorite part. I guess the only least favorite thing is having to leave and say goodbye to the friends I have made and the realization that there are 52 weeks until we get to do it again.
Lisa: What former players were at camp? Who was your favorite and why?
Jason: There were players from all eras of Notre Dame football ranging from George Goeddeke, Tim Brown, Julius Jones, Kory Minor, Marc Edwards, John Carlson, Ricky Watters and many current players. The list goes on and on. You literally never know who could show up. This year we got a surprise visit from Coach Parseghian. Out of all the players who have been at the camp when I have been, I can’t say I have a favorite because they are from different eras and each player has the ability to make you feel as if you have been a friend forever.
From Coach Parseghian’s ability to put you on the field in the vividness of his stories to the very moving speeches by Kory Minor which motivates you to be the best you can be, both on and off the field. Literally every single one of the players have been top-notch!
Lisa: Would you attend Notre Dame Fantasy Camp again?
Jason: Absolutely. I had planned on this being a one and done, if you will. After the conclusion of my first year I knew this was more than just a Fantasy Camp. It was part of something much bigger than that. I have been blessed to make some friends that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make anywhere else but at ND. I plan to go as often as finances (and my wife) allow me to go.
Lisa: What advice would you give to others wanting to go to Fantasy Camp?
Jason: DO IT!! If you are a true Notre Dame fan this is the one experience you DO NOT want to miss.
Lisa: What’s your prediction for the 2015 season?
Jason: I don’t do numbers but I think this may very well be “Our Year”. We have the talent in every aspect to be a top contender in this years Playoff Series. I Believe.
Are you sold? Do you want to go to Notre Dame Fantasy Camp next year? Keep an eye on the Fantasy Football website for information about the 2016 camp!
Cheers & GO IRISH!