On September 20th, I will be leaving the confines of Northern Virginia and heading west to South Bend, Indiana and home of the University of Notre Dame. It is a pilgrimage to the shrine of our blessed lady and to that storied football team that once so proudly represented her and, dare I dream, may one day again.
Since it is August 20th, a month before I leave (and seeing as I cannot sleep once again), I thought this a fitting place to begin.
To put this journey in it's proper context in my life will be no easy thing. There are so many metaphors to apply.
Let's start with the football team. An endless succession of disappointing seasons. Notre Dame last beat a #1 team on November 13th, 1993. That's right, it has been 19 years since the Irish beat a #1 ranked team. When the Irish beat Florida State in 1993, they ascended to the #1 spot and held it just one week. The Irish finished that season 11-1. They have not lost fewer than 3 games in any of the 18 seasons since then.
During that span, Notre Dame is 2-10 in bowl games. They have lost 9 of the last 10 to USC and 5 of the last 6 to Michigan. They have also lost 3 of the last 5 to Navy- something unthinkable when they were winning 43 straight against the middies.
There is an entire generation of kids that have no idea what Notre Dame football is supposed to be about. Each year, us older fans hope this will be the year they finally turn it around.
Yet, there is more than just the disappointment with wins and losses. Notre Dame football just isn't what it used to be because Notre Dame just isn't who they used to be. Something inside me says Don't give up the dream. Fight for Our Lady's team and her university.
In doing so, I hope to put to flight my own demons.