Feeling a little tired – even after a week of recovery from the 2014 season. As I did a couple of local errands yesterday I realized this is my first weekend home since February 9th. Might explain some of it.
This being my last post, you’ll excuse me if I reflect a bit.
Zach Brenneman arrived on Notre Dame’s campus in the fall of 2007. Since then the lacrosse team has played 114 games in 19 different states over the past 7 years. We have been to 112 of them and full disclosure – I witnessed 111 of them. As I sit here today, even in the midst of exhaustion from another season, I’m sorry that we missed the other 2. The blogger in me knows it would have made for a better story.
We’re not alone in our (my) obsession. Doug Hopkins attended every game this season. Darryl Ciambella attended every game for the 4 years that Matt played – traveling from Buffalo. Still remember one trip where his flight was cancelled because of a snow storm. Darryl drove to Philadelphia – the nearest airport that would get him to where he wanted to go. That’s a 280 mile drive just to get to the airport. And then the same drive home after the game. Nuts.
The Keppeler’s and the Beattie’s may have done the same over their four years. The two gentlemen in those families are a tad loose with the facts from time to time so one never knows. I’m sure there are others. Not surprisingly, I got to know the families Ciambella, Hopkins, Keppeler and Beattie pretty well over the years.
The team has played in 3 different conferences during that time. First the old Great Western, then the Big East, and now the Atlantic Coast. This year’s schedule, and I know I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know, was far and away the most challenging. And winning the ACC Tournament is right up there with the most rewarding.
For most of us, even home games at Notre Dame are away games. As an example, I traveled approximately 21,000 miles this year from door to door. I haven’t gone back all 7 years but it isn’t a stretch to say that I traveled over 125,000 miles. And because of that – I firmly believe our Notre Dame parent group has greater bonds and relationships than any other program in the country. We share more overnights, more meals, more drinks, and as a result just more time together. Its one of those secrets the coaches should be sharing when recruiting the parents.
The first game I ever attended was, of course, very memorable. Notre Dame played Georgetown in a fall ball match up at some high school in Virginia. Bob and Cheryl Kemp hosted the team and the parents for dinner back at their home after the game. Kind of ironic that I found myself hugging Cheryl at my final tailgate on Monday.
Best trip ever? That is an easy one. In the fall of 2011, Notre Dame played Johns Hopkins in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. A large parent group traveled out to the game and I organized a day trip to Napa Valley. Should have known that an organized trip of day drinking with this group would turn into spontaneous hilarity but what followed exceeded all expectations. A bus took about 25 of us for the hour-long ride from San Fran up to Napa. We started with a tasting and a tour of Schramsberg at 10 AM. Followed that up with a lunch at Gott’s Roadside (Taylor’s Refresher) and then another tasting and tour at Rubicon (now Ingelnook) in the afternoon. Let’s see, sparkling wine in the morning, a glass of wine at Taylor’s with our Ahi sandwich and then some more wine in the afternoon. Coors Light then made an appearance on the ride back as I recall. Mr’s Keppeler and Dobson provided the entertainment. No one on that bus ride will ever forget the day.
Best venue? Philadelphia’s PPL Park in the shadows of the Commodore Barry Bridge. Great architecture and a perfect size for a quarterfinal game. Notre Dame has played there three times – and won all three with wins over Virginia in the NCAA tournament and Maryland and Syracuse in the ACC tournament.
Best game during my 7 years? I may be viewing this through a narrow lens but Notre Dame’s quarterfinal overtime win over Albany two weeks ago. Just watching the Thompson show was memorable. Coming back from 12-7 with 8 minutes left to win in overtime was, well, unforgettable.
The 2010 and 2014 national championship games are right there of course. Especially 2010 because it was just so unexpected. A different result and it wouldn’t even be a discussion.
Best part of having a son go to Notre Dame? That’s also easy. All of you. Schools like Notre Dame don’t just attract good kids – they attract great families. So many wonderful friends and terrific memories.
This is it for me as it is time for a new voice to carry this forward. We created a blog to track our experiences 3 years ago and now have over 62,000 hits. If I could only figure out how to monetize the thing!
So long everyone. Loved every minute.