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One last chance

Matt Lozar | Friday, November 12, 2004

It’s all over Saturday.

The Notre Dame Stadium lights will be shining down on our cold bodies as we look out onto the field for our last time as students.

The team will have already saluted us with their gold helmets and the rest of the fans will have left the Stadium, but some of us will just be sitting there in the freezing November evening, with tears rolling down our cheeks, not wanting it to end.

Unfortunately, it will have to.

Notre Dame football did have an impact on my college decision. I could have stayed at home and gotten a scholarship to a very good school. Knowing I would have passed up the opportunity to spend four years at the University I had watched on TV since I was 5 years old would have haunted me forever.

The memories aren’t overflowing in my mind about Notre Dame games from our youth. I remember wearing my 1988 national championship T-shirt and watching Shawn Wooden knock down Charlie Ward’s pass in the Game of the Century.

That’s why this weekend will be so difficult. That’s why I avoided talking, thinking and writing about it for weeks.

It took me 18 years to get to Notre Dame Stadium and now in what surely didn’t seem like three and a half years, it’s almost over.

My first Notre Dame home football game was Sept. 22, 2001 against Michigan State, 11 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Combining the emotions of that first game along with 80,000 people holding American flags chanting “U-S-A” is something I didn’t appreciate at the time, but do so now.

Our four years weren’t storybook. The team didn’t win a national title. We’ll remember Boston College as that team we never beat and always hate. The only thing that was consistent was the inconsistency.

The two field-storming wins over Michigan, the road trips to see statement victories at Florida State and Tennessee and the Return to Glory are just some of the good memories that will be brought up years from now.

The ushers will give us extra time, but at one point it must be over because, as painful as it is for me to write this, we do have to move on.

The next time we watch a Notre Dame game in the Stadium, we will be alumni. We’ll be the ones hosting the tailgates, inviting students and trying to feel young again. We won’t be standing for four hours, tailgating like champions or doing push-ups.

As students, Saturday’s our last chance.

Take your time leaving the Stadium.

I know I will.