Game wows fans, draws crooks
Sonia Rao | Monday, September 11, 2006
Notre Dame students left the stadium elated with a 41-17 win over Penn State on Saturday, albeit with sore arms from doing an awful lot of push-ups.
While students were informed at Friday’s pep rally that Notre Dame Stadium had a reputation for being a quiet place to play, Saturday’s game seemed to be an anomaly to some fans, including junior Ben Fredlake, who transferred from the University of Arizona as a sophomore.
“I was at the USC game last year in the student section and I thought Saturday’s game was just as loud,” he said. “The atmosphere was so exciting, and the student section has its own cheers, which was something I didn’t see at U of A.”
For first-year students, Saturday marked a day of initiation into the student section. Freshmen experienced what it feels like to join the Notre Dame football tradition as a student for the first time.
“I loved it,” freshman Tina Tovor said. “As a student you’re in the experience – it’s all happening in front of you.”
Freshman Emily Stewart had been to Notre Dame football games before, but says going as a student gave the experience an entirely new feel.
“It was so different as a student,” she said. “I felt so much more connected, like ‘this is my school.'”
While freshman Cameron Hogue didn’t grow up going to Notre Dame football games, he called Saturday’s game “one of the greatest football experiences I’ve ever had.”
“You can just feel the tradition,” Hogue said. “It’s so unique for college football and something you can only find here.”
The first home game held surprises even for veteran upperclassmen, including the distribution of green towels bearing the words “Go Irish! 9-3 is not good enough.” The towels were meant to raise awareness for Hannah and Friends, a nonprofit organization founded by Charlie and Maura Weis, which works to improve the quality of life for those with special needs.
“I loved the towels,” said junior Scott Allen, who watched the game from a slightly different perspective as a tuba player for the marching band. “It was like the field was surrounded by chaos.”
Weis introduced another new Irish football tradition on Saturday when the team joined students in singing the Alma Mater at the end of the game.
“Singing the Alma Mater at the end of the game was awesome,” freshman Claire Connell said. “It was a really unifying experience – you felt like part of the team.”
Now a Notre Dame football veteran, Hogue said even for a game as hyped as this one, it lived up to and exceeded its billing.
“This game really exceeded all of my expectations,” he said. “Well, actually, you can’t have an expectation for something like this. It’s something you have to experience.”