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Seniors to see final home game

Maggie Dunn | Friday, November 17, 2006

Four years ago, they set foot in the Notre Dame Stadium and experienced the overflowing pride of Irish fans, football players and students on their own turf. Now, as Saturday’s matchup against Army approaches, thousands of seniors face the bittersweet goodbye that is their last home game as students.

“It’s pretty sad because it’s been a part of my life for four years and to say goodbye is going to be tough,” Saint Mary’s senior Lauren Sheldon said. “Although I am pretty sure I’ll go to games after I graduate, I’m going to miss the student section because it is a different experience from the regular seats.

“At my first Notre Dame game before I was a student, I would watch them in fascination,” she said. “Then when I got to be a part of that, it was amazing.”

Notre Dame senior Matt Buckle said he’ll miss the tailgating – but also the stadium itself.

“I’ll miss being at Notre Dame Stadium,” said Buckle. “It’s probably one of the best stadiums in the country, and most people don’t even get a chance to go there. I take it for granted a lot, but Saturday I won’t. I’m not leaving until the janitor from ‘Rudy’ kicks me out.”

While many fellow seniors share mixed feelings nearing their final home game, they also hope to make the day a memorable one.

Sheldon said she wants to take more pictures than usual, get there early and not leave until the very end. Buckle will enjoy the game with friends coming in from out of town, but he also plans to make the most out of what he presumes will be a

n easy win against Army.

“I think Army is a good opponent for the last home game because we’re probably going to win by a lot, and a lot of scoring makes for more memorable push-ups. I definitely want go up,” he said.

Though they soon face the end, the seniors enjoy reminiscing about the last four football seasons at Notre Dame.

“I have lots of memories,” Sheldon said. “I’ll always remember when the leprechaun threw a Rice Krispie treat at me and when we gave James Aldridge push-ups last year when he was in the recruiting section.”

Sheldon, like many other seniors, noted that her favorite game was against the University of Southern California last season despite the loss.

“I went crazy when they ran out in their green jerseys,” she said. “Then towards the end of the game, I rushed the field when I thought we had won. Although the ending was sad, it was still the best game of my four years.”

Buckle also recalled a memory of rushing the field for the win against Michigan his sophomore year, another game that stands out in the mind of several seniors.

“I got a handful of grass and put it in my pocket. It was awesome,” he said.

Satisfied with a solid four-year run and especially the success of these last two seasons with the arrival of coach Charlie Weis, the seniors are happy to be ending on a positive note. Many look forward to an exciting game against USC, as well as the possibility of a big game in January.

“I’m happy about it,” said Buckle. “We’ve only hit one divot in the road so far this year against Michigan and that’s just one loss, so it’s a pretty solid way to end up the season.”

Sheldon echoed her sentiments.

“I feel like we’re ending on an optimistic note,” she said. “I would have loved to have been undefeated right now, but I’ll take only one loss.”

Not only are senior fans leaving, but 28 football players are graduating – which, students say, makes Charlie Weis’ upcoming third season unpredictable.

“It’s going to be a test of Charlie Weis’ coaching ability because a bunch of new recruits are coming in, like Jimmy Claussen,” said Buckle. “And a lot of freshmen are going to be put in starting spots, so it should be an interesting year. We’ll see if they can step up or not.”