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Like nowhere else

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I’ll never forget the cheers of the crowd as I ran into that end zone at the Rose Bowl last fall.

Of course, I wasn’t wearing a football uniform, or carrying a ball – I was just trying to get from the crowd of reporters surrounding Charlie Weis to the foot of the stands where the Irish players were celebrating their first win of the season.

But seriously, I ran nearly the length of the field at the Rose Bowl with a cheering crowd in my ears – which is something I never dreamed I’d be able to do.

That wasn’t the only once-in-a-lifetime event that happened to me over the last four years. When I graduated from high school, there’s no way I would have believed what I got to do while at Notre Dame.

I sat courtside at two NCAA tournaments – and, after the first one, a Chicago sportswriter wrote a column speculating that Luke Harangody would take his frustration over losing to Winthrop out on me.

I got carried away during a live nationally televised football debate with a Boston College student – and it earned me two weeks of hate mail and made me infamous to the Notre Dame internet fan community.

Charlie Weis knows my face. Mike Brey knows my name.

I was so close to two straight undefeated home basketball schedules that my computer has a crack from where a ball hit it.

In the chaos after the 2005 USC game, Pete Carroll almost tripped over me. I got to stay dry in the press box while storms drenched Notre Dame’s 2006 comeback against Michigan State. Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley called me on my cell phone once. I called Digger Phelps at home for a story and I’m sure I woke him up from a nap.

What did I do to deserve all this? Why did I get to go places and talk to people that I previously thought were out of reach?

I was in the right place at the right time – and by that, I don’t mean the basement of South Dining Hall during The Observer’s Frosh-O open house in 2004.

I mean I was at Notre Dame – period.

Long before “What are you Fighting for?” and the ill-fated “candle ad,” the University marketed itself with the slogan “Nowhere but Notre Dame.”

When I was applying to college, I thought that slogan meant the obvious things that set Notre Dame apart – community, spirituality, work-ethic, football, etc.

Four years later, those attributes are certainly true, but they’re not unique. Other schools have community, other schools are religious, other schools pursue excellence and far too many schools are currently better than us at football.

What’s unique about Notre Dame is that it’s small – but its reach is large.

This school only has 8,000 undergrads, but the 8,000 of us that go here have access to some of the country’s best academic programs, best professors and best extracurriculars. When we graduate, we lucky few become “Notre Dame alumni,” a group that stretches around the world.

And that is how I – basically by coming to this school and deciding to write for the newspaper – ended up on the field at the Rose Bowl, courtside at the NCAAs, and interviewed on ESPN. Because at this school, you can’t leave your dorm room without tripping over an opportunity to do something special, to be someone important, to change the world.

There are very few other schools that have that combination. Some schools have a large reach, impressive programs and a far-reaching alumni base. Others are small and have easy access to professors and extracurriculars. This school has both, and that – in addition to all the cliché stuff – is why there is Nowhere like Notre Dame.

Chris Khorey is graduating with a degree in history. He is from Grand Rapids, Mich. and can be contacted at ckhorey@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.