The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Women’s Interhall Football: Three seniors look to end careers in the same way they started

Megan Finneran | Friday, November 20, 2009

For some college girls, freshman year includes sorority initiation and learning the tricks of the trade from older girls. Three years ago, three Pasquerilla West freshmen found themselves in a similar scenario, but instead of nights of frat houses, dresses and heels, their experience included freezing cold practices, flags around their waists and gym shoes.

In 2006, Cynthia Curley, Alyssa Moya and Caitlin O’Connell were three of only five freshmen on their championship-winning football team. Now as seniors they are facing their last chance to return to the top.

“Every single game for the past three years has been dedicated to this very moment: returning to the Stadium my senior year,” Moya said.

But before that game comes, the girls took a walk down a very satisfying memory lane and reflected on their past together. Their story as a whole begins with one common memory: That first practice so long ago when they felt intimidated by the older girls and feared being able to fit in with them.

“I felt as if I had stumbled into some sort of secret society,” Curley said. “The girls were all friends, and they had all these cryptic inside jokes.”

After that first practice, their nerves vanished. They quickly became part of the Purple Weasels team, joining in on team dinners, parties and what Curley referred to as “endless G-mail chains.”

“[Pasquerilla West] football brings girls together in a unique way I have never seen before,” Moya said. “Everybody is so incredibly close, no matter what year you are or what section you live in.”

In addition to remembering their close camaraderie as a team, the three current seniors also remember the seniors who started them on the right path.

“We owe so much to those seniors,” Curley said. “They are the ones who really built this program and taught us to take pride in it.”

“Our captain Maureen ‘Mo’ Spring was my idol. I hoped someday I could be half as good as she was,” Moya said.

Remembering that amazing season and final game only makes them want to repeat the win even more.

“Running out of the tunnel in the Stadium remains one of my most cherished memories of college,” O’Connell said. “I spent much of that game on the sidelines, but I was never disheartened; I loved cheering on my teammates and when the last second ticked away, I loved being a champion.”

As much as O’Connell remembers running out of the tunnel, Moya remembers celebrating later that night.

“The post-championship game celebration was the best night of that year,” Moya said. “Several bottles of apple juice were sprayed on the balcony while the leftovers were drunk through spiral straws from the trophy cup.”

Circumstances have definitely changed for Purple Weasels football and for these girls since 2006. They have grown from the underdogs with mismatched jerseys into a smooth-looking powerhouse. Even with a new team, these girls know deep down some things never change.

“We still have that same fire and swagger that won us that championship in ‘06,” Curley said.

Now these girls have grown to become the ones they admired so many seasons ago. After two less successful years, they knew coming into this final one, they had to step it up. It certainly doesn’t hurt that these seniors are not only teammates, but friends.

“Prior to every single game in our four years, Cynthia and I have done a “pulse” routine that motivates us beyond belief in order to get the job done,” Moya said.

They used this energy and channeled it to the rest of the team. Since the beginning of the season, Curley, Moya and O’Connell have built a group that could cooperate on the field, but also that could be friends outside the game. It has been the small things like pasta dinners and eating Lucky Charms for good luck that have helped these women lead their team back to the Stadium.

“We are the veterans of the team, and the Stadium is familiar territory to us,” Moya said. “We are going to use the past experience to our advantage, and as seniors, hopefully finish Sunday’s battle the way we started freshman year, as champions.”

Regardless of the score, this will mark the end of a long string of happy memories for these three Weasels.

“This has been the perfect season in so many ways,” O’Connell said. “When I remember the euphoric feeling of holding that championship trophy, all I want to do is win. This is our year.”

“[Pasquerilla West] football is one of the greatest things I’ve been a part of in my four years here, and win or lose I will cry on Sunday after playing my last game for the [Weasels],” Curley said.