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| Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When you come to college, there are certain expectations. You expect to make new friends. You expect to have more fun than you thought possible. You expect to be broke. You expect to make memories, to make a fool of yourself, to have the time of your life. You expect to study, at least a tad. With Notre Dame, you expect to watch some football and to become part of your dorm. We all come to college with expectations, and I was no different.

What I’ve found however, is that much of the greatness and many of the best memories of college are those you did not expect. They are the things you did not and could not see coming. It’s the random conversation produced by a chance encounter that ultimately changed your major. It’s the club you joined by chance. It’s Hip Hop Night.

Just about everyone has a handful of decisions they didn’t know they would make, a handful of people they didn’t know they would meet and a handful of paths they didn’t know they would take. So when I decided to hop aboard with my friends and coach women’s interhall flag football, I didn’t exactly know how it would go.

I quickly learned, however, that this would be one of those experiences to remember. I learned it was a great way to spend time with old friends and make a bunch of new ones. I learned that if I wanted anything to do with coaching the Welsh Family Whirlwinds, there were two requirements. I had better have a darn good RBF (resting, uh… “witch” face) and I had better hate communism, and, if possible, the Huns as well.

As coaches, my friends and I learned that for every terrible coaching decision we make, we’d be bailed out by some pretty incredible players. We learned that there’s nothing like watching the quarterback take a broken play and make it a touchdown. There’s nothing quite like watching a team “get it.” We learned to remind players that it’s okay to be aggressive. We learned to remind players to then stop short of “accidentally clotheslining” the running back. We’re still not sure how that happened. We learned there were a lot more of players saying “sorry” than in the football we’d played before.

We learned that sometimes going the improv route for your pregame speech works out better than writing it, but that the same doesn’t hold true for in-class presentations. We learned that any team is only one Keenan Roller Disco away from injury. We learned that snow football is still fun and that the Hoedown Throwdown is always a great idea.

We learned that no matter how hard we try the “Statue of Liberty” play, much like “fetch,” it’s just not going to happen. We learned that you’re never too old to play sharks and minnows and that any practice is always a player coup away from devolving into “never have I ever … ” Yeah, so the coaches still don’t entirely understand girls …

We learned that it’s possible to care more about Whirlwind football than Notre Dame football. We learned that Golson to Koyack against Stanford has nothing on a last-play win over PW or a fourth down goal line stand against Cavanaugh. After eight games, and eight wins, we learned that winning is pretty darn fun. We learned that flag football is a sport equal part wheel routes and RomCom references. It’s a chance to have a ton of fun with a ton of great people. In the words of one coach, “We get to be cool uncles.” In the words of another, far less mature one, “It’s more like drunk uncle. Druncle, if you will.” Go Irish?

Ultimately, the season has been a blast for each and every one of our coaches. We got to know 20 truly incredible girls and be a part of an incredible team for an incredible season. With one game to go, it remains to be seen who will emerge from the stadium showdown come Sunday. Win or lose, however, this season of Whirlwinning will truly be one of the greatest,and unexpected, experiences of my time at Notre Dame.

Matt Miklavic is a senior finance and political science major from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He still doesn’t understand why Tom and Summer didn’t end up together. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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