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Students revel in the return of full-capacity Notre Dame football game versus Toledo

| Wednesday, September 15, 2021

This past weekend half of the tri-campus witnessed their first taste of what a normal Notre Dame home game is like, without so many COVID protocols in place. For some it was their first home game in a full stadium, for others it was the first home game in their college career, but for the upperclassmen it was a return to what they had come to know and love about Notre Dame home games before the pandemic: tailgating, a full student section and events all around campus pumping people up for the game against Toledo.

Meg Lange | The Observer
Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students complete touchdown pushups after the Irish scored against the Toledo’s Rockets in Saturday’s game.

The festive weekend started out with a Friday pep rally, which included a live band and all the Notre Dame dorms showing up to South Quad in style. Dunne residents came sporting Sentinel helmets, the Badin Hall women all wore frog bucket hats and Lewis Hall even had some residents in full chicken costumes. After what can only be described as the parade of Halls, the Notre Dame Poms team preformed, as did the Notre Dame Cheerleading team.

The big finale for the pep rally featured an appearance by the football team and head coach Brian Kelly. During his address to the crowd, took the time to thank the students of the tri-campus community for their support throughout last year’s football season.

“We want to thank our students who supported us through last year, during COVID, that where in the stadium, and were just incredible week in and week out,” Kelly said.

To conclude the pep rally, “Notre Dame, Our Mother” was played, and each person in the crowd immediately stopped what they were doing, grabbed the person next to them — whether they knew them or not — and started swaying and singing along in true Notre Dame fashion.

Later that night, the Notre Dame band continued the tradition of the midnight drummer’s circle. They performed for the substantial crowd that had gathered outside the golden dome, and as always, ended the night with the Notre Dame Fight Song and alma mater.

On Saturday morning the campus was alive with people. Tailgates were happening all over campus, with everyone preparing for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

The game began with a prayer remembering the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago led by University President Fr. John Jenkins and a flyover by two U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter planes.

As a way to get back to normal, the student section made its return, where students are assigned seating sections based on seniority. First-years are placed near the end zone, while the seniors are around the 20 to 30-yard lines. However, some students are being labeled in the wrong class year because it is determined by how many credits a student has, not by how long they have been at the school.

Saint Mary’s Senior Lindsey Herdsman was one of the students to be mislabeled.

“This year I was labeled as a junior instead of a senior and I did email [the ticket office], and they never got back to me,” she said.

The ticket situation seems to be causing a lot of confusion and frustration for some students across the tri-campus community. For others like first-year Maya McKler. there was only excitement in the air.

“I just feel blessed because we get a real experience right off the bat and especially after COVID it’s just the Notre Dame family,” McKler said.

When asked for her opinion on Saturday’s game versus last year’s games, Saint Mary’s sophomore Lauren Davis said, “The energy was so high compared to last year, and it was really cool to see everybody in the stands all together, students, families and all the Notre Dame fans just having a lot of fun together.”

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