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Sirianni: Captain Jack’s Buckeye attack

“Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Jack and I will be your captain today; if there is any way I can be of service, please let me know.”  This is a line that has become almost permanently ingrained into my head during the course of my summer job at Frankenmuth Funships in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  If I had a dollar for every time that I uttered these words this summer, I could buy my whole section tickets to this Saturday’s game.  

Over my two summers working at Funships, I have met people from England, New Zealand, Dubai, Russia, Canada and all across the United States.  

However, out of all the passengers I have served the last two summers, there is one group that stands out among the rest.  This population of native Midwesterners hail from a place so mundanely abysmal, yet it will soon play host to one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year.  

These passengers came from the state of Ohio in droves during what I would come to call “Ohio days”.  Super creative, I know.  These were the days when I would sail more people from that commonly teased state down the river than I would from my own home state of Michigan.  

It seemed that with each new group of guests from Ohio, not one of them wore anything but merchandise from THE Ohio State University.  They dressed their dogs, babies and begrudging spouses in the garish scarlet and gray that I could see a mile away as they walked down to my dock.

Whenever I saw a group of passengers like this, I knew exactly what I was in for.  We would share some small talk on the boat, and I would soft drop the bombshell to them that I went to Notre Dame.  This would usually be followed by a period of silence and then some banter about the game that lay waiting at the summer’s end.  

The Buckeyes on my boats never failed to bring entertainment to my other passengers and myself.  There was the woman who pulled up her shirt in the back to reveal her giant block “O” and buckeye nut tattoo to the rest of the boat during the tour.  How could I forget about the man who had worn the same Buckeye shirt for the past three days of his vacation because he had forgotten to pack anything else? 

My personal favorite, however, was the retirement-aged woman who, when asked if she had any connection to O.S.U., proceeded to unzip her hoodie and in a Superman-esque motion, reveal her bedazzled buckeye shirt.  Afterwards, she held onto my arm and as if it was her dying secret revealed to me that she would be buried in a scarlet and gray casket.             

In a way, I do have to thank this motley crew of Buckeyes.  I know Jack not the time for this, for their zealous spirit because with every T.O.S.U. fan I met, I began to imagine the days when I would soon be together with my friends cheering for Notre Dame Football once more.  The more they teased me about my home in South Bend, the more I visualized watching these Buckeyes have their hearts ripped out from the comfort of South Quad’s game watch.       

The Buckeye Battalion that I encountered throughout this summer as Captain Jack left me with one underlying message.  This is a fanbase and a team that is confident in their abilities and, frankly, rightly so, many people have them as their pick to win the title this year.  Even some of the Irish faithful feel that this is a challenge too great for Coach Freeman’s first regular season game.  To these passionate passengers of my boat and those needing some hope for this Saturday… pride cometh before the fall.                

Captain Jack signing off,

Go Irish. Beat Buckeyes.

Jack Sirianni

Contact Jack Sirianni at jsirian2@nd.edu.