Well that would depend on who you are, but for me and a special subset of my friends, the point is not debatable.
Twenty years ago today, something very special was happening on the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s campuses. It was that year’s college Game of the Century, and for many ND fans who were there, it is still our game of a lifetime. FSU (#1) vs ND (#2) And while the season didn’t end as we all hoped, November 13 was Ahhh-MAZE-ing and will forever be one of my favorite days of my life.
Some of the best parts of the day include old men in plaid pants, FSU girls, O.J. Simpson (that memory has obviously since been tainted), pepper spray, permanent damage to my vocal cords, and my Freakiversary.
FSU girls: While my friends and I were walking on the Saint Mary’s campus, heading over to ND, a van full of girls pulled up. They were from FSU and they were trying to figure out where to go. We started giving them directions and they offered us a ride instead, so we all hopped in. They were funny and nice and just as excited as we were. And where there’s so often trash-talking and animosity, we were all just friendly rivals. I love to hate other schools because of football rivalries, but I always remember those girls from FSU and know that while I hate the school, I do not hate the students (very Dante, don’t you think?).
Old men in plaid pants: Like I said, it was the game of the century and both campuses were crawling with alumni from decades past. We had student tickets that required a student ID in order to get through the gates, but that didn’t stop the alums from trying to buy them from us. One leprechauny-looking man in particular stuck out in my memory. He was probably in his 60s, wearing plaid pants and an Irish beret (the kind with a pompom on it), and he offered us $1,000 cash for our student tickets. A thousand dollars! That’s a lot of money for a college kid, but this was the Game of Century! And besides, he wouldn’t be able to use it anyway. I’ve never regretted turning down his offer.
O.J. Simpson: Before O.J. killed two people, he was someone we were excited to see! It was a novelty to have him on campus, and not just before the game or in the press box, but IN the stadium! We could see him from our seats and we took tons of crappy pictures (we didn’t have the fancy picture-taking-phones that kids do now). I don’t know if his subsequent fall from grace makes it more or less of a story, nonetheless, his presence was definitely memorable.
Permanent vocal cord damage: When I was in high school I always thought it would be cool to lose my voice from cheering, but it never happened. Not even when we had swim meets and football games in the same day. My vocal cords were tough! In college I discovered this way to yell that was super loud. It went a little something like this: YeeeeeaaaAAAAAHHHHH! And started off loud and built up to ridiculously head-turning super-duper loud. It was not good for my vocal cords and after some games, I’d get a little raspy (which I loved so it just made me do it more!). But that day, I yelled a lot. Like, really a lot. So much so that for the first time ever, I completely lost my voice. I could only whisper. For THREE days afterwards, I had no voice. I thought I’d never be able to speak normally again. My voice did come back, but after that it didn’t take as many Yeeeaaaahhs to make me hoarse. And today I can’t even do them, and just regular shouting or cheering does me in. But it was so worth it.
Pepper spray: So, when #2 Notre Dame beat #1 FSU, guess what we did? We totally rushed the field. Guess what the security and field officials did? They totally pepper sprayed us. Guess how many students that stopped from going on the field? Probably none. Especially since by the time we got to the pepper spray, the easiest way to get away from it was to keep going down onto the somewhat open field. Even stinging eyes and runny noses couldn’t ruin the Best.Day.Ever!
I have many other fond memories of that day, and didn’t even get to explain to you my Freakiversary (so you’ll have to come back for that). But I’ll leave you with this…