Welcome to the refreshed One Foot Down!
To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card . We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
My story on why I am a fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish isn’t an original tale. In fact, I think you would find that any extraordinary account from a fan, would be quite that- extraordinary.
No, my story begins as so many do. I was a child. My father, a Sicilian Catholic only one generation removed from coming off the boat, was a fan of Notre Dame.
The first game I remember watching with my father was in 1987. I remember the way he shouted out. My father never showed much emotion, and seeing how the game moved him was quite an eye-opening experience for me. I don’t remember who the Irish played that day, but they did win the game. I remember thinking that this game was incredible. While I was no stranger to baseball and basketball games at nine years old, it very well may be the first football game that I watched.
I was more than eager to start the 1988 season. I was belligerent. I watched every game that I could with my father, and on Sundays, I would read and reread everything written in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (the worst newspaper coverage for any team anywhere). I studied the box scores and let myself flashback to the day before.
I was in love.
On January 1, 1989, my family moved from downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana to Hicksville, Ohio. Hicksville was just about 20 miles away — just over the border.
The Fiesta Bowl was on deck, and we were hustling to get things moved into our new home.
I’m not sure why, but I left that day with my uncle and cousin, and went back to their house. We watched the game, and it was great. But I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out by not being there with my father.
Fast forward 5 years, and the 1993 season is underway and OH BOY. I’ll spare you all the glorious details, save this:
- I was grounded by my mother (for what I can’t remember) for the Florida State game. I wasn’t allowed to be downstairs and watch the game. Dad did let me watch it in my room, but that was a sweet 13” black and white TV that you had to hit every once in a while to set the picture straight.
- We were stuck at a wedding for the Boston College game. I remember sitting in our van, listening to the radio. By the end of the game, dad was furious, and I found myself much the same, except my anger and disappointment gave way to a few tears that rolled down my cheeks and onto my lips.
Never would I have guessed that it would take almost another 20 years to feel that rush of a championship run again.
Through all this time, I became a fanatic. Why? Because of my father. Throughout my life, my father and I can go great lengths of time without speaking. Sometimes the conversations are merely a few sentences, and sometimes they just play the role of catching up. There are those other times though, when the Fighting Irish football team is the topic, and that is something that is never lost or forgotten.
There is the simple truth. I am a fan of Notre Dame because my father is a fan. When I asked my own children just the other day why they loved the Irish, they said, “Because of you, daddy.”
How funny and completely unsurprising it all is — and how wonderful.
What’s your story?