Notre Dame football is ‘just who we are’

It’s not a choice, it’s just who we are. Hundreds of times in my life I’ve used this phrase either in person or in type in response to the same question. Why Notre Dame, John? And why love it so intensely?

It’s just who I am. I didn’t choose it on a whim or a hot run of late 1980’s Notre Dame football. To families like mine, South Side Chicago Suburban Irish Catholics, Notre Dame football is just an inherent way of life. Watching “Rudy” was a part of the curriculum twice a year in school. We wanted to be Notre Dame players for Halloween every year, not ghosts or goblins. We waited for the recruiting magazine to hit the front stoop like we were 7-year-olds on Christmas morning looking under the tree.

Notre Dame is just different. It doesn’t represent a geographical region like most colleges, it represents folks’ religion, heritage and values. The “Fighting Irish” moniker, once an insult, is now taken as a compliment as a nod to our ancestors’ journey, struggle and rise in America. For so many of us, Notre Dame represents these very personal, deep, meaningful and existential familial tales of struggle and triumph. The football team is the most iconic visual publicly known representation of Notre Dame and we value this entity being respected more than anything else. It’s personal to us, it’s just who we are.

NEXT: The start of Always Irish INC

But isn’t it funny how sometimes your love for something can remain so steady, yet change in presentation over time? From the days of sleeping overnight on the sidewalk in the one “game-day ticket sales window”  line outside Notre Dame Stadium to witness what would become the “Bush Push” game, to leaving multiple voicemails about Notre Dame’s performance to family members and friends for decades, I found a new outlet for this lifelong passion. A healthier one. A more productive one. One that connects people. One that gives the “regular fan” a voice and lets them know they are important and heard.

One that provides my soul football peace. Mid-2016, in the midst of a miserable 4-8 grind of a season, I turned my Notre Dame thoughts into a podcast. Enter “Always Irish”. And then a YouTube show. And then a radio program. And now to print. I’m honored to be invited to join the USA TODAY Fighting Irish Wire family and connect with more like-minded Notre Dame brethren in a new way.

At the end that’s what this fan base is at its core, one big family under Our Lady, through the good times and bad. I cannot wait to think, feel and discuss Notre Dame football with you as the Freeman Era enfolds. Always remember, it’s Notre Dame vs. Everybody, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Go Irish!

Feel free to also connect with me via YouTube or Twitter @alwaysirishINC.

John Kennedy

Check out John’s first couple of articles for Fighting Irish Wire:

Notre Dame-North Carolina recap:  Progress!

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: 3 confidences and 3 concerns

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire