The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will take on the #1 Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA tournament tonight!
I am South Bend born and raised (my childhood house was on 'Rockne' Drive), and I grew up with a father who lived and breathed Notre Dame sports (he's a '64 alum) so naturally I grew up to follow in the footsteps of a loyal fan.
Between football games and family picnics or cousins' weddings and school outings, there really isn't a childhood or adolescent memory I have that doesn't include Notre Dame. I was 12 years old in 1988 when Notre Dame last won a national championship football game, I drank my first beer (ok, wine cooler) in front of some tree on campus when I was 17 (sorry mom -- and sorry dad, that I can't remember which quad). My husband and I were married in a fall wedding at Notre Dame's basilica (an away game vs Florida State, at which we got a score update during the homily) and all four of my children were brought to Notre Dame to be baptized. I visit the gravesites of my maternal grandparents at the same cemetery on campus where Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was laid to rest.
Through the years, I've lived in several different cities, but no matter how good --or how crappy Notre Dame has been, I've always cheered my Fighting Irish. I've worn the hats and the T-shirts despite some heckling. I have rooted Blue and Gold since I was in diapers.
Until now... Sort of.
See, for the past 16 years, I've called Kentucky my home.
When Matthew and I met during college and he told me he was from Kentucky, I pictured he and his dad wearing overalls in bare feet chewing hay in rocking chairs on a quaint back porch. Most of that picture was not far off (pretty much the 'quaint' part was the only thing I got wrong). In any case, in the years I've lived here, I have loved everything about my Kentucky home. The beauty of green hills or a thick fog sitting beautifully at the back of our tiny farmhouse we lived in as newlyweds. I've boasted about our mild winters here (as compared to frigid, windy South Bend winters), and how I love the excitement over a two-minute horse race in May. I love that there is a Southern charm here in everyone you meet (who all happen to know or be related to everyone within a 90-mile radius). It's home.
It's a beautiful place to live and raise a family -- and root for teams.
People here love Kentucky basketball. Yes, there are Louisville fans galore, but nine times out of 10, the T-shirts you see here on a daily basis are big and BLUE. These Wildcat fans know their stuff --they can spout facts about games that happened 10 years ago, 20 years ago... and they've got big beef with that guy named Christian Laettner.
The Kentucky fans are loyal and proud -- and it's been fun to be on this big blue bandwagon the past 16 years.
But as the Wildcats face my hometown Fighting Irish today, I'm a little torn.
Obviously my Kentucky-born husband (a Notre Dame alum of '98 and '06) is not. He put on his big blue Kentucky T-shirt this morning to head up to Cleveland to see this game with his equally Kentucky blue-clad buddy. He laughed at the thought of NOT sporting his big blue today. He is the epitome of a Kentucky fan - you are born here and you cheer on the teams of your old Kentucky home. You bleed blue.
Yes, it's pretty much a win-win for us as to whoever ends up on top tonight, and I suppose if anyone is going to beat the big blue machine, Notre Dame might as well be the underdogs who do it.
So today my loyalty is without a doubt going to a team that has been part of my life since I can remember. My loyalty is with the Fighting Irish.
Today, more than ever, my blood runs blue and gold.
|Our Irish fans and a Wildcat. After, our son put on his UK shirt. I guess he's a Kentucky boy like daddy.|