By Bill Tamburrino
I have an athletic Bucket List. I have been fortunate enough to attend several famous athletic venues and events: Several World Series games, an MLB All Star Game, a Super Bowl (it wasn’t called the Super Bowl when the Chiefs played the Packers in the Coliseum), NFL Pro Bowl games, games in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Rose Bowls, a World Series game in the Coliseum, Roy Campanella Night, The Indianapolis 500, an NCAA final four, finished a marathon, etc. But nothing I have ever done or experienced compares with the bucket list my daughters, Gina and Tina, gave me on Oct. 29.
I am and always have been a fan of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. My Irish Catholic grandfather and my Italian Catholic father drummed the “Victory March” into my head before I knew the national anthem or the “Hail Mary.”
Notre Dame’s motto may be “God, Country, Notre Dame,” but the university and its football program are really about tradition.
I have attended dozens of Notre Dame games at the Coliseum and one at Arizona State and I went to one at South Bend when I was 5 years old (well over 39 years ago), but I don’t remember much about the game.
My daughters, Gina and Tina, went to a silent auction that had a Notre Dame Football package and purchased the package last spring. So on Oct. 27, my daughters and my wife, Margaret, and this writer left sunny San Diego for fall in South Bend, Ind., via Chicago.
The actual game was only a part of the experience. Driving from Chicago to South Bend with a side trip to Gene & Judes for the world’s best hot dog was a treat. The colors of fall in the Midwest are majestic.
Upon arriving in South Bend we visited several restaurants (also watering holes that don’t sell water): The Linebacker, Mulligan’s, and then went for pizza at Rocco’s “Another South Bend tradition.”
On Friday we toured the Notre Dame campus. Pictures and the shots on NBC don’t do the Golden Dome, the Grotto, the Basilica, Touchdown Jesus, We’re Number One Moses or the stadium justice. One doesn’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the majesty of the Basilica or the Grotto.
We finished the day with a visit to the Notre Dame Bookstore. Notre Dame is about tradition. The Notre Dame Bookstore is about capitalism.
We did a lap around the stadium and went through the tunnel that leads onto the field. That is where one is hit by the awe of tradition of Notre Dame Football. The stadium is closed with gates that can be seen through. Through every gate one can see pictures and plaques, records, lists, statues and memorials. Tradition.
On the lap around the stadium there are statues of the Notre Dame coaches who are legends. There are statues of all five of the Notre Dame coaches who won national championships: Knute Rockne (3), Frank Leahy (4), Ara Parseghian (2), Dan Devine (1) and Lou Holtz (1). I had my picture taken in front of the statue of Frank Leahy in honor of Ramona businessman Sean Leahy.