Championship game draws Irish faithful
Despite loss, fans cherish Miami experience
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 01:01
Despite the disappointing outcome of the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7, Notre Dame students and fans brought South Bend to South Beach for an entire weekend to support their Irish against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
Tens of thousands of Notre Dame fans descended on the greater Miami area in the days leading up to the game, including a star-studded Jan. 5 pep rally featuring such Irish legends as Lou Holtz, Joe Theismann and Mike Golic that attracted an estimated 20,000 fans to South Beach.
Junior Pat Wall said the Notre Dame presence in Miami was impossible to miss.
“Walking up and down the main street in South Beach … was just like walking through the quad on campus,” Wall said. “You knew someone everywhere you would go. The amount of Notre Dame fans in Florida that week was unreal. It seemed as if we moved South Bend to South Beach and I had the time of my life.”
Senior Ellen Carroll, who spent a week in Florida with her friends, said Irish spirit was rampant throughout the greater Miami area.
“It was like the entire school had an extra spring break in Miami,” she said. “The crowd was huge everywhere you went and the number of Notre Dame fans was overwhelming. I hadn’t realized before going down to Miami just how large the Miami area is … but you couldn’t go anywhere without running into people you knew and Notre Dame fans who wanted to talk to you.”
Carroll said she and her friends attended the Jan. 6 concert on South Beach featuring country group Dierks Bentley and hip-hop artist Flo Rida.
“They shouted out to the crowd to see if there were more Notre Dame or Alabama fans in the audience, and the Notre Dame fans were easily twice as loud as the Alabama fans,” she said. “It was pretty incredible to be able to travel so far from our school … and feel the same sense of family and school pride that we always have here on campus.”
Sophomore Christian Knight said the beachside concert was a highlight of his trip to Miami.
“While Flo Rida isn’t exactly the most musically talented artist, just being on the beach with over half the Notre Dame student body was unforgettable,” he said.
Carroll said the experience of supporting the Irish in Miami reinforced her love for the University and the members of its family.
“I never thought that I would have the chance to [watch Notre Dame play in the national championship] as a student here, and I was so proud to be able to tell people I met that we were students at Notre Dame,” she said.
Knight, who received a ticket to the game as a birthday present, said his favorite part of the championship experience was the gameday activities leading up to the ultimately ill-fated matchup against Alabama.
“Being able to sleep on the beach, attend several Notre Dame tailgates and attend the national championship game all on the same day … was one of the most unforgettable experiences I will ever have,” he said.
Wall said the extended gameday allowed more time to tailgate with friends and Notre Dame alumni.
“It was impossible to move 10 feet without running into someone I knew, had class with or just recognized from around campus,” he said. “There were so many alumni tailgating who loved to talk … about their experiences at Notre Dame, and I loved getting to hear about their college experience.”
Regardless of the final outcome of the game, Knight said he “would relive that weekend 100 times over.”
“There is nothing better than treating winter break ‘domesickness’ with a weekend in South Beach with all my closest friends from all across the country,” he said.
Carroll, who attended the game after receiving the ticket her younger sister won in the student lottery, agreed the experience was memorable whether the Irish football team was victorious or not.
“I’ve never experienced such an exciting pre-game atmosphere before,” she said. “The game itself was pretty painful to watch after the first couple minutes, but I would 100 percent go again if given the chance.”
Contact Kristen Durbin at firstname.lastname@example.org