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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
The Observer

The spirit of Notre Dame is back

There’s a (new) Magic in the Sound of Her Name ... There is a palpable energy on campus right now. You can feel it. I was able to go over there Thursday for a meeting and realized it was something we’ve been missing for a long time now. What is it? It’s that spirit of Notre Dame that we all carry in our hearts. When Marcus Freeman was picked as head coach, I was excited because he seemed to embody qualities we all desire to carry as members of the Notre Dame family.Then, I saw the video of him being announced into the locker room. That said it all. I get chills every time I watch it. What we saw is exactly what I just spoke about — the spirit of Notre Dame — and it just blew the roof off of that locker room. Marcus Freeman becoming Notre Dame’s head coach seems to have given all of us permission to reignite that spirit within us that we didn’t even know was dormant.Was this past week rough? Yes. I cannot even begin to imagine what the players went through, or how they felt. Nobody wants a punch in the gut. But I’m also a glass-half-full thinker. So here’s what I do know. I’ve been knocked down enough times, and been through enough storms to know if you trust God in the storm, He will always blow you away with His plan.Sometimes the wrong things have to happen so the right things can. Sometimes you’ve got to break down to break through. God is known for making beauty from ashes, and we are about to see what I think will be one of the best seasons of Notre Dame football we’ve ever seen. I just wish my Dad was alive to see it.So we’ve got to trust that God has a plan. He knew the timing of all of this. He knew exactly who he wanted to be the next coach. He even knew Brian Kelly would leave. So you’ve got to thank the good Lord that He did what only He could do to get us what we needed. This wasn’t just about us getting a coach. It was about our team and our school getting its heart back, because that’s how our guys play on the field and how we all show up for life — with heart. So God (who sees our hearts) found a guy who has heart, to connect to the hearts of those team members. That is what I believe reignited the fire in all of our hearts for that spirit of Notre Dame. That is also what I believe makes this even bigger than potentially winning a national championship. God is in it and He’s given us our hope back. Think about this: When is the last time you saw players say they wanted someone to be their coach? I know in all of my time at Notre Dame I’ve never seen it. Now, there wasn’t social media when I was an undergrad. But still, to see some of these players post what they did on social media — “We want Freeman!” — and then to see it play out in the locker room? Powerful stuff. In fact, the only other place I could think of it was in the movie, “Rudy.” (Yes, I know, overplayed. But stay with me for a minute). Remember the scene when all the players walked into Dan Devine’s office, wearing their letter jackets? Each one of them comes in, dropping their jerseys on his desk and saying they want Rudy to play in their place. Now, this is a completely different situation and person — but it’s the sentiment. In both cases, the team players were passionate about a person that displayed that powerful spirit of Notre Dame. In both cases, the players used their voices to stand up for what they wanted. This time, thankfully it was for Marcus Freeman and it seems because they wanted Him, he’s not just the team’s coach, he’s our coach because we are Notre Dame.Knowing that the players are behind him is one thing, but to then hear him echo that sentiment in his first locker room speech as head coach shows what an incredible leader he is and will be. He has a great reputation and I know some consider him an underdog because of his age and lack of previous head coaching. But that’s the beauty, because you know God’s going do something amazing in him!God’s favor is upon this team. He will do great things through them, through this coach and through our Notre Dame family because he just lit the fire in our hearts again. We’ve got the spirit back we didn’t even know we needed.We are all behind you, Coach Freeman and team. Thank you to whoever made this happen, especially to the football players for standing up for your choice. You’ve inspired us all. May God bless you on the field and beyond. May God bless you, Marcus Freeman. May God bless Notre Dame and may all of our hearts beat again as we hear the sound of her name. 

Meredith Terpeluk Schoeller

class of 1999

Dec. 3

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.