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The Florida Adventures: Part I

Feb 13, 2013, 11:39 AM EST

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Fans, boosters, alumni, Oprah, lacrosse community, I apologize for the span of time since the last #NDlax blog. I hope the last couple of months have been as crazy for you as they have for me. My journeys over the past two months have included California, Hawaii, Miami, Baltimore, the Bend, and Orlando. My vitamin D reserve has never been so full.

The adventures truly began about a week before the BCS national championship game. It seemed that anyone who I had ever met, with any affiliation to Notre Dame, was headed to Miami. People who were even 5% Irish were hopping on flights to go see the game. I cannot blame them. My father and I caught a red-eye three days before the game and made our way down to Miami.

As soon as we arrived in South Beach it was clear who had attracted more fans. Even though I was staying at the hotel next to Alabama’s team hotel, a casual “Go Irish” was exchanged about every ten feet. My first few days included much relaxation and exploring.

On the second day, my father, a few family friends and I, rented a boat and toured around the bay. Boating by the legendary Star Island where Beyonce, Quint Kessenich, Kevin Randall, Tom Cruise, and other famous celebrities have massive estates. We capped off the day with a big game between the Miami Heat and the Wizards. Quick shout out to junior middy Matty Collins for being such a life long fan to #ZardNation.

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The following day the Irish community really began to come alive. It was the night of the pep-rally, and I had never seen so many Irish fans. The crowd covered South Beach in navy, gold, and green. I couldn’t wait to meet up with my teammates, three-fourths of whom had made the trip, and start enjoying the scene.

Using junior defenseman Mike Shepardson’s calves as a landmark, we all met up and headed into the pep-rally. The all-star cast of speakers had the crowd cheering, laughing, singing, and Irish jigging for almost two hours. With a lineup including Lou Holtz, Joe Theismann, Tony Rice, Pat Terrell, Mike Golic Sr., and comedian Martin Short it was nothing but pure entertainment. It was simply incredible to see the sea of Irish fans packed on the beach. After hanging out a bit longer it was time to head back and get a good night’s rest before the big day.

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I awoke feeling like it was Christmas morning. Exchanging snow for sunshine, and “Merry Christmas” for “Here we go Iriiiish.” My father and I ate some lunch and started heading to the game. Traffic was brutal and anticipation was killing me, but we finally made it to the stadium and parked. After hanging out for a while we parted ways and I ran to go find my teammates.

Along the way I heard someone yell “Mixy” and quickly did a 180. It was none other than former Irish lacrosse star and blogger Duncan Swezey. After hanging out with Duncan and his family for a while, and making sure he was holding down California while I was gone, we continued on to find other Irish lacrosse members.

No more than fifty yards away, we found them.

The scene was like something from Project X. The environment was electric, as chants and cheers continued like a Bruce concert. It was simply an amazing place to be. The experiences I had with my teammates and classmates, all rallying behind one team and University, were incredible. But that was only a small percentage of influence on the day. Like I had mentioned before, anyone who had ever considered himself or herself an Irish fan was in Miami that day. It was like a home football game times ten.

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It got close to game time and I met back up with my father to walk up to our seats. The stadium was literally rumbling from the noise of the crowd. As the teams were introduced and took the field I couldn’t help but get shivers, especially with the massive uproar for the Irish. It was an incredible feeling that only a few can really experience, and I am grateful for this opportunity that was given to me by the hard work of the football program and its supporters.

Then the game happened…It went, OK. You have to hand it to Alabama and the SEC. They can just straight up play football. It was incredible and exciting to watch.

All A.J. McCarron girlfriend jokes aside, Notre Dame’s run to the national championship game will become a landmark that the school has been searching for. While Alabama dominated the game on the field, there were still many aspects that made me proud to be a Domer. The statistics I take away from the game are not in field goals or touchdowns (or lack there of), but rather in graduation rate. As Notre Dame established itself as both the number one football team in the nation as well as the number one graduation rate. To attend a university that can balance and excel at both environments is truly special. We may not have won the game, but we definitely dominated the environment and tailgate. The echoes truly have awoken and I am excited to see the ramifications of the reunited Irish fan base.

Stay tuned for part II of the Florida adventures featuring the Notre Dame Men’s Lacrosse team, and their trip to Orlando.

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