A Second Chance to Live a Dream

Play Like a Champion GlovesHave you ever wanted a second chance to achieve something you weren’t able to before?  Last week, one of my coworkers asked me what sat atop of my bucket list.  It only took me a second to answer the question.  Others said they would like to pitch in the MLB, spend a day with Jennifer Aniston, etc.  For me, though, there’s no question in my mind what I’d do:  I would love to throw some routes to Irish wide receivers on the historic Notre Dame football field.My reasoning for wanting this isn’t that simple, though.  When I was 9 months old, I had open heart surgery – transposition of the great vessels, to be exact.  Growing up as a little kid, I never thought twice about the surgery or about any possible restraints it would have on my life.  When I was little, I played baseball, basketball, and soccer, but my passion was always football.  Practically every day, I would get some of the neighborhood kids together to play two-hand touch in the backyard or would play my older brother in some one-on-one football.  Unfortunately because of my heart surgery, my parents were never too fond of the idea of me actually playing organized football.  They worried about me getting hit too hard or not being able to handle the physical exhaustion of the sport.  Add this with my doctor telling me I would never be able to lift weights due to the strain it would put on my heart, and my aspirations of being a football player were thrown out the window.

It’s frustrating to me because I always wondered what could have been.  I always had as good of an arm – if not better – than our quarterbacks growing up.  In high school, an assistant coach watched me play flag football in PE class and asked why I didn’t play football.  Now at age 27, I am left throwing routes to kids at the end of the work day.  Which leaves me wondering what it would be like to throw to some college receivers.

Growing up, I was always a Notre Dame fan.  I remember watching the great Irish victory over #1 Florida State followed by the tragic loss to Boston College.  Sitting in our basement as a kid, I remember holding my brothers hand much like the Notre Dame football players were in hopes that BC would miss their game-winning field goal.  However, my fandom of the Irish back then didn’t even compare to my love for ND after I went to my first game in 2005.  I watched the Irish defeat Tennessee, despite people saying they couldn’t compete with anyone in the SEC.  The game was great despite periods of rain, but the feeling on campus took the visit to a whole different level.  There was just something about the campus that felt…right.  Lou Holtz said it best:  “If you’ve been there, no explanation is needed.  If you haven’t, no explanation will suffice.

After that moment, I knew that I wanted Notre Dame to be a part of my life.  My dream is to work for the University someday, but I understand how slim the chances of that are.  Instead, I would love – just to spend five minutes if need be – to throw some routes on the field.

Between my passion for Notre Dame and the question of what I could have done on the football field, there is no other dream I’d put atop my bucket list.  Maybe I wouldn’t have ever been anything more than a bench warmer, or maybe with some coaching I could have played at the next level.  Unfortunately, I will never know.  But maybe some day – with some luck of the Irish – I could get a feel of what it’s like to Play Like a Champion Today and throw to some elite college receivers.  Until then, Go Irish!



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