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Passing on a love of sports

My dad took me to lots of games at Notre Dame. Later in middle and high school it became more about football than the other sports. But I have lots of fond memories of spending time with my dad at Notre Dame basketball, hockey, and football games. I even remember a couple baseball and soccer games along the way.

Even though no one in my family went to Notre Dame, we lived so close and experienced so much there, that I have a pretty strong connection to the campus. My friends and I rode bikes all over campus. (Don’t tell my mom!) We played hide-n-seek near the Grotto and skateboarded the trail around St. Joeseph’s Lake. We yelled and made echoes between the giant buildings and dared one another to go into the administration building. (aka Golden Dome) I spent hundreds of hours in the library (aka Touchdown Jesus) during my senior year of high school and still have 10-15 unpaid parking tickets for parking in the basketball coaches spot when he wasn’t there.

But most of my memories of Notre Dame are from Saturday’s in the Fall. My dad had a group of friends who put on epic tailgate parties. 75-100 people would hang out and party between 3 motor homes starting before dawn and going until dark. When I was really young we went to almost every game because you could always find a ticket for free or almost free. That changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Lou Holtz had them in National Championship form year after year. But I managed to find a way in to a lot of games in those days. My stepdad had a brother who was an usher who could sneak me in. I’d get to the stadium several hours before the kickoff and sit in his usher seat during the game. When it was too cold or I’d get bored I’d climb into the scoreboard and watch the game from that little window, listening to the TV cameramen shuffle their feet above my head as they operated the endzone camera. For a couple of years my stepmom was an MBA student and we had tickets at the front of the student section. During those years I got to go to the games it was too cold for my dad and stepmom to enjoy. Cemented in my memory for a lifetime is freezing my butt off and hunting for hot chocolate during the 1992 snow bowl.

San Diego State

There’s no comparing Notre Dame to San Diego State. Pretty much everything that could be different about the two schools is different. But what isn’t different is the proximity of where we live. I grew up about a mile from Notre Dame’s campus and my kids are growing up about a mile from San Diego State’s campus. So I want my kids to experience the campus. (Um, the positive sides of campus activities!) That’s why I’m commited to taking them to football and basketball games and other fun/educational things offered on campus for kids.

I’d love for my kids to build happy memories about a place with their dad. Just like my growing up around Notre Dame… every moment isn’t memorable and not everything is going to make a lasting impression.

What are you doing to build memories with your kids? What kinds of things did you do with your parents which built lasting memories? 

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2 Responses to Passing on a love of sports

  1. Julie Herrick November 6, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    When I was growing up my dad had a second job/hobby as a weekend ski instructor in the local mountains. This meant he could get family members in free.   

    At the ski area, I would sometimes tag along with his classes to demo each skill he was teaching, and then we’d ski together between classes.  As I got older, I was allowed to venture off on my own. (It was a very small ski area).  It became like a second home to me. 

    We built many memories on the mountain, and also on the 2-hour drives to get there.  One year we listened to the entire BBC broadcast of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (on audio cassettes recorded weekly from NPR, long before the days of audio books & iPods).  I attribute much of my geekdom to those drives with my Dad.

  2. Ben Patterson November 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    My wife and I aim for “family traditions” like popcorn Sundays, taking the family out for supper to celebrate teacher conferences, and baking Empty Tomb Cookies at Easter.

    Having these “traditions” will help our family cling together once we hit the natural rebellion of teenage years.

    We hope ;)

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