Oh jeez, here we go. So I go to the University of Louisville. Big school, big in sports. Being a dance most of my life, my favorite sport to watch is dancing and cheerleading. Our dance and cheer teams are phenomenal and you should watch them sometime. But, Louisville is not my favorite team. In fact, Louisville is not my favorite team for any sport that I watch frequently enough to get a grasp of the basic concepts, (Here’s looking at you football and basketball). Being raised in a football household, where the game holds much importance in my father’s daily life. During my attendance at the school we have won several bowl games, and even the National Championship in basketball. But Louisville is still not my favorite team, why? Let me explain.
(This article is mainly about football. For dance purposes, look up UNLV, LSU, and Tennessee. All great programs. As far as cheer is concerned, Bama and UK are phenomenal. Even I can put my hatred for those teams aside the applaud their amazing cheer teams.)
I come from a football heritage. My Grandpa Hempel, played throughout his life, spending in a year in the pros, both the NFL and AFL. Not only did he grow up playing football his whole life, he played when the helmets were just leather (BAD ASS). He played for the Chicago Bears for the 1942 season, which is arguably one of the best teams of all time for the bears. They were undefeated, blowing through their rival the Packers, but ended the season in a loss in the championship to the RedSkins.
Then, if my Grandpa wasn’t already a bad ass, he then went off to fight in WWII as a Pt. Boat captain. Several years later, he had a stint, ironically enough, with an AFL in the city where my dad would grow up but not be born. Grandpa Hempel played for the Akron Bears, who ended up loosing to his own former team, the Chicago Bears, in 1946. So my Grandpa’s history, oh yeah I think it’s super cool. Even in the face of a sucky season I’m still a fan of Da Bears. Oh and my Grandpa has his own Wikipedia page as well as a profile on NFL.com, which I think is pretty cool.
My dad, won’t come out and talk about his football lineage. My dad played several sports his whole life (I won’t embarrass him by bringing out his middle school baseball picture). My dad played college football for Notre Dame for 3 years (technically 4, but during his time all freshman were red-shirted and didn’t play) including 1969, 1970, and 1971. Dad played Offensive and Defensive line, but is most known for being a kicker. Back then, kickers had to play more than just kicker, unlike today where teams recruit soccer players to kick.
Back then Dad kicked for well known quarterback Joe Theismann (if you don’t know him, you may remember the guy in the opening of “The Blind Side” who breaks his leg in the pros, that’s him) kicking many game winning field goals. During his time, they went to (and won) bowl games, traveled, and were one of the best teams in football. Since his time at Notre Dame, Dad tries to keep up with his past team mates. He’s a member of their monogram club, and has even traveled back recently to a game (in which Notre Dame beat Navy, as always) and tailgated with alumni. Dad often does the in the comfort of his own home, making the tailgate special “pineapple” shot taken before the game. Dad would have gone pro (he was considering his dad’s own teams, as well as their arch nemesis, The Greenbay Packers as Wisconsin was where my grandpa went to college as where my dad was born) but he was prone to getting injured.
He says “Of course you want your child to like what you like… I just don’t like to brag.” He’s not quiet sure what makes it so special that I also love Notre Dame, but I know he’s happy. Being raised by someone so invested in one team, instilled something in me young enough to keep with me for years. When being raised by parents who support a team, it’s just habit that I also, in tern, love that team. Seeing my dad explain how much he loved it (more or less what he says), and the love he still has for his team is something that I will always remember. “It’s an experience like nothing you’ve had and will always remember as something that was a life building experience… something you will always remember with great thoughts and life long friends.”
(go to the 8:00 mark to see my dad kick)
So it’s clear, much like my own organizations, you foster a love for it that will be around for your whole life. Moving around so much, and not being as a huge of a sports fan as I know my dad would’ve liked, soon I latched onto Notre Dame when I was old enough to want to learn. And at that time, I was just starting high school in Kentucky, and hadn’t latched onto a team. In Owensboro it’s UK or Die, so I decided that Notre Dame would be a great choice considering how football oriented our town was. Plus, the bragging rights were super cool. By the time I even was considering U of L as a school, I had Notre Dame engrained in my life for 16 years. It’s not me saying I like U of L, it’s that I was raised having a connection to another amazing school. I will always have a love for the school that my Dad also loved so much, as well as my own school. But when I have to pick…. Go Irish!!!