I grew up loving Notre Dame. Not only did I adore Fighting Irish athletics during my childhood, but I also loved being around the people who celebrate the university’s storied traditions, such as the Victory March, the Irish Jig and, my favorite, the Alma Mater. Though my parents (both Notre Dame alums) gave me the option of choosing another school, I always wanted to be a Domer. When I received my acceptance letter, it felt like a no-brainer — I was destined to join Notre Dame’s Class of 2013.
Despite all of this, there have been times when I’ve questioned whether I really fit in with the rest of the student body. Unlike some of my peers, I haven’t always been certain about my path. I am a finance major at one of the best business schools in the country, but I want to do more than crunch numbers. I have yet to find a post-graduation job, and I’m still trying to figure out where I want to be in five or ten years. My real ambitions (being a part of a great rock band?) seem different from those of my classmates. I’ve often asked myself, “Is all of this really for me?”
My fallback — which has overshadowed any doubts — has been cheering for the Irish. The stands have been my comfort zone; Irish games allow me to show everyone the real me. In football and especially basketball, I always show my support.
Attending ESPN’s College GameDay (“covered by State Farm,” I should add) in Purcell Pavilion last Saturday added another chapter to an amazing four years full of unforgettable moments.
I won’t lie, I was really pushing hard to be chosen for the State Farm Half-Court Challenge. Those who watched the entire College GameDay know what I’m talking about. Many people have asked how I was chosen to participate. The quick answer is that my obnoxious fandom was enough to get me noticed. A better way of putting it, however, is that I showed them the best of Casey Murdock. In my fanatic comfort zone, I was able to display the real me, which, thankfully, was enough for those at ESPN to give me the opportunity of a lifetime.
About 30 minutes before the big moment, I anxiously stood to the side of the GameDay set — trying to keep my mind off of what was coming. As I chatted with the people who were setting me up to be on camera, Irish basketball team forwards Joey Brooks and Tom Knight walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. They bent down to look me straight in the face, and both gave me words of encouragement, saying they were right there with me. It was pivotal moment for me – I had the team’s support, and we were (sort of) all in this together. That being said, I was still a bit anxious.
I won’t go into great detail about the actual shot (below); by now, I assume you all know how that played out.
The most incredible moment, though, was not the shot itself, or the big paycheck. While winning that huge sum of money is a fantastic blessing, it pales in comparison to what came next: almost instantly, Joey, Tom, and the rest of the basketball team (and basically the entire Purcell Pavilion crowd) started piling on me in celebration. Even though it was hot, sweaty and absolutely chaotic, it was the greatest feeling in the world. At that moment, I felt like part of a family. Everyone in the arena – my Notre Dame brothers and sisters – chose to celebrate not only for me, but with me.
Later, as I celebrated in a calmer manner with my closest friends, I honestly felt transformed. No, I’m not the smartest kid at school and, no, I do not have everything planned out ahead of me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t belong here. The Notre Dame community is more than all of that. It’s not just an academic institution, or a sports team, or even a stepping stone for the future. More than anything, the Notre Dame community is honestly a family. It’s a family that accepts me for exactly who I am. That feeling, without a doubt, was the greatest gift of all. For that, I could not possibly be more grateful.
Love thee Notre Dame.