Road Games: Media Edition

Author: J.J. Post

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Every year, Notre Dame football plays about six games outside the friendly confines of South Bend, Indiana. When these Saturdays come, though, plenty more than the Irish traveling roster make the trek to the away stadium of the week.

Support staff and diehard fans alike join the mass of people who travel from northern Indiana to various college towns across the country (and sometimes, across the world). But few groups travel quite like student media do. Traveling to cover Notre Dame football as a student is a rare privilege. Between red-eye flights (or road trips) to fit budgets and classwork schedules, it’s a venture that often has a propensity for chaos.

Here are lessons and stories from three Notre Dame students who traversed the country for student newspaper, radio and television in the name of Irish football.

The one sentiment echoed by every student was to be flexible. More than one trip went awry over the fall for some reason or another. Sophomore Ryan Murphy was part of student-run radio station WVFI’s journey to Raleigh, North Carolina, this September that, thanks to over five flight delays and an overnight stay next to the Charlotte airport, barely even made it to the stadium.

"We finally got our broadcast equipment set up halfway through the first quarter, and then the game was delayed due to more thunderstorms,” said Murphy. “Our return flight to South Bend was scheduled for later that afternoon. Due to the delay, we were forced to leave at halftime to catch our flight. We watched only about a quarter-and-a-half of football at Carter-Finley Stadium. In fact, I watched more of the game at Raleigh-Durham airport waiting to go home… Oh, and I got very sick after coming back and ended up having to miss a week of class due to pneumonia. Thank you North Carolina State!”

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. While football games make up the staple of any trip, there’s also often the chance to explore new cities and campuses. The Aer Lingus College Football Classic season-opener in Dublin, Ireland, allowed students who made the trip to experience a new country — and it’s not a surprise everyone surveyed who made the trip rated it as their top travel experience.

“Dublin. No doubt. Not even close,” said WVFI’s Cesar Sanchez when asked which was his favorite trip. “It was incredible witnessing the sights and sounds of Dublin, particularly given it was bustling with Notre Dame and Navy fans — it was as if a South Bend game day had simply moved to ‘Notre Dame Street’ as they named it, in Dublin. We got to travel with the band and stay at Trinity College [Dublin], which was quite cool as well. All time memory, all time experience.”

Regardless of any Irish losses or travel hiccups, covering away games with student media is the opportunity of a lifetime. Why you might ask? The company you join on the trip is more important than the destination itself.

“It’s always about the people,” said junior media member Jacob Irons. “The people you go on these treks with make the stories and memories that much more fun. Never forget to enjoy the company you’re with and make the most out of the experience.”