EDITOR’S NOTE: LaPortean Chuck Watterson, a communications major graduating this spring from Purdue North Central, had the opportunity to cover the Notre Dame-Alabama BCS Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2013. Here’s his story about the experience.
By Chuck Watterson
(Click on photos to enlarge)
The ultimate dream of a sports fan is to attend the championship game where their team has the opportunity to battle for the top spot. Every sport has its ultimate
championship showdown between its two best teams. In the college football realm, that stage is the BCS National Championship Game. I had this dream to see my team in the championship battle. My team is Notre Dame, and this year I was granted the opportunity to see them in the big game.
I received the chance to go down to beautiful Miami, Florida, to cover the National Championship Game. I intern for a radio station in South Bend and was invited to go along and cover the game.
The journey started off in a GMC Yukon in South Bend. We drove 21 straight hours, stopping only for food and restroom breaks. The temperature when we left: 16 degrees. The temperature when we reached our destination: 84 degrees!
Our hotel was the Harbor Beach Resort at the Marriott. Our room’s balcony view was on the ocean. The property was amazing. All media members covering the game stayed there. We saw the likes of ESPN, NBC, Fox and CBS. We also saw friends of ours from South Bend stations such as WSBT and WNDU.
The first day at the hotel, we were issued our game credentials. They allowed us access to everything — things I could not imagine. That night we experienced wonderful media access and delicious food. After a great night’s sleep, we woke up and headed to the shuttles.
The shuttles, five buses packed full of media from all over the country, took us to Sun Life Stadium. Once we arrived the security officers let us into the depths of the stadium. The tunnels we walked through were the same tunnels once occupied by great NFL players like Dan Marino, Walter Payton and Jerry Rice.
Four concrete steps led us onto the field. It was like walking into a movie scene. People were everywhere and the fields were being painted for the big game.
Alabama’s coach, Nick Saban, and players were the first people out for us to interview. There were no real guidelines for the interviewing, just a time limit. We scurried around and took pictures while Alabama was out on the field.
When Notre Dame came out onto the field, chills shot down my back. I felt so at home and it was amazing seeing my favorite team in person. I was able to ask them anything I wanted and just genuinely converse with my favorite players. I interviewed over 30 Irish players, including Kapron Lewis Moore, Zeke Motta, Everett Golson, Manti Te’o, Louis Nix III, and Dan Fox. The time flew by. I didn’t want to leave media day; I wanted to stay forever.
The next day I was walking through our hotel and ran right into “Johnny Football,” Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. He was on his way to a press conference that I was also attending. I asked him which team he thought would win. His reply was simple: “Roll Tide.”
Game day was incredibly exciting. I could not contain myself waiting for 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. I decided to spend the afternoon in the Atlantic Ocean waiting for kickoff. Once game time arrived I was very nervous and happy. I basked at the opportunity I had at my feet.
Even though Manziel’s prediction was correct and my Fighting Irish did not come out on top, I will never forget the time I had down in Miami living out my dream — to be a part of Notre Dame Athletics. When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to be throwing on a gold helmet and playing for the University of Notre Dame. This experience was probably as close as I will ever get, and I will cherish it forever. It was a remarkable experience.