American Catholics filling stands for Notre Dame-Navy game in Dublin
Published: August 30, 2012
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Jim Bolduc has two favorite pieces of college football memorabilia -- a Fighting Irish photo montage of its famed 1988 win over the University of Miami, and a football autographed by Navy quarterback and 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach. As a 1990 University of Notre Dame graduate and a U.S. Naval Academy football season ticket holder, Bolduc, a parishioner of St. Mary in Annapolis, planned to root for both teams as he watched them play in Ireland Sept. 1 for the Emerald Isle Classic. About 35,000 Americans were expected to be in the stands of Dublin's sold-out Aviva Stadium -- the largest ever influx of Americans to Ireland for a single event, according to reports. Among them will be Catholics who have deep allegiances to Notre Dame or Navy -- or, like Bolduc, both. Taking sides in the Notre Dame-Navy rivalry feels practically patriotic for some, and perhaps for good reason. The matchup is the longest continuous nonconference series in college football, with an annual game every year since 1927, including a previous Dublin-hosted game in 1996. The schools have an abiding respect for each other. When then all-male Notre Dame lost applicants to the World War II draft, Navy -- which had many men to train -- established an officer training school at Notre Dame's South Bend, Ind., campus, keeping Notre Dame financially afloat. The schools' history has engendered a robustly sportsmanlike atmosphere at their games, even during Notre Dame's 43-year winning streak, according to Jim Coolahan, a 1971 Notre Dame graduate and parishioner of Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City. Navy broke the streak in 2007 and won again in 2009 and 2010. Ken Goldman, who earned a master's degree in business administration at Notre Dame in 1976 and tries to attend a few games each year, said the atmosphere of the games is so collegial that "it's almost like playing football within your family in the backyard on a holiday," but it's "still a step above all the other rivalries that Notre Dame experiences."
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