Another chapter from: The Clarkives
By: Dr. Len Clark, Ph.D
I love Notre Dame game days.
There is just something special about it, yet it is so subjective. Every Irish fan has their own routine or tradition regardless of their location.
My friend, Mark Boyle, in Ireland has his game day routine, although his is five hours or more later than most of us. His game day is either staying up pretty late or getting up very early, depending on how you look at it.
My game day routine has changed over the years. In 2012, I hosted “Gameday AM” on WSBT- AM/FM in South Bend with Tim Graul. What an amazing experience that was.
Over the past 10 years, my routine has been to start the day with a good cup of coffee and getting to Augie’s Locker Room early.
For those of you not familiar with “Augie’s”, imagine walking into a museum dedicated to all things Notre Dame, especially, football. Located just a couple of football fields distance from campus, it is a must stop place for many fans on game day and throughout the year.
Jim “Augie” Augustine, Larry LaCluyse, Kyle Augustine, and the rest of the gang serve as ambassadors welcoming fans, both Notre Dame and opposing team visitors, who have made the pilgrimage to South Bend to celebrate the playing of the game.
On game days you will often see “Rudy”, an undersized dog with a big heart who serves as the store’s mascot.
You never know what to expect or who you will see at Augie’s. You just know that you are among friends and feel welcome.
I enjoy talking to the fans and hearing their stories. Many are attending their first game and I tell them about the Notre Dame Football Heritage Project where we document the fan experience and support the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund.
I always ask them if Notre Dame is what they expected when they saw it for the first time. Their answers are always that it exceeded their expectations.
Sometimes a former player will show up at Augie’s, or be part of an autograph session that is held on occasion.
Last season Irish great Chris Zorich spent a few hours signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking to fans.
On that day I helped keep the event organized and had the chance to talk to many of the people who queued up and waited for their chance to meet Chris.
One person, from my home area, Portage, Indiana, was one of those who made up an excuse to head to South Bend on a Friday to meet him. His name is Chad Mollencupp and he happens to share the same February 11 birthday as Augie. As I was offering them birthday wishes just the other day, I got to thinking about a “game day” experience last season.
Chad is a “mountain” of a man and played high school football at North Manchester, just a couple hours away from the “Mecca of college football”. He also happened to play the same position as Chris Zorich.
I was entertained to see him so nervous waiting to meet the former Notre Dame All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame. I assured him that he would be “OK” and that Chris was just a regular person.
Not to Chad.
It was refreshing to learn that people still have heroes and this was his Chad’s moment to meet his and to shake his hand.
That’s what makes Augie’s special. It’s a place where memories are preserved and made.
Augie and I have brainstormed for many seasons about what we could do to not only enhance the game day experience for fans, but to also see what we could do in our quest to find the “Holy Grail” of Notre Dame relics.
One idea is something I tried many years ago when I was working in minor league baseball.
Here’s the idea.
Back them I called it “Baseball Roadshow”. Our goal, today, is to call it “Notre Dame Roadshow” a spinoff of the widely popular “Antiques Roadshow” program that airs on PBS.
We would love to partner with WNIT, the Michiana public television station, and encourage people to look into their attics and basements for their most treasured Notre Dame items.
Augie, Larry, Kyle, and other experts would then give an appraisal of the items and suggest how to preserve the item in addition to estimating its value.
Could it be something pre-Rockne? Maybe an autograph, picture, or recording? Perhaps you have something Notre Dame related that no one else has and that has been passed down through the generations.
Let us know what you think about the idea and if you have any connections to help make it a reality.
In the meantime, stop by Augie’s, as he’s always there. You’ll hear Rudy playing in the background, see the most comprehensive collection of football helmets and, maybe, even see a player or yours truly with a cup of coffee eager to hear your stories about Notre Dame.
Oh, and you can also wish Augie a happy belated birthday.