Three Great Friends, Two Iconic Stadiums, One Epic Weekend

On a sunny September day in 2012, I stood outside the Bellamy building on FSU’s campus when I heard the news. I didn’t have a smartphone back then, but my friend checked his and shared the announcement.

“Notre Dame has agreed to join the ACC in all sports, except football. They will play five ACC teams a year, though,” he said.

That very hour, I swore I would attend the game in South Bend, which I later learned would not arrive until 2018, seemingly an eternity away at the time. Every few months for the past six years I periodically gushed enthusiastic anticipation to my friends—a fact, I suspect, they would be happy to validate.

For a sports-obsessed boy raised in a football-saturated state, few destinations enchanted me more than the set for one of the greatest sports movies ever made, Rudy. Combine that with the famous 1993 “Game of the Century” in South Bend and the idea of watching my school play in Notre Dame stadium proved irresistible.

Then life happened.

The descent down the 2014 mountaintop in Pasadena saw FSU’s ACC dominance dissipate and my bank account empty, after I moved to New York City and Jimbo went to College Station (about a season before it was official, too). Ticket prices soared while my dreams went crashing to the ground. After I got my job at LIU, the possibility returned, but the trip outlook remained bleak.

I’m one to overreact, so when I found out the Dolphins were playing in Lambeau the day after my Noles went to Notre Dame, I knew it was providential timing. Still, I wasn’t sure whether I could affordably make the trip. Through a remarkable financial blessing in the form of a freelance gig, the Lord provided ample funding. The final piece of the puzzle, and arguably the most important, was finding a partner-in-crime. As it turned out, I recruited a couple of the usual suspects and couldn’t be happier with the decision today.

They are two of my closest friends; very different men with some important similarities. For starters, they both can handle spending time with me over long periods of time. That immediately puts them in rarified air, as heavy doses of Zac Howard are not for the faint of heart. Second, they love football… enough said. Third, they both were raised right by old school, hard-working parents. Fourth, they love tobacco, cold beer, country music and this great nation, so we’ve been kindred spirits from the time we first met. Finally, they are both loyal and selfless friends who have put my interest above their own too many times to count.

Ben Peirce is one of the most fun-loving, easy-going good ole southern boys a body could ever hope to meet in this here life, I reckon. It astounds me how many wild memories we’ve made together, up to no good doing this or that, despite living in different towns the past eight years. That’s a testament to his loyalty and laid-back temperament. Ben’s down for whatever; never demanding, always accommodating, and forever my dog. I’ll raise a cold one to that.

Chad Reinhardt is my star-crossed best friend and twin brother in a past life. We both know how to cut loose and let loose, for better or worse, and are old souls constantly seeking to learn from great men of yesteryear. Chad’s taught me more about theology than just about anyone else in my life and boasts a reading retention matched by few. He listens with the best of ’em and speaks with the reticence and eloquence of a man forty years his senior.

This video (mostly) chronicles the extraordinarily mundane aspects of 600 miles on the open road over 48 hours, just to take a couple laps around some old football stadiums in sub-freezing temperatures. And to be honest I can’t think of a better form of tribute to my pals.

So here’s to you boys! I am so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to make this trip, but most of all thankful he brought you into my life. Go Noles and Fins Up!

Click for Epic Video 

Author: Zac Howard

Freelance Journalist based in NYC

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