Oct. 8, 2004
by Sarah E. Daly
Cherry Hill, NJ
Class of 2005
This past summer, I read in a Notre Dame Guidebook that the average Notre Dame Marching Band member will play “the greatest of all University fight songs” approximately 4,000 times per year. As I enter my fourth and final year at Notre Dame (having played the Victory March about 12,000 times – give or take a few), I look back to try to understand how and why this song, written so many years ago, can still bring a smile to my face and give me such a sense of pride.
Before I even began my Notre Dame career, the Victory March had echoed through my house on Saturdays during the fall. Like any good future Domer, I knew the fight song and danced ecstatically to it after the Irish scored (at the age of seven months, of course).
The summer before my freshman year, I think I played the Victory March more times than in my three years at Notre Dame so far. Not only was I preparing for my band audition, I was also experiencing some kind of disbelief that I might be a part of “America’s first [and best] University Marching Band.” As I played the song repeatedly, I never tired of it (though I think my mom did). The first time I played the fight song with the band, I’ll admit it…I cried.
So what about now? I still feel like I can remember every single time I have played the Victory March (though I might forget one or two). Every pep rally, every rehearsal, every march out, every touchdown…each one still holds a special place in my memory. (Perhaps that’s why I cannot memorize Spanish verbs.) Never, though, have I ever resented or grown tired of the Notre Dame Victory March. Each time I play it with the band, I am reminded of everything that it represents. In it, I can hear the laughter of my friends that I have made in Band that I will treasure all my life. I can hear the student section clapping to it during a football game, no matter what the score. I can hear Coach Willingham during a pep rally assuring us of victory.
Football season is upon us now. When you hear the Band playing the Victory March, you can think that the seniors are probably playing it for the 14,259th time. From the sidelines, though, I will be playing it and knowing that this simple song written by the Shea brothers almost a century ago will always represent everything that has made my time at Notre Dame special. It’s the legacy of those who came before us, the spirit of us now, and the hope of those who will follow us.
When I march out of the tunnel for the last time, after playing the Victory March for the 16,000th time, I will thank God for the opportunities He has given me and know that even though my time in Band is through, that song will still light up my face for years to come.