There are many advantages to growing up in California, including location and the weather.
There is also a storied tradition of great college football. I grew up a UCLA fan because my father had played there, and not liking USC, for the same reason. But as soon as the recruiting process started, I really came to like USC.
When it came down to it, Notre Dame and USC were my top two choices. It was really hard to choose between the two because both programs have great coaching staffs and I know almost everybody at USC. I grew up with many of their players or played against them throughout the years. In fact, five guys from my high school (Long Beach Poly) went to play for USC my junior year. It really made the decision tough, especially after last year’s game between USC and Notre Dame in which the Trojans won.
I really did not know anything about the rivalry between Notre Dame and USC before I came out here to visit in the spring of my junior year. I saw the shillelagh for the game (given to the winning school) and asked Rex Hogan (former football intern at Notre Dame) about it. He said it was one of the biggest rivalries in college football. When I visited USC, I asked them about the rivalry and they said the same thing. The fact these were my final two schools just blew my mind. The idea of this storied rivalry just added to the decision I had to make of whether I was going to play at Notre Dame or USC.
I had verbally committed to Notre Dame before last year’s game, but a lot of my friends were going to USC at that point. After everyone got over the initial shock of me choosing to come to Notre Dame, they are were very supportive and told me I was making the best decision for me in terms of the program, the coaching staff and the opportunities that Notre Dame would provide for me in the future.
Although it gets cold here a lot earlier than back home (I actually have had to wear a coat the past couple of weeks), I have never looked back on my decision to come to Notre Dame. In fact, it has been one of the best decisions of my life. Playing for Coach Willingham and the rest of the staff has been a great experience so far and I have learned a lot from them.
In California, playing football is just something you can do growing up, and watching college football on Saturdays is one of many things you can see on television. But here at Notre Dame, it is the THING TO WATCH and it is the SPORT TO PLAY. For me, making the choice about where to attend college and play football came down to respect for the game. In California, I feel football is not taken as seriously as it should be taken. Playing football at Notre Dame is something that is special and this part of the country respects the game of football and all that goes into it.
It’s the entire atmosphere in the Midwest and here at Notre Dame, which surrounds college football that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s really something special. When I came out here for my official visit we were playing Purdue. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in terms of the ambience that is a Notre Dame football Saturday. There is not even a comparison to be made between the West Coast and Notre Dame in terms of fan support and all of the traditions. College football is a part of life here that is unparalleled back home.
I committed immediately after my trip to South Bend. It really means a lot to me to be a part of that recruiting class and this year’s freshman class. We haven’t started in the best way when it comes to wins and losses, but we have all learned a lot both on and off the field. We have seen what is means to be a Notre Dame football player and how not only the school, but the city of South Bend and the entire nation cheers when we win and suffers when we lose. There is still a lot of football to be played this season and we are going to do all we can to make Notre Dame and the fans proud of our team in 2003.
It just comes down to respect for the game.
God Bless and Go Irish,
Freddie Parrish IV