ND Free Pass: Volleyball

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

No bikinis, no sunny skies, no sand. Already the Notre Dame volleyball team is at a disadvantage in terms of drawing spectators.

That’s a shame. Because even inside, the sport is fun to watch. Fast action. Strategic moves. And that fabulous new video scoreboard.

Oh, yes, the video scoreboard. You want some added excitement to games at the Purcell Pavilion at ND’s Joyce Center? You got it.

The new videotron offers four screens hanging from the center rafters at Purcell, so every spectator gets a direct view. And the people running it make good use of it, with replays and fan shots and player interviews. Even before Notre Dame took the floor to battle U. Conn in volleyball on Halloween, the Purcell Pavilion had an air of excitement. Maybe it was the flashy graphics on the video screens. Maybe it was the booming music.

Or maybe it was that plus the amazing giveaway the hundreds of fans got as they entered the Joyce Center — a free picture taken on the spot, and a frame for display. And let’s not forget the T-shirts being tossed to fans, with probably the best design I’ve seen so far in my attendance at non-revenue sports. A vertical green bar with “Irish” in white type running down the center of the bar, topped by a volleyball, to make the letter “I.” A nice freebie from Hyatt Place.

I wasn’t able to grab one. Nor did I get a mini-volleyball or a $75 gift card from Hammes Bookstore for winning a volleyball-serving contest or a gift card from Famous Dave’s or some other mysterious card that a guy in a witch’s hat passed out to a row of spectators.

Hmph. Obviously I need to train better for this fan experience, so at the very least I can score one of those cool T-shirts before some adorable 4-year-old gets his hands on it. You think I’d be nice and just hand it over? Hey, this is a competition, punk.

But all was not lost. I got to hear a beautiful version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Big Yellow Taxi, a ND men’s a cappella group. I got to see exciting play, although the ND women tried too hard in one game to turn victory into defeat when they let a 5-point lead evaporate.

And I got to watch the crowd jive to “Monster Mash” and “YMCA” and “Ghostbusters,” as well as favorite ND songs. I even got to see an older gent wearing angel wings walk around at a break and “bless” the audience.

It was all weird fun, appropriate for Halloween. And the ND women won, 3-1. Next year I’m going back to watch more. And I’m gonna get me one of those T-shirts.

Check out ND Free Pass for a sampling the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking. Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.