This is one of my favorite times of the year and not just because being outside is once again enjoyable thanks to the cooler weather and the kids are back in school. It is because fall marks the start of college football season.
I grew up in a house where Saturdays and vacations revolved around Notre Dame football. Our family vacations weren’t to Disney World, but South Bend, Ind., to watch Notre Dame football games. I’m not complaining, mind you, just stating a fact.
Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to pass on the tradition as my wife and I loaded our two little ones, ages seven and five, into the family truckster (think the Griswolds) and made the 11-hour trip (Google Maps didn’t take into account the fact that we had kids with us when it said it was nine hours) from Alexandria, Va., to South Bend for the kids’ first home Notre Dame football game.
It was wonderful to show the kids the campus and all the things that make it a special place to not just watch a football game, but experience a football weekend. Things such as multiple trips to the bookstore and seeing the likes of Dick Vitale and Ara Parseghian signing their books in the lobby; saying prayers at the Grotto and attending Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart; seeing famous landmarks such as the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus up close and personal; and running down the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium just as the players do.
But the thing that isn’t on any guide of must-sees is the one that I got a tremendous amount of joy from, and that was meeting Les Niedbalski, operations coordinator, parking/traffic, at the University of Notre Dame, and IPI member. One of the main reasons I have continued my career working for associations is our members–I enjoy working with, learning from, helping, and interacting with all of them.
With my family in tow, I stopped by Les’ office on Friday afternoon. We exchanged pleasantries, talked about the upcoming game, discussed how things have changed over the years including fields once used for parking that have grown buildings, and got to know each other. It was a great chance for me to meet a member face-to-face after many phone calls and emails, and for my children to meet the person in charge of parking. The highlight from the meeting was when Les gave me a Notre Dame Parking Services hat and made me an honorary member of his team. I wore the hat proudly the next day at the game, hoping someone would ask me a question about parking (or even try to complain) so I could help them.
Associations are all about community. I encourage you to take advantage of our parking community whenever you can by reaching out to parking professionals when you’re traveling or in your own town. And now, I need to take up the IPI members from the University of Alabama on their invitation to visit for a football game. Apparently, they think they do it right down there.