Notre Dame fan keeps "miles of memories" with piece of wooden bench
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- First, he was a Notre Dame student.
“Every breath. Every moment. Every swear word that you can imagine. Every thought. Every Hail Mary. Every Our Father. It all took place for those few hours on the field,” said Dennis Heck.
Then he was a season ticket holder.
“So that seat, believe it or not, I’ve had flavored with my butt for over 30 plus years, and it was like a second home,” he said.
For Dennis Heck, all that glitters better remain blue and gold.
“History is very important to me. I don’t like people fooling with history in any way shape or form,” he said.
But when he got word that the house that Rocke built was being reworked, “When they said they were actually tearing the wood out, I was stunned. That was holy stuff you are touching their and that’s my stuff,” exclaimed Heck.
Heck has sat in that seat since 1976.
Much to his dismay at first, when it came time to re-design Notre Dame Stadium, new metal clad vinyl seats were going to replace the old redwood.
“One of the issues we’ve had with the redwood is that it deteriorates, its rough you end up with a lot of splinters in places you don’t want splinters. We wanted to repurpose it in as many ways as we possibly could,” said Brian Pracht.
It’s been a long time. Nearly a century since the house that Rockne built was built from the ground up. But 23 miles of benches were replaced just in the past year.
Pracht says half of the material has been repurposed within the stadium itself.
“In the new Duncan Student Center, Corbett Family Hall, around the concession stands, the restrooms. About half has been reclaimed for different purposes,” said Pracht.
And the other half?
“We sent five semi trailers full of wood down to Florida with our ecommerce partner Fanatics to inventory, to cut up the pieces for the individuals that will be purchasing them and then to get ready for a public consumption as well,” Pracht continued.
Dennis Heck said, “I got an email one day out of the blue saying we recognize you’ve been a part of this football family for a long time and we are going to give you a gift of your seat. And I thought it was a joke!”
Weeks later, a package arrived at his front door.
“When you look at this little chunk it has row, seat, section and it comes with a certificate of authenticity,” he said.
Heck placed his real estate in the most visible space he could think of.
“When I walk in, that’s second home again,” said Heck.
A final resting place for the seat that gave him miles of memories.
“To have somebody thoughtful enough to say this might really be important to people who have dedicated theirselves to this, that kind of blew me away. And I thought that’s great. That’s Notre Dame. That’s my Notre Dame. I get a little emotional about that. It felt very good, I felt very pleased with that,” said Heck.