By Josh Stowe ’01
Here on a south Caribbean island known for its warm climate and mix of cultures, Ed Badaracco ’66, ’68 M.S. and a handful of his closest buddies gather for their weekly fall ritual.
In their minds, if it’s Saturday, it’s time for Notre Dame football, even on Curacao.
“It’s a big party,” Badaracco said, describing how he and his friends share hosting duties throughout the season, rotating among a handful of houses on the island.
Badaracco himself has been watching live games with friends for almost three decades. He had a satellite dish installed in 1983, so he would see the Fighting Irish. Before that, following Notre Dame meant listening to radio broadcasts, scouring old copies of the Miami Herald for analysis, and watching recordings on VHS tapes.
For a while, Badaracco relied on a cousin in Arizona who would record games and mail the tapes to Miami, where his niece worked as a flight attendant. She would deliver them to Badaracco on Curacao when she had a chance. It took planning and patience, but the payoff was always worth it for Badaracco, who never missed a chance to see his alma mater play.
Badaracco’s fascination with the Fighting Irish began in high school. Although he grew up in Curacao and began his schooling there, his father decided he should finish his high school years at a Roman Catholic prep school in Pennsylvania.
There, he would often overhear fathers of fellow students breaking down the latest Notre Dame game. Over time, these conversations stoked his interest. And when he began considering college options, Notre Dame was the clear choice. After all, he had performed well in school, he wanted to get away from the East Coast, and he knew he needed a more disciplined environment.
“As a 17 year old, I needed that. I knew myself very well,” he said. “I had my eyes fixed on Notre Dame, so I went there. And I enjoyed it very much. I had a lot of fun — I loved it.”
After graduating and eventually returning to Curacao, Badaracco inevitably shared his love for Notre Dame with friends and neighbors. And it proved contagious. Ronald Irausquin ’83, who visited Badaracco’s house to play games of touch football as a teenager, became a big fan and eventually graduated from Notre Dame. He’s a regular member of the game watch group, as is his brother, Romulo, and son, Colin.
Other friends joined Badaracco over time. Some watched taped games with him, some joined him when he got a satellite dish, and the group kept growing. And Badaracco, who reads the South Bend Tribune online every day just to keep up with the latest Fighting Irish news, has never tired of talking about Notre Dame football to whoever will listen.
“We live on a small island,” he said. “You know a lot of people.”