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Basketball fans support both Missouri and Notre Dame

Monday, November 21, 2011 | 9:19 p.m. CST; updated 2:09 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 22, 2011

KANSAS CITY — Standing on the outer edge of the Missouri pep rally in Kansas City's Power and Light District and clad in green St. Patrick's Day attire, he didn't look like a Missouri fan. 

But he is, the other 364 days of the year.

Doug Callahan gives himself one day a year to cheer for a team other than the Tigers. The Missouri men's basketball team's game against Notre Dame seemed like the perfect opportunity.

"I'm an Irish Catholic, so I had a lot of friends and family that went to Notre Dame," Callahan said. 

His outfit consisted of a green button-up shirt, a black tie dotted with green shamrocks, a green vest with Irish flag and shamrock pins and a green hat.

Callahan is from Columbia and has season tickets to Missouri basketball games. For the game in Kansas City, he brought three friends with him. They tolerated his attire because he bought the tickets, he said, laughing.

Since he's a graduate of Georgetown, Missouri's game against Georgetown in Kansas City last year was his one-game exception.

"I only root against the Tigers one day a year. Last year was Georgetown, now this year, it's Notre Dame. Otherwise, I'm a big Tigers fan," Callahan said. "Just not tonight."

Fans like the Waris family from Lee's Summit chose to support both teams at the same time by wearing both teams' logos.

Tim Waris, a Missouri graduate, wore a navy Notre Dame sweatshirt and Missouri hat to the game. His son wore a Missouri jacket and a green Notre Dame hat.

"I've always loved Notre Dame, just being the good Catholic that I am," Waris said.

His uncle attended Notre Dame, and his father, who died four years ago, was also a big Notre Dame fan.

"This is a big game for us to come to in his memory," Waris said. "My heart will probably be more with Notre Dame tonight."

Blake Wisniewski of Columbia chose to support both teams, as well, by wearing a navy Notre Dame hoodie and Missouri hat.

He developed his love for Notre Dame growing up in Indiana. He lived in South Bend until he was in third grade, but after living in Columbia for the past five years, he's become a Tiger fan, too.

This game provided a rare opportunity for him to see the teams face off against each other. He saw the game on the schedule more than a year ago and knew he had to get tickets. 

"They never play each other,”" Wisniewski said. "I wanted to get tickets right away."

He's a sophomore at Hickman High School and said he hoped the game might last a little longer than usual so he could have a day off the next day.

"I'm just hoping for an overtime game because I don't want to get home too early," Wisniewski said. "That way I can just sleep in in the morning and don't have to go to school tomorrow."

For Vince Fitzgerald, being a Notre Dame fan runs in the family. He grew up in Kansas City but has been a Notre Dame fan for as long as he can remember.

"I was brainwashed from my dad growing up," he said with a laugh.

He remembers watching Notre Dame football highlights every Sunday after church with his family. For the game, he wore a gray Missouri hoodie and a Notre Dame hat.

"I was brought up a Notre Dame fan but always a Missouri fan, too, so I thought I'd wear both," Fitzgerald said. "I'm neutral. I'll be happy however it turns out."


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