By: Wells Dusenbury
Every Friday night in the fall, you'll find Bill Motta roaming the sidelines somewhere in the Treasure Coast, coaching up his St. Edward's football team.
Then every Saturday morning, you'll find him on a flight to some city across the country, sometimes even across the globe, to watch his son play football.
That's right. Bill Motta hasn't missed a single Notre Dame game since his son Zeke, a Vero Beach alum, first suited up for the Fighting Irish in 2009.
50 games. 50 flights. If Notre Dame is playing, you can guarantee Bill Motta is there in the crowd cheering on his son.
"It means so much to me for him to be there," says the Fighting Irish safety. "It's unbelievable. Just a blessing to have a father like that who supports me the way that he does."
The elder Motta has had the opportunity to personally witness his son, a 6'2'' 215 pound wrecking ball at free safety, transform into one of the nation's best defensive backs. Zeke has played in every game during his Notre Dame career and, this year, was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, handed out to the country's top defensive back.
"I love football and I love my son," says Bill, who served as Zeke's defensive coordinator at Vero Beach High School. "There's nothing I'd rather being doing than watching my son play football."
"It's a great combination."
Making every game would be difficult enough in its own right, even for someone with a Friday head start, but Motta does the trip every week in the fall, and to use a sports cliche, does it on short rest.
With his Pirates' squad playing under the Friday night lights every week, Motta has to make the quick turnaround on Saturday mornings from Vero Beach to South Bend, Indiana or wherever the Fighting Irish happen to be playing on the road.
"It took a lot of people and a lot of blessings," Bill points out, citing his family and assistant coaches' support in making his journeys a reality.
Motta's treks are no short distance either. The flight from Vero Beach to South Bend is roughly two hours.
And that's just for home games.
Since the Irish have no conference affiliation, their road travel schedule easily wracks up the frequent flyer miles. This year alone, Notre Dame has played games in Oklahoma, California, and even all the way across the pond in Dublin, Ireland, where the Irish made the seven-hour flight to take on Navy in a neutral-site game.
It seems only fitting that Zeke's last career game will be the easiest to attend. Notre Dame will square off against Alabama in the BCS National Championship game down in Miami Gardens, just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Vero Beach.
Needless to say, Bill is thrilled at the idea of watching his son suit up one final time in an Irish uniform in the most anticipated game of the year.
"That he can end his career where he was born in Miami and he can end his career in the biggest stage is a blessing," says Bill of his son.
"He's become the man every father would want to have in all areas."
For Zeke, it's a comforting moment, knowing that any time he looks into the crowd, his dad will be there rooting him on.
"He certainly is a proud father and I'm proud to say that he is my dad," beams Zeke.
While the Notre Dame senior's college career will end Monday night at Sun-Life Stadium, his playing days aren't necessarily over. Motta is expected to be selected in April's NFL Draft and could once again find himself strapping up the pads every weekend.
If Zeke makes it to the NFL, will Bill continue his tradition of checking out his son in action?
"I hope he's playing on Sundays and I hope to get to as many games as I can."
Bill adds with a laugh, "I better have a higher paying job."
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