Tim Kopp has lived his fantasy.


And if his health cooperates, he'll get to do it three more times over the next three years.

Sure, it's a little costly, but can you really put a price on a dream come true?

For Kopp, the answer is easy.

"It's been worth every penny," he said.

What is Kopp's fantasy? To play football for Notre Dame.

And while the 1965 Eastern York High School graduate won't actually suit up for the legendary Fighting Irish football team, he will do the next best thing -- he'll take part in the Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp from Wednesday, June 25, through Sunday, June 29, in South Bend, Ind.

The highlight of the camp, which is in its sixth year, is a 60-minute flag-football game in Notre Dame Stadium. The 5-10, 240-pound Kopp will be a lineman in that game, which will feature players from ages 24 to 72.

This will be the third time Kopp has attended the camp, making him a "junior." He can continue to attend the camp through his senior and fifth-year senior seasons.

And right now, Kopp has no plans to stop.

"I will go until my body says I can't," said
Kopp, who will turn 62 on Thursday.

He says the camp can be "physically challenging," especially for some of the older campers, but that each participant is allowed to move at his own pace.

So what drives a man in his early 60s to spend more than $5,000 annually on a fantasy camp?

"I always wanted to dress in that locker room and run out of that tunnel (at Notre Dame Stadium)," said Kopp, who attended Eastern before that school had a football program.


"I'm a hard-core Notre Dame fan and I've been a hard-core Notre Dame fan all my life. The opportunity to run out of that tunnel is just a dream come true. ... Words just can't describe it. It's just awesome."

Of course, the camp includes a lot more than just a flag football game. The campers also enjoy team meetings and practice sessions with the Notre Dame coaches, including head coach Charlie Weis. There's also a recruiting presentation, as well as various lunches and dinners. Some former Notre Dame players are also on hand. The campers also get various keepsakes, such as jerseys, helmets, medallions, rings, etc.

It's a full, fun and rewarding five days.

But the event is about more than flag-football games, meetings and dinners. It's also about making new friends who share a common passion -- Notre Dame football.

"The camaraderie with the other players is really special," Kopp said. "You build a lifelong connection with these guys. You e-mail them all the time."

Like the vast majority of the campers, Kopp didn't attend Notre Dame. But he said he got hooked on the Irish as a youngster.

"One Saturday afternoon, my grandfather had a little black-and-white TV and was watching college football," Kopp said. "Notre Dame was playing and ran out of the tunnel and there was just something special about them."

Kopp, who wasn't Catholic at the time, later married a Catholic girl and converted.

"I married into a Catholic family who were hard-core Notre Dame fans, and that suited me just fine," Kopp said.

Kopp, who coached junior high football locally for about a dozen years, recently moved to Alabama after spending his entire life in the Wrightsville-Columbia area. He was a partner in a heating, air conditioning and plumbing business in Lancaster County -- Frey Lutz -- but is now semi-retired.

Which gives him plenty of time to fulfill his Notre Dame fantasies.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or at 854-1575, ext. 455. Read his blog, "Chip Shots and Parting Shots," at the Blogzone at yorkdis patch.com.