View From A2

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brindockusa.JPG Rising junior setter Maggie Brindock is one of 48 athletes participating in this summer's USA Volleyball Women's National A2 Team Program.

Brindock's training began June 26 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, while the matches will be held June 30 to July 4 during the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships (GJNC) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

During the pre-tournament training session, the 48 athletes will be divided into four teams of 12 players that will play one match per day during the GJNC. All matches will be A2 competing against each other in a round-robin format followed by a semifinal and final round.

Brindock will be sharing her experiences with Irish UNDerground throughout the event ...

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July 4

Greetings Irish fans and Happy 4th! Well, my time in Columbus has now come to a close. This experience has been one that I will never forget. I will be able to take what I have learned and put it to great use for the Irish!

Today finished up the tournament. Last night, we went up against the Gold team and we had a hard loss in five games. It was a great match, with high intensity volleyball, but we just did not finish on top. With that said, we played today against team Blue. We fought hard, and we played well, but we ended short losing in five. We were always right there, with the opportunity to win, but it did not work out.

My time with the National A2 team has been so enjoyable! I have met many girls, and I know I will stay in touch with a couple of them. Those who were strangers to me when I started this camp are now good friends as I leave.

I have said each time that this entire opportunity has made me realize how truly blessed I am. The memories that I will take away from this will stay with me always. I know I improved my game with the ten days I have spent here, but most importantly, I had fun doing it! I smiled a lot and I enjoyed myself, on and off the court, and I know if I did that, this experience was totally worth it.

Now that my time playing with USA is over, for now, I am all about the Fighting Irish! Watch out, because NDVB 2012 is ready to take on anything that comes our way! We will be strong, I have no doubt.

Take care my Irish fans. Come support Notre Dame volleyball this year! Always remember, JUST BELIEVE, and GO IRISH!

There Are Over 360 Species of Sharks ...

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... but here are two of our favorites!

Armstrong Headed To U.S. Women's Open

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Sophomore Ashley Armstrong will spend her July 4th holiday preparing for the U.S. Women's Golf Open, which kicks off on Thursday at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.

The Flossmore, Ill., native was the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and will be among 26 amateurs and three golfers with Notre Dame connections, in the 156-player field.

If Ashley keeps playing as she has been, she may soon be signing many more autographs for people across the country, like the young fan in the photo above.

For much more on Armstrong, as well as her former teammate Becca Huffer ('12) and future teammate Lindsay Weaver (an incoming freshman), check out the press release on UND.com.

The Irish Remember Title IX

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This past Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, an educational amendment that changed the world. In part, Title IX states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...

Last week, several Notre Dame student-athletes reflected on the momentous act in a feature for ESPN.

Lax In The City - 6.28.12

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Emily (Notre Dame Lacrosse Shirt) and her siblings (from L-R): Ben, Andrew, Katie and Elise.

Notre Dame rising senior women's lacrosse player Emily Conner has a dream internship for a sports fan this summer, as she is interning with ESPN in New York City in its Marketing & Sales department. Within the department, the Alexandria, Va., native works on the asset management team in the consumer marketing solutions department. The 10-week internship will offer Conner a chance to explore the fourth biggest city in the world, while working for The Worldwide Leader In Sports. Conner graciously volunteered to keep a weekly blog for Irish UNDerground, which will offer a small glimpse into her busy life this summer. Here is the third entry in the summer series: Lax In The City.

"Her fever has gone down to 103 degrees, she can go to school." WHATTT?!?! As I heard those words come out of my father's mouth, I felt a strong desire to just melt right into my twin bed. There was no escaping it. No matter what, I was going to end up on that hour and a half ride down to Richmond, VA to play in my Field Hockey State semifinal game. The whole week I had been suffering from a 105° fever and had barely stepped foot out of bed. There was no point in protesting though. I knew it was my duty to my team to be there; even though it meant following the bus in my parent's car in order to avoid infecting the rest of the team. While both my parent's later admitted that I should not have gone to the game, I secretly knew whether they had forced me out of bed that morning or not, I would have been at that game. That is how I was raised; you do not quit, you commit - no matter how hard it may be at times.

From a young age, sports have consumed my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad coaching my five and under soccer team - the fact that he had the patience to do that makes me think he's a saint! Especially considering I always got in a fight with one boy who thought he was better than me - he wasn't.

As I got older, I started taking sports and especially lacrosse more seriously. This was mostly due to the influence of my brother Andrew, who was a lacrosse player himself. He was and still is my best friend, and I wanted to be just like him when we were growing up. My first lacrosse stick was his old stick that he tied so tight that it could be a girl's stick. I learned to catch, because he refused to teach me. Instead, it was a matter of survival. He threw it; I caught it or got out of the way quickly - he had an abnormally hard shot for a 12 year old. I even wore the #23 jersey because he did - and Michael Jordan.

Not only did he teach me lacrosse fundamentals, but he has also demonstrated for me how important it is to be committed to your team. I watched him suffer through countless injuries through high school and college only to play through the pain - very successfully I might add. At the time, I did not know I would have to deal with many of the same injuries as I continued my athletic career, but looking back and knowing that he played through it has encouraged me to do the same. Even when my doctor at home told me I needed to reconsider playing college lacrosse after my freshman season at Notre Dame - due to worsening back problems - I knew that was not an option. I had made a commitment to my team and I was unwilling to back out of it. This strong sense of commitment I learned from both my brother and my parents (who are going on 30 years of marriage...talk about commitment!). Famous Notre Dame football head coach, Lou Holtz once said:

"If you don't make a total commitment to whatever you're doing, then you start looking to bail out the first time the boat starts leaking," said Holtz. "It's tough enough getting that boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his life jacket on."

I think after years of watching my brother keep going no matter how physically and mentally worn down he got, has been inspiration enough for me to do the same.

Now I know college lacrosse ends for me in one short year. But I also know that the sense of teamwork and commitment that I have learned from both my family and competitive sports will help me in whatever I do. In most careers, teamwork becomes a daily commitment. At ESPN, it is no different. Each department is structured into several small teams that specialize in various aspects of the business. The 'Asset Management' team I'm working with is a group of four people, all different ages, all different skill sets. While the group is incredibly diverse, what makes the teamwork so well is that everyone is committed to each other and the "team" goal - To Serve Sports Fans. Anywhere. Anytime.

Saxer Does The Irish Proud

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For 2009 graduate Mary Saxer (@SaxDefyGravity), dreams of representing the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics came to a heartbreaking halt on Sunday in Eugene, Ore.

Saxer tied Lacy Janson for third place with a top mark of 14 feet, 9 inches, but missed out on qualifying for London based on the tiebreaker rules. (Janson had fewer missed attempts in the event.)

She is set as the team's alternate, so there is a small chance she could end up on the team, but more than likely, her hopes of wearing the red, white & blue on the sport's biggest stage will have to wait. Her next opportunity would be at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Be sure to check out Sam Borden's piece in the New York Times, which features a few quotes from Mary. The article focuses on the challenges that pole vaulters face while traveling.

...as well as Fighting Irish Digital Media's recent video on the Lancaster, N.Y. native:

- Josh Flynt ('11)

The Other "Mike and Mike"

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Angelic Angie

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Former volleyball standout Angie (Harris) Akers was featured on the cover of the latest edition of Volleyball Magazine. Follow Akers on Twitter (@AngieAkers) and check out her web site as she continues vying for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Women's Sand Volleyball Team to compete in the Summer Olympics.

Akers is married to former Notre Dame football player Jeremy Akers.

No. 89 On the List, No. 1 In Our Hearts

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4585894.jpeg SI.com has been rolling out its 100 most memorable U.S. Summer Olympic moments while building anticipation for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Former Irish fencer Mariel Zagunis was featured at No. 89 on the list behind the efforts of the first of two gold medals won by sabre during her pair of appearances.

Says SI.com ...

In 2004, Mariel Zagunis became the first American in 100 years to win Olympic fencing gold. Zagunis, the daughter of two former U.S. Olympians who didn't even originally qualify for the Games, defeated Chinese fencer Xue Tan in the finals 15-9 to capture gold.

Zagunis will headline an entourage of several current and former Notre Dame student-athletes with their eyes set on medals at the 2012 edition of the Olympics. UND.com will be providing an in-depth and up-close look at the Irish Olympians past and present in the following days.

There Is No Offseason

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