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    Tuck Pens Children's Book

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    Former Irish football standout and Super Bowl ring bearer Justin Tuck recently released his first book, "Home-Field Advantage."

    The All-Pro has spent the last several days sharing the book with schoolchildren across New York. The book is based on Tuck's own childhood in Alabama, where he grew up with five older sisters.

    The Giants star discussed the book on "The Dan Patrick Show."

    "Growing up in rural Alabama I got a lot of stories that I felt would be both funny and in some ways educational to the demographic that I love the most, kids. Me and my wife are very passionate about kids and education. The book was a way of hopefully getting kids excited about reading. I love reading it to my son. Hopefully a lot of other parents out there will appreciate it and the kids will enjoy it and get a laugh out of it. Hopefully it's a turn on to get the kids starting reading."

    Tuck has read the book for schoolchildren as part of his R.U.S.H. For Literacy foundation. He and his wife, Lauran, founded the charity in 2008 to "read, understand, succeed and hope." They are committed to raising funds for books and other reading materials to support children in the New York City and Central Alabama communities.

    Karr Hired as Northern Michigan AD

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    Following in the footsteps of Bil Scholl '79 (Ball State), Tom Bowen '83 (Memphis) and Danny White '03 (Buffalo), former Irish hockey player Forrest Karr '99, became the fourth Notre Dame alum to be hired for a new athletic director position in the past six weeks, when Northern Michigan University named him to that post earlier today.

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    Karr will begin his new gig in the Upper Peninsula (or the "UP" as Michiganders call it) on June 11. The one-time Irish MVP and Academic All-American takes over the Wildcats athletic program after serving in the same role at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 2005. It's safe to say he should have no difficulty adjusting to the climate in Marquette.

    Said NMU President David Haynes regarding Karr's hire:

    Forrest Karr is a great fit to be NMU's athletic director. He comes into the position with outstanding leadership and management skills. He understands both NCAA Division I hockey and Division II intercollegiate programs, having been involved with both as a collegian and an administrator. He's been innovative and successful at UAF and has more than enough motivation and creativity to take Wildcat athletics to the next level of success. Forrest received tremendous support from all of the NMU groups that interacted with him during the interview process.

    Read more on Karr on the NMU website.

    Bowen, a theology and sociology major while at ND, was actually hired at Memphis on the same day Scholl was introduced in Muncie. The former San Jose State AD will also begin his new position next month.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    You Know You've Made It Big When ...

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    A clean-shaven Jeff Samardzija joined the list of pitchers who got starts on their own bobblehead days when he took the mound Tuesday against San Diego at Wrigley Field.

    Day 2 in Boston

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    Day two is in the books... and game time is less than 14 hours away. After arriving in Massachusetts on Thursday, the Irish moved one day closer to their NCAA semifinal matchup with #1 Loyola.

    On Friday morning, John Kemp, Kevin Randall and Sean Rogers accompanied Coach Kevin Corrigan on an early trip to Gillette Stadium, taking part in a video shoot and talking with ESPN's producer and commentators in preparation for tomorrow's broadcast.

    Afterwards, the rest of team and coaching staff arrived at the stadium and spent a few minutes soaking it all in down on the field where Tom Brady & Co. play on Sundays.

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    The Irish headed back to their locker room, normally used by the visiting MLS team (Gillette Stadium is also home to the New England Revolution) to prepare for practice. They had about an hour on the field - stretching, running through some drills, and finishing up with a team favorite game - Eliminator.

    Following practice, the Irish went to nearby Patriot Place, the shopping, dining and entertainment center adjacent to the stadium. The team hit up Tavolino's for box lunches, enjoying a variety of sandwiches, from crab cake to chicken parm.

    From there, it was back to the hotel to relax for a bit, before heading to a team dinner in north Boston, and then returning to the hotel for a final film session focused on Loyola.

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    Saturday's game begins at 2:30 pm ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2/ESPN3, featuring the broadcast team of Eamon McAnaney ('91), Quint Kessenich and Paul Carcaterra.

    Remember to like the Irish on Facebook and follow @NDlacrosse, @byrneirish and @fishtastik on Twitter for the latest as the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team goes after its first national championship.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish Arrive in Boston

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    For the third time in its history, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team is playing on Memorial Day weekend. With last Sunday's 12-10 victory over the defending champs and fifth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, the Irish earned a spot in the 2012 NCAA semifinals - along with Loyola (Md.), Duke and Maryland.

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    The Irish left from South Bend Regional Airport earlier this afternoon, chartering a flight that included the team, training staff, Fighting Irish Digital Media and media relations crews, coaches and their families.

    A clear day in South Bend was traded for a few clouds in Bedford, Mass., but nevertheless, a very nice spring day in New England. From the airport, it was off to Gillette Stadium for an NCAA banquet recognizing the four championship hopeful teams. A few of the Irish players were also part of a video shoot capturing footage to be used on the stadium's video board throughout the weekend.

    The barbecue style dinner included chicken, brisket and pulled pork, as well as green beans, corn, salad, among other foods. For dessert, it was apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I'm really not sure we could have asked for a more American menu as we approach this Memorial Day weekend.

    New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the keynote speaker and ESPN sportscaster Quint Kessenich emceed the event. McDaniels spoke about his experiences in the Super Bowl, explaining that winning championships is about the feeling players and coaches are able to enjoy on the field after the game, not the accolades, trophies and rings that accompany such victories.

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    Irish sophomore midfielder Ty Brenneman received the NCAA Elite 89 Award, recognizing his 3.782 GPA as a political science and economics major.

    Traffic was a little crazy, but I suppose that should come as no surprise, being that it's the start of a holiday weekend. Tomorrow, the Irish head back to Gillette for a team walkthrough and a few ESPN interviews.

    As the Irish inch closer to game day, stay tuned to Facebook.com/NDLacrosse (there are already many photos from today posted) and be sure to follow @ndlacrosse, @byrneirish and @fishtastik on Twitter for all the updates from Beantown.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Huffer Set to Make Pro Debut

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    It hasn't even been a week since Becca Huffer ('12) graduated from Notre Dame, but as Tom Kensler of The Denver Post writes, the industrial design major is already prepping for her professional golf debut:

    Becca Huffer left her college days behind this week when she packed up her belongings in South Bend, Ind., and made the 1,000-mile drive back home to Littleton.

    Now, the new Notre Dame graduate said she is ready to begin the next chapter of her life as a professional golfer. And, not surprisingly, she picked next week's HealthOne Colorado Women's Open for her pro debut.

    "I really like Green Valley Ranch," Huffer said of the state open.

    The tournament will be held May 30-June 1. Read more about the recent Irish grad in Kensler's feature on The Denver Post website.

    Hansbrough: An NBA Hopeful

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    As he watched his brother Tyler and the Indiana Pacers make a run at the Eastern Conference Finals, Ben Hansbrough ('11) thought back to his days playing basketball in the backyard.

    In a recent feature for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Colin Stephenson writes about Hansbrough's quest to join his brother in the NBA next season:

    Ben Hansbrough was one of 21 players invited by the Nets to take part in the minicamp, and it was his second time working out for the Nets. Last summer, the former Notre Dame point guard, who was the Big East player of the year as a senior in 2011, attended the Nets' workouts for rookies.

    The 6-3 Hansbrough, who averaged 18.4 points per game and shot 43.5 percent from 3-point range as a senior at Notre Dame, went undrafted last summer, and ended up playing in Germany and Slovenia. He said he was hampered by a bad ankle injury suffered during an individual workout in Indianapolis just before the NBA combine. He said he chipped a bone and tore two tendons in his left ankle.

    Read the rest of Stephenson's article on NJ.com.

    It's A Family Affair

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    The parents of the men's golf team gathered to watch their children at 2012 NCAA Golf Regional in Ann Arbor (L-R - John Platt, Bruce Scodro, Kim Scodro, Joe Moeller (Walker's Grandfather), Paul McNamara II, Cathy Usher, Colin Usher, Terry Walker and Sherri Walker)

    Aaron Horvath of the Notre Dame Media Relations department returns to the UNDerground blog with a unique look at last week's NCAA golf regional.

    When Father Sorin founded Our Lady's University in 1842, he did so using the ethos of achievement, community and sensibility. 170 years later, his vision still holds true. His vision of a close-knit community working as one towards a common goal is an afterthought in most industries today. Yet, in the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to see up-close and personal the way in which those around the University of Notre Dame breed the culture of community, faith and family.

    Haley Scott DeMaria, the University's 2012 commencement speaker said, "There are three things that have sustained me, that have carried me through my challenges and have rejoiced with me. My faith, my family and my friendships. While academically, three "Fs" wouldn't be celebrated; in life, they are to be embraced. Faith, Family and Friendship."

    These philosophies and teachings are no more evident than on the golf course with our men's golf program.

    As a casual fan of golf, you may only watch the 'Major' tournaments - The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA Championship - nonetheless in the game of golf there is a set of unwritten, old-school rules that have followed the hallowed game from its inception in the 15th century. Golf is one of the only sports or games in which you call penalties on yourself; in addition, golf also sets a different standard for etiquette while on the golf course. You can call me a detractor, but I always believed that when push comes to shove, competition comes before character on the playing field. Last week, while following the men's golf team at the NCAA regional in Ann Arbor, I was unequivocally proved wrong.

    Behind every great businessman, attorney, accountant, singer or athlete are their parents, and the members of the men's golf team are no different. Trudging around the hilly, 6,800-yard course I found that each Irish golfer had at least one parent with them providing encouragement and a friendly face behind the ropes. I fully expected the parents to be pulling for their own, but what happened as the round went on befuddled me, each parent truly cared about all the golfers as if they were their own.

    After starting the day in ninth place, after a day one 291, the Irish started moving up the leaderboard and were just a few strokes out of fifth place (the qualifying mark for entrance to the NCAA Championship) after completing the outward nine holes. But what was even bigger were the murmurs that started to spread round the course as senior Tom Usher made the turn at four-under par.

    Usher's parents, Colin and Cathy, made the trip all the way from Baildon, England to what ended up being their son's final collegiate tournament. The camaraderie between all the golf parents is one of the most unique relationships that you will ever get a chance to witness. The 12-member team allows each parent to get to know one another throughout the year; which is clearly evident when you are exposed to their community.

    "Look around you: your roommate, your classmate, perhaps your teammate or a professor." Stated DeMaria, "Think of how much you have learned from them. They have made you a better person, as you have made them. That is who we are at Notre Dame. As anyone who has experienced the student section in the Purcell Pavilion, Compton Family Arena or in the football stadium knows, our strongest trait is our community."

    Unlike the large, professional tournaments, at collegiate golf tournaments there are no large scoreboards behind greens, or video boards feeding hole-by-hole scoring to the groups. This requires a vast variety of communication from the parents to one another and to the golfers who want to know where their teammates stand.

    As Usher began his play on the inward nine holes, the chatter between parents grew even louder. His third shot on the par-five, 12th hole left him only a few feet for birdie. As the putt found the bottom of the cup, his parents, sister and fellow teammate Chris Walker's parents gave him congratulations. Not only did the teams' parents complement the great play of their kin, they also complemented their competitors on shots and helped find stray golf balls for anyone in the group throughout the round. Needless to say, I did not hear anyone's parents yelling, "Noonan!"

    It was not uncommon for me to glance at a parent and they give me a 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down' sign depending on how their son was playing. If a parents son was playing poorly, another parent would console them by saying something along the lines of "Don't worry, he has the game to get (the strokes) back."

    After the conclusion of their son's round, the parents don't just leave, they all watch the rest of the team finish out their round by the 18th green. The parents reunite at the end of the round by the final green when Notre Dame's top golfer, Max Scodro's parents join them as their son hits his approach shot into the green. There, the family's cheer on all the golfers, no matter what color their shirt is or what logo is emblazoned on their golf bag. For they truly know the meaning of proper sportsmanship.

    What shouldn't be lost in this story is the play of the parents' children - Usher's record-breaking 65, Scodro's seventh-place finish, Walker's aggressive style of play, Niall Platt's resiliency in shooting back-to-back 72's and Paul McNamara's surgical-like dissection of the golf course. Their hard work and dedication to the game gave them the ability to lead the Irish to their best finish in the event since its inception in 1989. But without the support of their teammates, their coaches, their parents and the Notre Dame community who knows how far this trail blazing group of student-athletes would have gone.

    With the loss of three seniors - Scodro, Walker and Usher - the Irish will need to rely on some new pieces next year in their attempt to go farther than their regional round exit in the NCAA Championship. In the words of Father Sorin, "we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever."

    The previous thousand words cannot encapsulate the true importance of feeling like you are in a true community of caring individuals. In my short period of time with them, the way I was treated by parents, players and coaches alike gave me the feeling that I was a part of something bigger than golf.

    Father Sorin's vision for a community of faith, family and friendships was a vision for his University that outlasted him and will outlast us. The platform in which the University wields is a great one, and the continued education and enrichment of the University to its students will ensure that their founders ideals will be bestowed upon the brightest minds of their generation through teachings from their professors, friends and most importantly, their parents.

    - Aaron Horvath

    Irish In The Sunshine State

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    Chuck Freeby ('86) and Coach Mik Aoki preview the BIG EAST tournament in Clearwater, Fla.

    Former Houston Astro and future MLB Hall of Famer Craig Biggio (father of Irish freshman Conor Biggio) catches up with UND.com.

    For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame took home the Home Run Derby title. It was David Casey in 2011, and Trey Mancini this season.

    Welcome to the Club

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    The alumni "club" that is... Congratulations goes out to Notre Dame softball seniors (from left) Alexa Maldonado, Kasey O'Connor, Kristina Wright and Dani Miller, who graduated this morning in a ceremony at Club Naimoli in the Purcell Pavilion.

    The four newest graduates in the class of 2012 missed Sunday's commencement ceremonies while their team was playing in the NCAA tournament regional in Tucson, Ariz.

    After their degrees were conferred, each of the student-athletes delivered a few heartfelt words to the audience, fighting back tears, but also adding some humor, while reflecting on all they have learned and thanking those who have helped them along the way.

    Chuck Lennon ('61), former executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Rev. Tom Doyle, C.S.C., Vice President for Student Affairs spoke at the event, along with Rev. Paul Doyle, C.S.C., rector of Dillon Hall and Monogram Club chaplain, who delivered the invocation and a final blessing.

    Much like the men's lacrosse ceremony I was able to attend on Saturday afternoon, this was a nice gesture recognizing all that the graduating student-athletes accomplished academically and athletically during their time at Notre Dame. While it was unfortunate that they did not get to participate in Sunday's events, being away from campus meant two things - their teams were still playing and their college athletic careers were still alive.

    I'm sure if you asked the twelve lacrosse and four softball student-athletes, a small graduation with the people closest to them - teammates, parents and coaches - was just as meaningful as the one they missed out in Notre Dame Stadium.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish Headed Back to the Final Four

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    For the second time in three years, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team has earned a spot in the national semifinals. In a game full of momentum swings, the Fighting Irish notched an exciting, 12-10 win over #5 Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park.

    Leading the way offensively was senior Max Pfeifer, who netted three goals and added one assist. Steve Murphy contributed a pair of scores, as well as two assists, while Sean Rogers also notched two goals.

    Notre Dame scored six goals in the final period, including one by Ryan Foley that put the Irish ahead for good. After three more scores gave them a 12-8 lead, the Irish survived two late Cavalier goals to pick up the victory.

    As Notre Dame athletics so often do, the game created a lot of buzz on Twitter. Here are a few of the many tweets from this afternoon:

    And even on graduation day, a couple Notre Dame football players had time to tweet about Irish lax.

    Notre Dame joins Loyola (Md.), Maryland and the winner of Duke vs. Colgate in the national semifinals, to be played on Saturday, May 26 at Gillette Stadium (the home of the New England Patriots) in Foxborough, Mass.

    There will be much more coverage coming soon, so be sure to follow @NDlacrosse on Twitter, 'like' the Irish on Facebook, and stay tuned to UND.com.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    At The Half: Irish Lead Cavaliers, 6-4

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    I'm no lacrosse expert, but after thirty minutes of play, I think one's going to come down to the wire at PPL Park in Philadelphia.

    #4 Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-1 lead in its NCAA quarterfinal matchup with #5 Virginia, before the Cavaliers responded with three straight goals. Virginia looked ready to take a 5-3 lead, but a goal was disallowed after a crease violation. A lot can happen in the second half, but if the Irish lead holds up, that may very well turn out to be the turning point in the contest.

    The Irish quickly responded with a goal of their own, tying the game at four and taking back momentum. They scored two additional goals in the second quarter to take a 6-4 halftime lead.

    First half goal scorers included Max Pfeifer (twice), Conor Doyle, Westy Hopkins, Sean Rogers and Steve Murphy. Pfeifer, Murphy, Jim Marlatt, and Tyler Kimball also added assists on three of those scores.

    If you can't catch the rest of the game on ESPNU/ESPN3, make sure to follow all the tweets at @NDlacrosse. Should be a great second half.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Graduation in the City of Brotherly Love

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    It was a busy second day for the Irish in Philadelphia. After breakfast at the team hotel, the team headed out to PPL Park, the home of the MLS's Philadelphia Union and the site of tomorrow's NCAA quarterfinal game against Virginia.

    The Irish spent about an hour on the field, stretching, going through a few drills, and talking strategy for their upcoming game against the fifth-seeded Cavaliers.

    After the walkthrough, the players signed autographs for those in attendance, including many young fans who had just finished a youth clinic outside the stadium.

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    The Irish returned to the locker room, grabbed lunch and showered, before it was off to Malvern Prep, an Augustinian Catholic school in nearby Malvern, Penn. Since they have often been on the road during commencement weekend, the Irish began a tradition of holding their own ceremony to honor the team' seniors over the past several years.

    This year, twelve seniors graduated at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel on the Malvern Prep campus. Rev. James R. Flynn, O.S.A., the Head of School, said Mass, with the help of three Malvern students (and future Domers) who served as altar servers and lectors.

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    The twelve Notre Dame lacrosse student-athletes in the class of 2012 include: Ben Ashenburg, Nick Beattie, Jake Brems, Devon Dobson, Andrew Gleason, Eric Keppeler, Max Pfeifer, Colt Power, Kevin Randall, Michael Rogers, Sean Rogers and Bobby Smith.

    At the end of Mass, head coach Kevin Corrigan said a few words and introduced John Delaney ('78), a Philadelphia assistant district attorney and the president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, to give the commencement address.

    Delaney spoke about four characteristics of the university - faith, vision, passion and family. He talked about Father Sorin's vision in founding Notre Dame, as well as the lifelong familial bond that the graduating Irish will not only have with their teammates, but with the university.

    The Irish also got a visit from Gene Corrigan, father of head coach Kevin Corrigan, a former Virginia lacrosse coach and the Notre Dame athletic director from 1981-87 (among many other accomplishments). Gene talked about all the senior class had accomplished over four years, and offered words of encouragement as they seek to finish off great careers by hopefully earning three more wins, beginning Sunday against the team he once called his own.

    To conclude the ceremony, Philip Pfeifer, a professor at Virginia's Darden School of Business and the father of Irish senior Max Pfeifer, officially declared the Irish seniors graduates of the University of Notre Dame. Professor Pfeifer served as a visiting professor in South Bend during this past year. Since the university's undergraduate ceremonies will be held tomorrow, the twelve Irish lacrosse student-athletes became a few of the first official graduates in the class of 2012.

    I had a chance to speak with Fr. Flynn after Mass and he was incredibly grateful to have been a part of Notre Dame's ceremony today, calling it a great honor for Malvern Prep to be associated with such a fine university. From my own perspective, I really thought the graduation was a nice way of recognizing the hard work and accomplishments - academically and athletically - of these young men over the past four years.

    It's too bad that they cannot participate in the regular commencement with the rest of their graduating class, but it's a double-edged sword. The fact that the Irish are missing graduation is a good thing - it means their season is still going on and their title hopes are still alive. Besides, it was an intimate celebration with the people with whom they are closest - their families and lacrosse brothers.

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    Max Pfeifer, Sean Rogers, Ben Ashenburg and Bobby Smith - four of the first graduates in the class of 2012.

    After parents had taken plenty of team graduation photos, the Irish left for downtown Philadelphia and a nice dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy. On the bus, we caught the end of the Spurs-Clippers game, before popping in 'Casino Royale' while stuck in traffic. When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted with a nice family-style meal in one of the banquet rooms. I'm not sure I've ever seen spaghetti, chicken parm, salad and bread disappear as quickly as it did tonight. In and out - twenty minutes max.

    From there, it was back to the hotel, where the Irish got in a final film session on Virginia. It's an early wake up call on Sunday. After Maryland and Loyola (Md.) punched their tickets to Foxborough, Mass. on Saturday, Notre Dame will look to become the third team with a spot in the Final Four. The game begins at noon ET and will be broadcast live on ESPNU/ESPN3. Remember to follow @NDlacrosse on Twitter for more photos and in-game during the rest of the trip.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    ND Lax Takes Over Philly

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    The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team left this afternoon for the City of Brotherly Love, in preparation for its NCAA quarterfinal matchup on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Fighting Irish traveled in style, chartering a flight from the South Bend Regional Airport.

    After traveling with football and men's basketball previously, this is my first trip with the lacrosse team. I occasionally covered the Irish for UNDerground during the season, but this is my first experience spending much time around the team and coaches. As intense and focused as they are on the field, they do not take themselves too seriously away from it (just wait until you see some of the defensive players' postseason haircuts).

    They're a fun bunch to be around and you can really tell that the lacrosse team is like one big family. Though I suppose that should come as no surprise, having a head coach who has led the program for almost a quarter-century.

    Upon arrival at the hotel, the Irish grabbed dinner, before watching film of Sunday's opponent, Virginia, the defending NCAA champion.

    It's a city famous for cheesesteaks, but Notre Dame opted for pasta, roast beef, stuffing, potatoes and green beans, among a variety of other delicious dishes this evening.

    Tomorrow, it's off to PPL Park for a walkthrough and autograph session. As you may know, it's commencement weekend at the University of Notre Dame. Since the Irish are generally on the road in NCAA tournament play, they have established their own graduation tradition. This year, they'll visit Malvern Prep for a special Mass and ceremony honoring the team's seniors, before a team dinner and more game film.

    For head coach Kevin Corrigan, Sunday will go beyond trying to take his team back to the Final Four. The longtime Irish head coach will also be leading his squad against his alma mater, Virginia, where he played and later served as an assistant coach.

    Much more coming throughout the weekend - Be sure to follow @NDlacrosse, @NDSportsBlogger, @byrneirish (assistant coach Gerry Byrne) and @fishtastik (assistant coach Brian Fisher) on Twitter, and 'like' the Irish on Facebook for all the updates from Philly.

    Catch the game Sunday at noon ET on ESPNU/ESPN3.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Holding His Own

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    Briana Coyne ('12) is a student worker in the Media Relations office. She recently profiled men's lacrosse goalie John Kemp, who is continuing his family's strong athletic legacy.

    Lacrosse, baseball, soccer, football, hockey - name the sport and John Kemp, a junior goalie on the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team, probably played it at some point during his childhood. This comes as no surprise considering he grew up in a household with six older brothers and sisters who all played sports, as well.

    "Sports were just a big thing in my family," says Kemp. "We always had a 15-seater van and my Mom would drive everyone around. I literally was in the car for six hours a day picking everyone up and going to practices. I would miss practices for other practices."

    With so many practices, scrimmages and games to take all seven of the Kemp children to, it is hard to imagine how the parents were able to juggle all these schedules, but they managed. However, on rare occasions, there were mishaps.

    "When we were growing up, there would always be that one time my Mom would forget about someone so we would be left at practice for like two hours," jokes Kemp.

    Regardless, the Potomac, Md., native and his siblings continued competing and excelling in sports as they got older.

    The athletic achievements of the Kemp family are numerous: Robbie played baseball in high school and was named all-conference; Julie swam for the University of Miami (FL) and qualified for the NCAA Championships in 1999; CJ played lacrosse at Fairfield University and then professionally for the Rochester Rattlers and the Baltimore Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse (MLL); Erin swam for Towson University; Joey, a 2008 Notre Dame graduate and former goalie, was named the 2007 Great Western Lacrosse League Player of the Year and currently plays in the MLL for the Chesapeake Bayhawks after previously playing for the Los Angeles Riptide and Chicago Machine; Elizabeth swam for the University of Florida, was a six-time all-Southeastern Conference selection, and competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials; and John is the starting goalie for the Fighting Irish. If all of those honors were not enough, Julie, CJ, Joey, Liz and John have all been named All-America in their respective sports.

    For one family to have so much athletic talent is remarkable, but the Kemp children are not the only athletes in the family. Their father, Robert, played football under Lou Holtz at William & Mary.

    "My Dad has some really funny stories about him (Lou Holtz)," says Kemp. "He does a really good impression of him with his voice."

    Kemp, who started playing lacrosse at the age of seven, said going to so many practices was hard to adjust to in the beginning, but he soon realized the relationships he gained with teammates and coaches were definitely worth it. Also, being in this athletic atmosphere with his siblings helped Kemp with his own game.

    "When you are around sports all the time you think about the game from a young age," says Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. "You recognize what works and what doesn't work. There is no question that John has benefited from the experience of all his brothers and sisters."

    When Kemp was younger, he learned the most from his siblings through observation - seeing his sisters' diligence in getting up at four in the morning for swimming, watching his brothers play on the field, and attending everyone's games.

    "Seeing the success they had really helped me," states Kemp.

    Not only was Kemp excelling in the same sport as two of his older brothers, he also was playing the same position. With so many similarities, it is hard not to feel the pressure of following in their footsteps, but that did not faze Kemp.

    "I think it makes it easier for me, but it also makes it harder," comments Kemp. "Obviously there is a lot to live up to, but it is also something to keep in mind because they have been through it and makes it feel like it is possible for me."

    In his sophomore year at Georgetown Prep, Kemp committed to play for the Irish, where his brother, Joey, was the goalie at the time. Because of the quality of education and his brother's experience at the school, Kemp felt Notre Dame was the obvious choice.

    "Joey absolutely loved it here," says the younger Kemp. "I always joke around that we have had the same teachers, and he brings up stories about them."

    Since they both played goalie for the Irish, it is hard not to draw comparisons. According to Corrigan, both John and Joey have very similar approaches to their position.

    "If you were to look at them from 100 yards away and watch them in the goal and watch their mannerisms - the way they move and even their footwork - it is scary sometimes how much they look alike," states Corrigan.

    It is not only John and Joey's on-the-field play that is comparable, but also their mental attitude towards the game that has helped them thrive.

    "The qualities that most distinguish them are their mental toughness and their ability to keep an even keel and perform at a high level on a consistent basis. They just never get rattled. They are never thrown off their game," adds Corrigan.

    With having two older brothers play professionally, Kemp gets plenty of feedback on his performance.

    "If John has a bad game, the first guys he hears from are his brothers," says Corrigan.

    "They watch my games and tell me what I did wrong," says Kemp. "During our Duke game last year, Joey sent me an email after the first quarter telling me what I was doing wrong. I saw it at halftime and made adjustments."

    With the support of his family as well as his own commitment to the sport, Kemp has had a very accomplished career thus far at Notre Dame. He recently was named the 2012 BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year and was one of 25 nominees up for the Tewaaraton Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top lacrosse player. Kemp currently ranks first nationally in both goals-against average (5.95) and save percentage (.641).

    For Kemp, his personal statistics are secondary to those of the team. His focus is solely on how he is contributing to the team's efforts and success.

    "I don't like to think of personal goals because I really don't care about personal goals," states Kemp. "It just matters what the team does."

    His leadership and stability are qualities that his teammates rely on, especially in tough situations.

    "He just comes in quietly and does his job," says Corrigan. "I think the guys count on that no matter what is going on. If things are going well or not, John is going to be the same guy, and they can look back, trust him and count on him to be 'that' guy."

    Even with all the success he has had, Kemp does not forget to give credit to his parents for their encouragement and dedication.

    "I think it is true for me and all of my siblings that we consider our parents our role models. With their dedication in taking us to practices and sending us all to private schools, they have had to give up a lot for us."

    Having so much athletic achievement in one family seems almost unfathomable, but the honors and accolades do not lie. And for the youngest Kemp child, he keeps adding to the incredible legacy.

    - Briana Coyne ('12)

    Chuck In the Armor - Connecticut Preview

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    Chuck Freeby is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and the voice of Fighting Irish baseball on Harvest Radio (WHME 103.1 FM) and UND.com. He returns to Irish UNDerground with the latest 'Chuck in the Armor' post, previewing this weekend's series with Connecticut.

    For the first time in three years, the Irish enter the final weekend of the regular season not worried about qualifying for the BIG EAST tournament.  That doesn't mean there isn't a reason to show up at Connecticut this weekend.

    There are a lot of permutations that affect the BIG EAST standings, but everyone will be best served by keeping it simple. If Notre Dame can win this series against Connecticut, chances are the Irish finish no worse than fifth in the BIG EAST.  That would surpass the preseason expectations of the league, give Notre Dame 30 wins and make it three straight series wins entering next week's conference tournament.

    Tuesday night after the win against Northwestern, Mik Aoki told some of us that he believes the pitching duo of Will Hudgins and Pat Connaughton can have Notre Dame competitive with any team in the country. He believes Adam Norton can beat any team's #3 starter.  He's pleased with the development of Sean Fitzgerald and Steve Sabatino as "long relievers".  Then Aoki put the caveat on the deal..."as long as we play clean defense."

    It's not a news flash to anyone who has followed this team all year. Sometimes, the Irish make errors the way people eat potato chips...one just leads to another and another.  As Mik explained on one of the pregame shows last week, it's a matter of looking at mistakes as new opportunities to pick up a teammate...to make the kind of play that bolsters the team. Instead, many times, the body language has been that of "here we go again".

    When Notre Dame can avoid that pitfall...when they make one error or none, the Irish are 24-8 this year.  Think about it...a team with 19 freshmen and sophomores...and one that had to replace its entire starting staff at the beginning of the year...still wins 75 percent of the game when they play good defense.  That's pretty darn good.

    Is that good enough to get past Connecticut?  The big names like George Springer and Matt Barnes are gone, but UConn still has talent. Second baseman L.J. Mazzilli is likely to be a top-three round draft pick.  Speedster Billy Ferriter leads the team with a .340 average and 22 stolen bases.  And when you look at the earned run averages of the Connecticut pitchers, they're very comparable with Notre Dame.  So what is UConn's Achilles heel?  The same as the Irish...the heel of the glove.

    Connecticut has made 91 errors...13 more than the Irish.   The Huskies are 13-6 when they make one error or less...which also means they've had 32 games where they have made two or more.  So, the Huskie faithful are saying the same thing..."if we can only play clean".

    Normally, when you go into a tough battle, the phrase used is "it's time to take the gloves off". This weekend, it's time to make sure they're on and used properly.

    Chuck Freeby '86

    Irish Advance To NCAA Quarterfinals

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    It's not every game that a 'turning point' comes before the halftime whistle, but in Notre Dame's 13-7 win over Yale, it was a first half goal that sealed the Bulldogs fate.

    After clawing back into the game from a 4-0 deficit, Yale looked poised to tie the NCAA tournament first round matchup at five, until the Irish forced a turnover late in the first half. Westy Hopkins was knocked down, but managed to get the ball to Max Pfeifer, who found Sean Rogers for an incredible goal with 7.5 seconds left in the second quarter.

    That was the first of five straight goals for head coach Kevin Corrigan's team, which got scores from nine different players, matching a season-high. Jim Marlatt notched his second career hat trick, while Rogers and Conor Doyle added two goals apiece to lead the offensive attack.

    LaxYale.jpg

    The Irish will play the defending champions, #5 seed Virginia in next Sunday's quarterfinals at PPL Park in Philadelphia. That game begins at noon ET and will be televised on ESPNU.

    One down, three to go in the quest for a national title. Much more coming on the Fighting Irish right here on UND.com.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Scodro, Kubinski Earn BIG EAST Honors

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    Yesterday, the Notre Dame men's golf team picked up a pair of BIG EAST conference honors for the second consecutive season. Senior Max Scodro was named Player of the Year and head coach Jim Kubinski claimed Coach of the Year.

    In addition, senior Chris Walker, junior Paul McNamara III and sophomore Niall Platt joined Scodro on the 14-player all-BIG EAST team.

    Keep an eye on the Irish next week at Golfstat.com. They will head to Michigan where they will begin NCAA tournament play in the Ann Arbor region on Thursday, May 17. But first, check out the latest "Student. Athlete. Irish." feature, and get to know more about Scodro off the course.

    A Two-Sport Standout: Brittany Mallory

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    Check out this great feature on graduate student and two-sport star Brittany Mallory, courtesy of the Fighting Irish Digital Media student crew. Better known for her time on the basketball court, Mallory is also making a big impact on the field for the 13-4 Notre Dame women's lacrosse team.

    After you watch the video, there's also a nice article from Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune as Mallory and her lacrosse teammates prepare to take on defending champion Northwestern in a first round NCAA matchup on Saturday at 4 pm ET.

    Here's an excerpt from the story. Hersh writes,

    The idea of trying lacrosse again developed out of a lighthearted exchange in August between Mallory and first-year Irish lacrosse coach Christine Halfpenny.

    "She was joking around, saying when you get finished with basketball, come pick up a stick," Mallory said. "Then it happened, and it's pretty shocking."

    Halfpenny asked her players to sign off on asking Mallory to join the team before the two met five days after the basketball title game. Six days later, Mallory made her first of five appearances in the team's last six games.

    For more on tomorrow's big game, visit UND.com. Tune in at 4 pm ET on the Big Ten Digital Network or listen to Northwestern's radio broadcast to follow the Irish in Evanston.
    Earlier today, Danny White ('02) was named the new Director of Athletics at the University of Buffalo. White, the son of former Notre Dame AD Kevin White, played basketball for the Irish after transferring from Towson following his sophomore year. A graduate of the Mendoza College of Business with a bachelor's degree in business administration, White currently serves as senior associate athletics director at the University of Mississippi.

    Here's a snippet from UB's on the latest addition to the Bulls' team:

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    A rising star in intercollegiate athletics, the former Notre Dame basketball player and New Orleans native has quickly ascended the ranks of college athletics leadership.

    His many accomplishments include notable success in raising funds for programs at major universities, including the University of Mississippi and California State University, Fresno, and coaching and serving as an administrator at Mid-American Conference members Ohio University and Northern Illinois University. At Ohio, he helped lead the men's basketball team to a Mid-American Conference championship victory and an NCAA tournament berth.

    Visit Buffalo's website for more on Danny's new opportunity. You can also follow him on Twitter at @UBDannyWhite.

    Caption Contest

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    ice.jpg

    Compton Family Ice Arena ... now available with a retractable roof!

    Chuck In the Armor - Villanova Preview

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    Chuck Freeby is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and the voice of Fighting Irish baseball on Harvest Radio (WHME 103.1 FM) and UND.com. He returns to Irish UNDerground with the latest 'Chuck in the Armor' post, previewing this weekend's series with Villanova.

    Sitting at 4-5 after back-to-back losses to Ohio and Michigan State, Jake Kline probably didn't expect his Notre Dame squad to go the College World Series in 1957 any more than Mik Aoki expects to go to Omaha in 2012.

    But Jake's Irish did...and the 2012 Irish still could reach an NCAA regional and compete for an opportunity.

    As you read this, you're probably saying, "now I know why Freeby didn't make the road trip...they locked him up." Look, I know a CWS trip seems absurd to think about after Wednesday night's loss to Valparaiso. The Irish were outplayed in every facet of the game by the Crusaders, leaving them at 23-21 for the season.

    But the goal is still possible. First things first, the Irish have to qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament. You don't want to take that for granted, and that's why this weekend's games at Villanova are important, because they can help solidify position in case Georgetown or Pittsburgh gets hot.

    So let's say the Irish make the BIG EAST tournament. Let's see a show of hands from the teams who really want to face Irish ace Will Hudgins in the opening game. Not many hands going up there. The "Richmond Rifle" has posted a phenomenal 2.22 ERA this season. He can beat anybody in the league. Get that win, and you might go with Pat Connaughton, as the freshman should be in peak form by then and has pitched well his last two outings. Sean Fitzgerald has had some great bullpen outings and Dan Slania leads the league in saves.

    Now ask yourself this...does anyone have a better 3-4-5 in the league than Eric Jagielo, Trey Mancini and Joe Hudson? Yes, they had a dismal weekend against St. John's, but hitting is a contagious thing. When one guy gets cold, it seems to spread. When one gets hot, all three seem to swing it well. Hudson's three hits on Wednesday could be a harbinger. And Louisville is the only other team in the league besides Notre Dame that has five regulars batting above .300.

    My point is...this is a team that is still capable of winning the BIG EAST tournament. Of the nine Notre Dame BIG EAST losses, seven are by two runs or less. And if you can win the BIG EAST, you make the NCAA Tournament. And if you make the tournament, you've got a shot at Omaha. Ask Fresno State, who lost 31 games the year they won the national championship. Ask the 1957 Irish.

    Ask Senator John Blutarsky.

    "Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck, no! And it ain't over now! Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

    Who's with me?

    - Chuck Freeby '86

    Hanging By A Moment

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    Following a particular college or university is a pastime for all sports fans as they go through their stages of adolescence. Whether it be where their parents went, where they live or just an obsession with a particular team for no apparent reason, all fans share random, common bonds with people who may be miles away.

    As a child I grew up watching the 'Old Ball Coach' roam the sidelines for the Florida Gators (dad's alma mater), Tom Coverdale run the point for the Indiana Hoosiers (childhood team) and Autry Denson and Jarious Jackson run the option for the Irish (location). As I got older, the times and games I remembered turned in to moments in which to this day I have not forgotten.

    Moments are what make us as sports fans keep coming back for more, albeit there were just over 28,000 paying customers in attendance at Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle's perfect game in 2009, as time goes by there will be 100,000 people claiming they were at Comiskey Park (I have and always will call it by this name) that day. I am not a fan of this particular Chicago area sports team, yet I will always remember where I was and whom I was with when this great moment took place.

    I have many great and historic moments that I remember from the past 20-some years I have been a fan of Notre Dame. I have recollections that I would rather forget (Jackson's safety against LSU in 1998 in which he hurt his ankle and was out the following week) and those in which I wish I could relive over and over (Notre Dame women's basketball team taking down #1 UConn in 2001 at the Joyce en route to the program's first NCAA title). For both of those games, I remember where I was (Jackson's injury - celebrating Thanksgiving in Indianapolis, women's basketball vs. UConn - at game behind basket in first row).

    This past athletic season had a fair share of 'Notre Dame Moments' in which I was able to witness; here are my top five ...

    5. Frank Dyer, The All-American Guy
    NCAA Men's Swimming Championships
    March 24, 2012

    In the 53 years of men's swimming at Notre Dame, the Irish have accomplished a lot - five BIG EAST Championships, five BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors and over 50 all-BIG EAST honorees - yet they had never had any swimmer garner national All-American recognition, until Frank Dyer's swim in Federal Way, Wash., this past season.

    Dyer had been training all year long for the opportunity to make his mark in Notre Dame swimming lore. On a Friday evening in late March, he got his opportunity. As he stepped upon the blocks in the 200 freestyle finals, Dyer had the weight of the entire program on his back and he didn't disappoint.

    The gun went off and just one minute and 34 seconds later, Notre Dame had its first All-American, Frank Dyer.

    4. Freeby Calls Bull's Shot
    Baseball vs. Pittsburgh
    March 23, 2012

    It may not have been George Herman Ruth calling his shot or even Jake Taylor, but Notre Dame baseball radio announcer Chuck Freeby opined between innings on the broadcast that the Irish would defeat the Panthers in the bottom half of the ninth inning on a home run from freshman Ryan Bull.

    What happened next was truly amazing as Bull hit his first career home run at the exact time in which Freeby 'called it.'

    3. Squeezing The Orange
    Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse
    January 21, 2012

    On a cold January day, the Irish, with a record of 11-8, welcomed the undefeated Syracuse Orange into Purcell Pavilion for a BIG EAST conference clash. As the game wore on, Notre Dame played more like the Harlem Globetrotters to Syracuse's Washington Generals.

    Building a lead as big as 18 points, the Irish went on to win 67-58 in front of a sold-out crowd. This was the eighth time that the men's basketball program had knocked off the top-ranked team in the AP poll in its history.

    2. Big Shot Britt
    Women's Basketball vs. Connecticut
    April 1, 2012

    In the fourth meeting on the season between the two squads, the teams went back and forth throughout much of the game.

    The Irish squandered a five-point lead late to find themselves down two with just under-10 seconds to play when Skylar Diggins drove the length of the court and put up a runner in the lane, the attempt would miss and fall in the hands of senior Natalie Novosel. After gathering the rebound, Novosel put the ball up on a reverse lay-up, to see the ball drop with just a few seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

    The Irish found themselves down, three, early in overtime. That's when senior Brittany Mallory, who was shooting 1-11 in NCAA Championship play prior, was found in the corner for an open three, which she calmly drained.

    After a rebound on the defensive end, Diggins quickly pushed the ball up the court and again found Mallory on the wing for another trey. The clutch play from their scrappy, sharpshooting senior would catapult the Irish to their second NCAA Championship game in as many years.

    1. The Dedication Game (Holy War on Ice)
    Hockey vs. Boston College
    November 18, 2011

    Taking part on the Friday night before their respective football teams clashed in the 'Holy War' on the gridiron, the hockey squads took to the ice for the 'Dedication Game' of the 50-million dollar Compton Family Ice Arena.

    The sold-out crowd of 5,022 was treated to one of my favorite moments of my time at Notre Dame as the longtime tenor for the Chicago Blackhawks, Jim Cornelison (an Indiana University graduate), bellowed the National Anthem and kicked off a night full of moments.

    This 'Notre Dame Moment' looked like something right out of the third Mighty Ducks when Bryan Rust capped off the game with a sudden-death victory goal with just 1.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Irish the 3-2 win.


    These are just a few of the great Irish athletics moments from the past year. Every particular moment has its key players - Ryan Bull, Brittany Mallory, Frank Dyer - but the big question in sports has always been, "how will history remember you?" I'm sorry to say to all the athletes out there, it's not always your full athletic body of work that gets you remembered, sometimes it's just that one 'moment' where everything seems to come together and 20 years from now everyone is still talking about it, and all of Irish nation claims to have been there in person.

    As the ghost of George Herman (Babe) Ruth told Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, "Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die."

    - Aaron Horvath

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