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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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Class Is In Session

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Coach Waldrum In Norway

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Notre Dame women's soccer head coach Randy Waldrum currently is in Norway as part of his role as the head coach of the United States Under-23 Women's National Team, leading a 17-player roster that includes former Fighting Irish two-time All-America forward and 2010 Honda Sports Award recipient Melissa Henderson.

The Americans are scheduled to play three exhibitions in the coming days, facing the Sweden U-23s (noon ET, Friday) and the Norwegian U-23s (noon ET, Sunday; 6 a.m. ET June 19), with all three matches to be played in Stjordal, Norway. During his trip, Coach Waldrum will offer his unique insights on the United States' highest youth level national team (one rung below the Women's National Team that will compete in the London Olympics later this summer), as well as the sights and sounds from an unforgettable trip to Scandinavia.

Sunday, June 17

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Champions!!! The US U-23's defeated Norway 4-1 today to win the Three Nations Tournament. Norway had defeated Sweden 4-2 earlier in the week, we tied Sweden 1-1, so the championship came down to today's game. We played very well for most of 90 minutes and you can see that we are getting better each day we are together. Our tie against Sweden was the first time we had played this team of players together and we got better in the second half of that game. It continued on today and we look much more comfortable with each other today.

We went ahead 1-0 with a goal from Sarah Hagen who intercepted a pass out from the Norwegian goalkeeper. She did a great job of finishing it off and punishing them for that mistake. Norway came back a few minutes later to tie the score at 1-1 off of a counter attack when we turned the ball over in midfield. Then Amanda DaCosta put us ahead shortly after Norway had tied the game with a goal that came after several shots of ours was blocked by the goalkeeper and Norwegian defense. Then later before halftime Morgan Marlborough broke free down the flank and scored from a very difficult angle to put us up 3-1 at the half.

We played very well in the second half continuing to build on our performance and we were rewarded with a fourth goal late when Courtney Verloo tracked down a lose ball and beat the onrushing goalkeeper to the ball. She cut the ball back from the endline and found Stephanie Ochs who curled a left footed shot into the upper 90 from about 20 yds out. The rest of the game was managed very well by a team that had the look of a true professional team! Very proud of these young women...

We will train light in the morning and then go into the town of Trondheim where we will shop and have dinner out. Then on Tuesday we will play Norway again in a friendly game before we head home on Wednesday! I'm looking forward to an afternoon away from here and seeing a different part of Norway. I am hoping to go see the men's professional team of Rosenborg train tomorrow while in Trondheim...I can do without the shopping!!!

But thank you to all of you that had us in your thoughts today, and for all the well wishes I received before the game! As I've always said, there are no better fans than those of the Irish Nation!!!!

Lax In The City - 6.15.12

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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 second entry in the summer series:Lax In The City.

As I sat there with at least a hundred lunch orders, a telephone number and a corporate credit card on my desk, all I could think was "don't screw this up!" If there is one thing I've learned working at ESPN the past two weeks, it's that the employees care about sports almost as much as they care about food. So as employees continue to file into my office giving me their orders and wishing me good luck, I start to feel a sense of responsibility. This is what interns are supposed to be good at - now is my time to shine. As I picked up the phone, I put on my most confident voice as I said, "Hi, I need to place a LARGE order..." Forty minutes later I put down the receiver and breathed a sigh of relief.

Now some of you may not understand why I consider this a pressure-packed situation. While it was by far the least important task I've had since being here, I still find it more difficult than "crunching numbers" - according to the Intern Orientation, this is what I do. If you know me, my job description should come as quite a surprise! Compiling advertisement prices and emerging property proposals for the upcoming quarter is easier for me because there is what people politely call a "learning curve" (i.e. low expectations). This is the same reason why my freshman lacrosse season at Notre Dame was probably the easiest for me. I was not better as a freshman than I am now; I just wasn't expected to know everything.

I'm the type of person who relishes being the underdog. I love going up against teams like Northwestern (winners of seven of the last eight national titles) because they allow me to play with a 'nothing to lose and everything to gain' mentality. That same mentality gets me excited when I'm given projects for my internship that I know are going to challenge me. Of course, failure is always a possibility, but reality doesn't stop me from savoring the opportunity. As ridiculous as it may sound, I love climbing mountains, but I'm terrified of molehills.

Over the years, I've learned that low expectations can be incredibly empowering, as long as you never doubt yourself. In my opinion, low expectations are the reason the Oklahoma City Thunder has made it all the way to the NBA Finals. They were given nothing to lose which made their success that much more surprising and motivating. It also does not hurt that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been filthy all year. When it comes down to it, those athletes knew they could do it. The world was just skeptical. Every day, people like me watch SportsCenter to hear stories of athletes who overcame a world of doubt to make it on to that coveted platform. We work our hardest in practice in order to be one of those people who defy the odds and end the season with a bigger number on the left side of the column than the right.

Moving to New York City to intern at ESPN has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and given me opportunities that I never thought I would have. As you can imagine, I love each and every day because I get to prove to my coworkers and myself that I have what it takes to make it in this business. Still, it is times like placing food orders that I realize just how much I still have to overcome about myself in order to truly be successful. I have to stop being afraid of the things I'm good at. While low expectations can be empowering, sometimes you have to learn to thrive on high expectations as well. If you cannot do that then you will never fully reach your potential. You don't want to be LeBron James at the end of the 2011 NBA Finals, knowing as the best player in the NBA, you let a mental block get between you and your ultimate goal. (Not going to lie, I hope he does it again.)

A Legend Ready To Lead

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Event Calendar

September 4
7:30 PM
vs USF
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

WatchND
September 4
4:00 PM
at Western Michigan
Kalamazoo, Mich. (WMU Soccer Complex)
September 4
4:00 PM
at Crusader Invitational
Valparaiso, Ind. (Sunset Hill Farm County Park)
September 4
7:00 PM
at Seton Hall
South Orange, N.J.

Live Video
September 5
7:30 PM
vs Texas
Notre Dame, Ind.

NBC
September 5
12:00 PM
vs Temple
South Orange, N.J.
September 5
5:30 PM
vs Hofstra
South Orange, N.J.
September 6
2:00 PM
vs UAB
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

ESPN3
September 6
12:00 PM
at Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. (DeMartin Soccer Complex)

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