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    A New Home

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    While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.

    From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.

    Here's a look at our three new blog websites:

    UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics

    Strong and True: Notre Dame Football

    Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer

    Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.

    Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.

    Zagunis Among The Best Ever

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    When it comes to sports, we have our differences. What's the best rivalry in sports? Who's better: Kobe or LeBron? What's the greatest individual accomplishment in baseball history? The list goes on...

    But if there's one thing most of us can agree on, it's that the Olympic Games are awesome. In the weeks leading up to London, SI.com is counting down the top 100 memorable U.S. Summer Olympic moments.

    Coming in at #89 is none other than Notre Dame's own, Mariel Zagunis, who made Olympic history in 2004 by defeating Chinese fencer Xue Tan to capture America's first fencing gold medal in 100 years.

    Screen shot 2012-07-05 at 8.59.59 AM.png

    Check out the SI.com site for more on Zagunis' Olympic glory (When you visit the site, click each of the photos to learn more).

    You might as well go ahead and bookmark it now. SI will be releasing the remaining twenty moments, one per day, beginning on July 7 and continuing until the eve of the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    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.

    Fencing Around the World

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    Since the start of the new year, several current, former and future Irish fencers have been in action around the globe, with many looking to qualify for the London Olympics this summer. Here's a look at some of their finishes over the last couple months ...

    On Jan. 28 Race Imboden, who will be joining the Irish next year, teamed up with senior Gerek Meinhardt at the Men's Paris Foil World Cup to help lead the United States to a sixth place finish. Individually, Imboden added 26 points to his Olympic résumé by earning a bronze, while Meinhardt's 61st place netted two points.

    Imboden's medal marks the first time an American man placed in the Paris World Cup's foil event. He defeated Frenchman Guillaume Pita, fellow American Michael Dudey, Italian Edoardo Luperi, and German Peter Joppich on his way to claiming co-bronze medals with fellow American and club teammate Alex Massialis.

    At the Women's Epee World Cup in Doha, Qatar, senior Courtney Hurley joined former Irish fencers Kelley Hurley and Ewa Nelip at the Grand Prix on Saturday. Courtney's 48th place was good for two points toward her Olympic standings. She is the top-ranked women's epeeist in the nation.

    Another No. 1, former Irish sabreuse Mariel Zagunis defended her 2011 Orleans Saber Grand Prix with a victory on Saturday. She came out on top of the table of 64, solidifying her ranking and moving into the top spot of the Adjusted Olympic Rankings.

    Also competing on Saturday was high school senior Lee Kiefer, who has signed her letter of intent to fence for Notre Dame next year. The foilist placed 17th at the Tauberbischofsheim Foil World Cup in Germany, earning four points for her finish.

    For each team that qualifies for the Olympics, coaches will choose four fencers to comprise the squad. Points earned in Olympic qualifiers determine who will compete, and the cutoff for qualifying is March 31.

    Other Irish athletes in action this year included 2011 graduate Avery Zuck, who placed 58th in the Plovdiv Saber Grand Prix in Bulgaria on Feb. 5, and freshmen Ashley Severson and Channing Foster. In the Dijon Junior Epee World Cup, Severson and Foster placed fifth and 90th, respectively, at the Jan. 8 tournament. Severson also placed 12th at the Vigor Challenge on Feb. 5.

    - Craig Chval ('15)

    Strong of Heart - Teddy Hodges

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    To find out more about Teddy Hodges' incredible story, check out Al Lesar's piece in "Strong of Heart: Profiles of Notre Dame Athletics 2010".

    Tumultuous Journey Leads Coach to Notre Dame

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    It should also be noted that Janusz Bednarski is a great interview. He also has one of the most jaw-dropping offices in the Joyce Center. Hardware for days. - @NDsidJorge

    The Observer - During the late seventies Irish coach Janusz Bednarski was an economics professor at the SGPiS Business College in Warsaw in his home country of Poland, a state at that time controlled by the Soviet Union. Frustrated by the economic environment of Poland, Bednarski decided to switch teaching to physical education and coaching.

    "At that time there was no market for me to continue my work," Bednarski said. "So I switched."

    The decision has worked out well for Bedarski and has brought him across the globe to teach his craft. Over forty years later, Bednarski is 4,000 miles from his home and the coach of the defending national champion Irish, as well as the 2010-2011 NCAA coach of the year. The United States Fencing Coaches Association honored Bednarski with their highest award Monday.

    Bednarski first came to the United States after leading Poland's national team for ten years until 1988, when he left to take a post at a private fencing club near Colorado Springs. Bednarski worked with many of the top American Olympic fencers, eventually ascending to head coach of the American Olympic team in 1993. Just two years later, he would find himself in South Bend.

    "It was almost kind of an accident that I ended up at Notre Dame," Bednarski said. "I was running Poland's national team, which was one of the tops in the world at the time. Then I came to the United States, but I was looking for a chance to work at a university. I sort of fell into this job. I was attracted to the athletic tradition, academic standards and the Catholic tradition of this place."

    Since his arrival, Bednarksi has guided the Irish fencing program to three national championships in 2003, 2005 and 2011 and has overseen Notre Dame fencers who have gone on to thrive in international competition.

    To junior James Kaull, Bednarski's success stems from his precision and organization.

    "He's a fantastic organizer," Kaull said. "We're always where we're supposed to be all the time. There's never any confusion."

    The ability to run a program that includes over 50 athletes is a strongpoint of Bednarski's that compliments his technical knowledge and expertise.

    "He's great with our individual lessons and techniques," Kaull said. "He just really likes teaching the sport and helping people."

    The recognition from the USFCA is the first of Bednarski's career, although he did garner the association's Midwest Coach of the Year award in 1997 and 1998.

    "The honor is as much mine as it is all those who worked with this program and me," Bednarski said.

    In that vein, in just a week a new member of the Irish coaching staff will be introduced. Cedric Loiseau will become the new epeé coach, a position that has been vacant for most of the year and has been held in part by Kaull.

    "Loiseau came and led a practice over break," Kaull said. "We're really excited to have him here. He really knows what he's doing."

    Bednarski believes Loiseau's addition to his staff will allow the Irish to flourish for years to come.

    Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

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    Ask Us Before You Ask Them

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    Monogram Club Musings - USC

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    5752907.jpeg The Monogram Club continues to bring Irish fans the "Monogram Club Musings" following each home football game throughout the 2011 season ...

    Last weekend, the Monogram Club welcomed a number of high-profile guests back to campus for a home tilt with archrival USC. A plethora of NFL and NBA talent graced the Notre Dame campus and the sideline was sizzling with star power prior to kickoff.

    In addition, the Club had a strong presence at the 2011 fencing national championship ring ceremony Saturday morning in the Joyce Center.

    - More than 200 football Monogram winners formed the pregame on-field tunnel for the football team to run through. The annual event is always well received by member. Recently retired Notre Dame Alumni Association executive director Chuck Lennon ('61, '62, baseball) kept the tunnel in order like he does every year with the use of his trusty megaphone. Way to go Chuck!

    - The first quarter featured two ceremonies celebrating recent Notre Dame national championship teams. The 2010 women's soccer squad and 2011 men's and women's fencing teams made their way onto the field to be honored for their extraordinary achievements.

    - College Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Tim Brown ('88) was honored during the first timeout of the second quarter for receiving a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. Each year, the Silver Anniversary Awards recognize six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility. In addition to the on-field recognition, Brown had a busy weekend on campus. He riled fans up at Friday's pep rally, before stopping by the Monogram Club's football lounge event to catch up with some former teammates.

    - The 7:30 p.m. start time represented the first night game in Notre Dame Stadium in 21 years. The last Irish night game at home came on Sept. 15, 1990, against the University of Michigan.

    - The Irish sported new gold helmets on Saturday that added plenty of sparkle to the clear skies that surrounded Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick ('76) has been frustrated with the color of the helmets over the last couple of seasons and charged Notre Dame football head equipment manager Ryan Grooms with the challenge of getting it right. To hear how the decision was made, click here.

    - Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has some free time on his hands with the lockout in full swing, so the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year decided to make the most of his weekend by attending a number of Monogram Club events. The Muse spotted Thibodeau chatting it up with some former Irish gridders at Friday's football lounge and at the Club's pregame reception on Saturday.

    - The Muse always seems to struggle with in-game cell phone reception at Notre Dame Stadium, but didn't have the chance to catch up with Sprint CEO Dan Hesse ('75) on the Irish sideline to see if he had some pointers.

    - The inaugural Irish Madness to kick off the 2011-12 Notre Dame basketball season certainly brought some star power to Purcell Pavilion on Friday night. Emceed by ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, the event was awesome with a capital 'A', and included appearances by longtime Irish hoops coach Digger Phelps, San Antonio Silver Stars center Ruth Riley ('01) and the current Irish men's and women's basketball squads.

    The highlight of the night had to be the running commentary from current Irish baller and all-around cool cat Joey Brooks, who had a couple solid quips during the dunk contest. After graduate student Tim Abromaitis and fifth-year senior Scott Martin - the elder statesmen of the team - failed to connect on a number of tag team dunk attempts, Brooks proclaimed that it might be time to get out the "Life Alert."

    - Football Monogram winners Luther Bradley ('78) and Reggie Brooks ('93) had the crowd of more than 1,000 fans and supporters in stitches at Friday's football luncheon in the north dome of the Joyce Center. The two Notre Dame legends shared their favorite stories from the Notre Dame-USC rivalry while engaging with luncheon emcee Ted Robinson ('78), an NBC sports commentator and the play-by-play radio man for the San Francisco 49ers.

    Bradley - the all-time interceptions leader at Notre Dame - had the line of the afternoon, describing an interaction with his daughter recently while driving past Notre Dame on I-90. While sneaking a glance at the Golden Dome, she turned to her father and asked, "Daddy, are you sure you played in a game there?" That one must have stung a bit, Luther!

    Are You Experienced?

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