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Remember those field trips you went on when you were in third grade? I remember going to the zoo, the science museum, and the symphony, to name a few. (Why someone thought that third graders would be able to sit through, much less appreciate, a two-hour long symphony... I have no idea.)
Imagine going on a third grade field trip to a Notre Dame football game. Sounds like just a dream, right? Not unless you're in Ms. Silva's third grade class. Then it's reality.
It all started three years ago, when Allison Silva's class at Taylor Leadership Academy in Stockton, California, had to decide what college they wanted to adopt for the year.
"At my school, each class adopts a different college," says Silva. "Because we're low-income, it's a low-income area, I'd say everybody that will go is going to be a first generation college student. So, it's sort of just a way for them to set that long-term goal of, this is going to be part of my life and they are aware of it."
Silva's brother graduated from Notre Dame and her father is, as Ms. Silva says, a big Notre Dame football fan. So, she might be a bit biased. But ultimately, it was the kids who voted to have Notre Dame as their school, in large part because of Notre Dame football.
"[Sports are] just sort of a natural gateway into catching their interest in college because that's something that they don't have and is not stressed in their household," says Silva. "So, Notre Dame is a natural fit. It was so funny, when I kind of presented them with a few choices it was like, 'Yeah, they're on my video game.' I'm like great, if you're going to be into it and be willing to learn about college. Whatever it takes."
Now, three years later and with a new group of third graders, Silva said this year's class has embraced Notre Dame more than any other year.
The walls of the California classroom are covered with Notre Dame and the students wear name tags with the signature leprechaun on them. Before each test, the class lines up and slaps a sign on the wall that says Play Like A Champion Today.
"It sort of gets them in the mindset of, 'I'm gonna tackle this and I'm excited for this test,'" says Silva.
To get the class' attention, Ms. Silva will yell, "Fighting!" to which the kids all respond in unison, "Irish!". When it's time to do research of their choice, it's almost always related to Notre Dame. One third grader found out she had the same birthday as Malik Zaire. After that discovery, Ms. Silva says she caught other kids sneaking on the computer to see if they shared a birthday with any of the players.
The students also write their own word problems that are centered around Notre Dame. Like this one:
Even outside of the classroom, the kids embrace Notre Dame. "Football isn't allowed at our school, so I have a Notre Dame basketball and they play basketball," says Silva. "But they say, 'We're the Notre Dame football team, playing basketball. I'm Jaylon Smith' or 'It's my turn to be Malik.'"
And, of course, the class watches Notre Dame play on Saturdays, usually at a local pizza parlor.
Last year, Ms. Silva decided to create a twitter account for her class. Not only is the account a way to share photos and videos of their love for Notre Dame but, it's also a way to connect the kids with the Notre Dame community.
"I wanted to bridge that gap," says Silva. "We know Notre Dame is a thing, we know that it's awesome, but how do I get these kids feeling like they're a part of it."
Social media was the answer. The twitter account has gotten the attention of some of the players, who will often retweet or "like" tweets from Ms. Silva's third grade class.
"It's bigger than just pressing retweet to the kids in my class," says Silva. "It's them feeling like they know [the players]. They think that Jerry Tillery wants to eat pizza with them from watching that Showtime episode."
The twitter account also caught the eye of Ted Mandell, a Film, Television, and Theatre professor at Notre Dame who is involved with producing a series of short documentaries called First Time Fans. Each documentary follows a person experiencing a Notre Dame football game for the first time.
Mandell first saw Ms. Silva's twitter account in the beginning of October, after someone tweeted at her saying that she should go to a Notre Dame game. When she responded that she had never been to one, Mandell, along with the film's director Chad Schaffler (ND '96), thought that Silva would be perfect for the First Time Fans series.
Camera crews wasted no time getting on a flight to Stockton to film Ms. Silva and her Notre Dame class.
"For me, it's all for the kids," says Silva. "So, when they said they were coming, I don't even think I could process thoughts at that point. That's been the most exciting part for me, that [the kids] felt so included in Notre Dame because these guys came out [to California]. It was like, they don't just know about us, they care about us."
A week later, Ms. Silva flew to South Bend for the Wake Forest game, getting the full Notre Dame experience.
On Friday afternoon, Ms. Silva facetimed her class to give them an update on the weekend. The kids were excited enough to see Ms. Silva at Notre Dame but when she revealed that she was being joined by Malik Zaire, the class went wild.
For the next 30 minutes, the students proceeded to ask Malik questions about football and sports in general. Mostly, though, the class asked Malik about school and what it was like to be a college student.
At one point, one of the kids asked, "Are you in the Golden Dome?" Unfortunately, we weren't. Before he said goodbye, the kids sang the fight song to Malik while he clapped along.
"Our local paper used a quote one of the kids said, 'We are Notre Dame,'" says Silva. "It's really how they feel now. It's seriously magical because they don't think of themselves as third graders. They think, we're just really small Notre Dame students and that's what they say. So the whole thing has been surreal."
Things only became more surreal for Ms. Silva on Saturday before the Wake Forest game, when she found out a generous donor had heard of her and her class and wanted to give them tickets to the Stanford game, just 80 miles from Stockton.
What was the class' reaction when Ms. Silva told them they would be going to a Notre Dame game? Watch below.
While adopting Notre Dame has given the students a group of players to idolize and a team to root for, the most important thing for Ms. Silva is what the Notre Dame football team has been able to teach this group of third graders.
"Even just through following Notre Dame, they've learned about all the colleges they've played," says Silva. "So, it's this awareness of, okay college exists, it's an option and I can do it and I can get there."
On Saturday, there will most likely be a good number of Notre Dame fans at the Stanford game. But no one will be louder than Ms. Silva's third grade class, ND Class of 2029.
The men's basketball team won their season opener Friday night against St. Francis (PA), 87-56.
But before the season got started, Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson surprised a South Bend family by hand-delivering their season tickets.
After Bonzie and Steve handed off the tickets, they spent some time with the lucky family signing autographs, taking pictures, and playing the piano.
Check out the cool moment in the video below.
The Notre Dame Cross Country team will compete in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Friday at UW-Madison. 2014 National Champion Molly Seidel ('16) and 2x Foot Locker Champion Anna Rohrer ('19) are coming off a 1-2 finish at the ACC Championships two weeks ago, so hopes are high for the women's squad.
Earlier this season, Flotrack, a popular track and field website, visited Notre Dame and caught up with some of the best competitors in the country. They also documented a pretty tough workout. Be warned, this video might make you feel self-conscious about your current workout plan, or lack thereof.
(If you're wondering how the camera people kept up with these girls... they were filming on bikes.)
Watch more videos on Flotrack
Tuesday night, the College Football Playoff Committee announced their latest rankings and Notre Dame came in at a "solid" #4. As expected, ND Nation was pretty pleased.
Also to be expected, there were some critics, including those who thought the Big 12 wasn't getting enough love.
And others who aren't convinced that Notre Dame's schedule is that strong.
But, at least Kirk Herbstreit has faith in Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, Mike Golic Jr. was concerned with more pressing issues.
And despite the non-believers, this tweet was the most accurate of the night.
At the end of the day, at least we're not College Football Playoff chairman Jeff Long. Though, he does seem to have a good sense of humor.
Even with all the noise, Notre Dame players are focused on what's important right now.
As Brian Kelly said in his press conference on Tuesday, "It's kind of like being on the treadmill... You keep your eyes in front of you and you just keep moving forward."
When in New York, do as the New Yorkers do and... take the Subway.
That's not always the motto for Notre Dame teams who play in the Big Apple but for the Notre Dame hockey team, it seemed like the best option on Sunday.
The Irish participated in the first ever college hockey event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, taking on UConn in a series of games on Saturday and Sunday.
The New York City Marathon, however, was also taking place on Sunday, leaving the hockey team to take an unconventional form of transportation to the arena: the Subway.
Turns out, traveling underground might be the way to go. The Irish won heavily on Sunday by a score of 8-2, following a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
After the weekend sweep, Notre Dame broke into the National Rankings for the first time in a year, landing the No. 18 spot.
For a few years now, I've been intrigued by the hockey culture surrounding the state of Minnesota. I've been to Minnesota two memorable times in my nearly 22 years; both were in the last year. The first time was in January of this year. It's a bad idea to drive North on I-35 in January during a blizzard, but I had the opportunity to go to a Minnesota Wild game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks at the Xcel Energy Center, so I was pretty motivated to get to the Twin Cities on time. The first thing I noticed at Xcel was the plethora of "State of Hockey" banners hanging from the ceiling. And it really seems to be the only state where hockey isn't just a hobby; rather, it's an expectation.
I've met quite a few people from Minnesota here at Notre Dame, and most of them did play hockey at one point or another in their lives. I can't name a single person I know from back home (Kansas) who ever tried hockey. Last year, when I interviewed Steven Fogarty, he said he played hockey growing up in Minnesota "because everyone played hockey," and he wasn't hyperbolizing. It's an interesting culture, and I've always been amazed by it.
The Notre Dame roster features eight members from Minnesota, and five of those eight went to Edina High School. The state with the second most players on the roster is Illinois with only four. That alone shows that there's something unique about the land of 10,000 lakes. Unsurprisingly, the University of Minnesota has a few--okay, a lot--more students and athletes from its own state. 22 of the 28 players (nearly 79%) on the Minnesota Golden Gophers roster are from the state. If football is a religion in the South, hockey is definitely a religion in the North.
Pictured above, counter-clockwise: Jordan Gross, Maple Grove; Mario Lucia, Plymouth; Bo Brauer, Connor Hurley, Dylan Malmquist, Steven Fogarty, and Ben Ostlie, Edina; Tony Bretzman, Mendota Heights
And that's why I'm always so eager for the series against Minnesota. When the Golden Gophers come into town, there's an unspoken sense of heightened excitement that invades campus. There's also that little family rivalry that everyone knows about (in case you didn't know--but you probably did--our own senior Mario Lucia plays his father, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, a 1981 Notre Dame graduate) that makes things more intense. More importantly, it's the fact that such a big portion of our own team have played with and against the members of the Minnesota team not only in college, but every year of pee-wee, junior and high school hockey leading up to these games. For one weekend, friends and family become frenemies and the oft-known overly warm, ambitiously sweet Minnesotans become ice cold and viciously competitive. It's a series that never fails to entertain.
Notre Dame men's basketball may have lost two all-time great players from last year's ACC Championship squad but, they've added four new names to the roster, each determined to make their own impact on the program.
Recently, I sat down with the freshmen and got to know more about the new kids on the court:
MR: Matt Ryan - Forward - #4 - 6'8 - Carroll Hall
EB: Elijah Burns - Forward - #12 - 6'9 - St. Edwards Hall
CH: Chad Holtz - Guard - #15 - 6'5 - Dillon Hall
RP: Rex Pflueger - Guard - #0 - O'Neill Hall
Why Notre Dame?
MR: It's a great school academically and athletically. They recruited me for a long time and my family fell in love with it just like I did.
EB: It's a great institution academically. It's one of the best places I was getting recruited by.
CH: It's a great school academically. I've kind of been around the University my whole life so I've always wanted to come here.
RP: It was the best position for me. They offered everything I wanted, academics and athletics, and I had a great group of other guys come in with me.
Favorite spot on campus?
MR: The gym.
EB: The gym.
CH: The gym.
RP: Everyone wants to say the gym, but also Recker's.
EB: Also, my bed.
MR: Yeah we don't get to go there that much.
If you didn't play basketball, what sport would you play?
North Dining Hall or South Dining Hall?
*Elijah wanted to be "different," also, NDH is closer to his dorm.
Why did you pick the number you wear?
MR: My favorite player growing up was JJ Redick, so I always wanted to wear number 4.
EB: For me it [number 12] is just a family thing.
CH: 15 has just always been my number.
RP: I've been [number] 1 my whole life, but ya know, 0 is pretty cool too.
Who are your NBA Role Models?
MR: JJ Redick.
EB: Boris Diaw.
CH: Uhhh...(Matt jokingly suggests Brian Scalabrine).
RP: Paul George and Jimmy Butler.
Which ACC opponent are you most excited to play?
MR: We're looking forward to everybody. We came here to play basketball and to play against good teams/players every night.
EB: Specifically in the ACC, our first game away is at Virginia and I'm really looking forward to that.
CH: Yeah, the Virginia game.
RP: I'd say the Virginia game especially, the North Carolina game here and Duke away.
One word to describe your style of play?
EB: Let me take this one. Physical.
CH: Uhhh... (after some pondering his teammates decided his style of play was most accurately described as simply, "Chad.")
One word to describe this team?
It's safe to say this group is ready to start the season, have some fun, and make their own mark on the Notre Dame basketball program.
I know I'm biased but, Ruth Riley is awesome.
The Notre Dame legend, former WNBA player, and Olympic gold medalist testified before Congress on Tuesday morning to advocate against cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In her testimony, Riley recounts her family's hardships during her childhood and how they often relied on food stamps.
You can watch her testimony below.
When Notre Dame's Director of Sports Science Matt Howley first started working with the men's soccer team over three years ago, head coach Bobby Clark gave him the reigns to revise their fitness training program.
A significant part of Howley's revision was the introduction of a new athlete monitoring technology called Catapult.
The GPS device is fairly small, no bigger than a bar of soap, and it fits snugly into a pocket that sits between the shoulder blades on compression shirts worn beneath the players' jerseys. Using satellite technology, the device measures things like how far or fast a player runs, how many times they sprint in a game, and various body movements, to name a few.
The Catapult device
The measurement Howley looks at most, though, is 'player load', a number that, simply put, encompasses all of an athlete's movements to represent the total output of an athlete. "[Player load] takes into account what speed you're running at, how many accelerations you're doing, how many decelerations you're doing, how many times you change direction (front and back, side to side, up and down), all that kind of stuff," said Howley.
The soccer team wears these devices in all of their games and practices. On the surface, game data collected by the system provides some fascinating numbers.
The highest speed recorded by a player in a game, for example, is 33.4 kilometers per hour (about 20.8 miles per hour) by sophomore forward Jon Gallagher. Data from the devices has also shown that the players run, on average, about 6.8 miles in a game.
While these numbers alone are intriguing, the technology accomplishes so much more than just measuring who ran the fastest or the furthest in a game. The Catapult system is an invention that has truly transformed the fitness program of the men's soccer team, which is exactly what Coach Clark asked Howley to do.
For Howley and the soccer team, gathering data from games is essential in the larger goal of helping athletes perform at their highest level while also staying away from injury.
Once game data from the devices is collected and analyzed, the performance requirements for a typical soccer game can be determined. Then, Matt and the coaches can use that information to efficiently map out their practices and training for a given week.
"When we're planning practice, we look at the data so we can know what's easy and what's hard," said Howley. "The biggest thing is, you can train however you want to train but you need to understand the demands of your game to actually be on a program. By monitoring it and understanding the load you did in a game you can then adjust your training load - do more, do less. By having everything charted, then we can be proactive. We know if we do X drill, we're going to accumulate on average X kind of effort. We will then know what drills to do [in practice]."
Howley monitors the GPS data live during a recent practice. The system updates every two seconds. Howley keeps track of player loads for each block or drill of practice as well as the accumulated player load over the entire session for each player.
Not only does the data, and especially player load measurements, collected from the devices help the coaches decide which sessions and drills in practice will help players achieve optimum performance in game scenarios, but it also helps the coaching staff monitor fatigue and, in result, decrease the likelihood of injury in their players.
When it comes to fatigue and injury, Howley says, the high intensity movements, such as sprinting, are the ones he monitors most closely.
"We know that those higher intensity movements are the ones that can potentially be the most harming but, they're essentially instances that can win us games," said Howley. "So, if we can have them better maintained and healthier at that point, we can then ensure we're able to perform on game day."
Noticing fatigue represented in the data is one thing. But, making conscious decisions in response is more challenging.
"The hardest thing to figure out is what to do with the information and how to convey that to a coach," said Howley. "I like to think we're now in a position where we're able to use it week to week and actually make some informed decisions."
Those informed decisions could be changing the intensity of a practice or just giving the players a day off altogether.
When I spoke to Howley last Wednesday, the team was coming off a six day stretch where they played in two double overtime games and one single overtime game. Based on the Catapult data and more subjective measures, such as wellness questionnaires given to the players, a decision was made to give those who played the most minutes an extra day off.
These decisions, though, are not made my Howley alone. The entire coaching staff gets a chance to analyze and apply the Catapult information that is collected.
Howley also sends an individualized report to the players after every game so that they can see what kind of data is being recorded and how they are performing. "The coaches get a report every day," said Howley. "We give the coaches a little more information [than the players], though that doesn't mean that they'll necessarily understand it any more. We just give [the players] game data and some basic running information."
So, what numbers do the players focus on the most?
"For them, it's all about top speed," said Howley. "It's never 'how much distance did I run?' It's usually 'how fast did I go?' It's a competition between the guys."
Once they get past the speed element, though, Howley says the devices are helping the players better understand and appreciate the training process.
"The guys, in some sense, are really trusting," said Howley. "They know that we know how we're managing them and that there's a reason for everything. It's not like we just come out here and train. There's a rationale behind what we do and a reason that the day before a game looks the way it does and why they get days off when they do. It's all planned out."
Captain Max Lachowecki is in his fifth year on the team and has been here throughout the entire process of incorporating the Catapult system. Lachowecki acknowledges the impact of the system on the team's fitness regimen. "[Matt] completely changed the culture around our fitness program and the way we do things," said Lachowecki.
And while Max said it's "cool" to see the results from the game in terms of the effort he's putting out, he understands that there's a deeper effect as well.
"It's a confidence boost for us going into each game knowing that we are the fittest team in the country," said Lachowecki. "There's no reason that a team should outwork us. It's all mental at that point."
So far, the revitalized fitness program has had plenty of chances to prove it's worth. The men's team has played in seven overtime or double overtime games this season. Their record in these games is two wins, zero losses, and five ties. Being able to stay in the game is, in large part, due to the fitness of the team, something Howley credits to more than just the Catapult system.
"If we hadn't gone to the structure, the program, the philosophy we use, we wouldn't be at this level," said Howley. "That all stems from the underlying of the coaching and those kinds of things that we instilled three years ago. But [Catapult] gives us the ability to provide the coaches and the guys with more information."
While Howley works closely with the men's soccer squad, they aren't the only team using this technology. The women's soccer team has been using Catapult for four years and men's and women's lacrosse as well as women's basketball have been using it for two years. The hockey, football, and volleyball teams have all done trials with the system and, according to Howley, will likely adopt it completely in the near future if funding is available.
Outside of Notre Dame, the system is even more popular. It is being used on a regular basis by 15 NFL teams, 11 NBA teams, 2 NHL teams, 35 schools in the NCAA, and countless professional rugby and soccer teams internationally.
If you ask Bobby Clark about the fitness of his team, he'll give almost all of the credit to Matt Howley and his implementation of the Catapult system. How does Howley feel about that?
"[Catapult] definitely helps," said Howley. "I wouldn't say it's the ultimate reason, but without it we wouldn't be able to make some of the decisions we've been able to make."
Listen to our full conversation here:
For the women's basketball team, the core of this preseason storyline is the same as always: a national championship is the ultimate goal.
Two veteran players leading the way towards that goal this season are Madison Cable, a graduate student, and Hannah Huffman, a senior finance major.
Cable and Huffman are not only two of the more experienced players on this basketball team but also two of the more interesting personalities as well (just check out this picture of the two wearing t-shirts with pictures of their pets on them.)
The two leaders are also no stranger to the preparation and hard work it takes to make it to a national championship, playing in the title game each of the past two years. In their time at Notre Dame, that preparation has always included summer school to help stay on track with classes during the season and be able to train and workout alongside their teammates.
This summer, however, was different for Cable and Huffman as they chose not to attend summer school but to return to their home states for a summer internship. While the internship experience is pretty standard for Notre Dame students, it is not as common for those on the basketball team.
Maddie Cable, a Pennsylvania native, took advantage of the opportunity to return home and work in the Pittsburgh Penguins front office. "It was a cool time to be there because the team was for sale this summer," said Cable. "I saw the logistics of what went into that and the preparation it takes for somebody to buy a team."
Also, being there in the summer meant Cable was able to experience the heart of the free agency period. "I was there on a big day when we got one of the best guys on the team, Phil Kessel," said Cable. "So, everyone was really excited that day."
For Cable, someone who has been an athlete for the majority of her life, getting a glimpse of the alternate, business side of a sports team was an opportunity she couldn't pass up. "It was just cool to be around and to see the logistics of a sports organization on the other side of not being a player," said Cable.
Leaving the world of sports, Hannah Huffman put her business major to work while employed within technology consulting at Deloitte back home in her native San Francisco. "I was put on the Hewlett-Packard project over the summer," said Huffman. "[HP] is currently splitting into two Fortune 500 companies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. So, deloitte was asked to go to HP and help separate the two companies and set up their IT infrastructure. The HP project was Deloitte's biggest project so I was actually really fortunate as an intern to be assigned to that project."
While at Deloitte, Hannah was also really fortunate to be able to meet the organization's CEO Cathy Engelbert, the first U.S. female CEO of a Big Four firm and a graduate of Lehigh University. Another cool fact? Engelbert played basketball under Coach McGraw while she was at Lehigh.
"We had a great conversation about Coach McGraw and her time at Lehigh and her love for sports - she's an absolute huge basketball fanatic," said Huffman. "As an intern, to be able to say I had a conversation with a CEO of the whole organization was just a huge highlight of the summer."
In addition to meeting the CEO, Huffman was also offered to return to the organization full-time once she graduates this coming May.
While going away for the summer is something that is not necessarily the norm for basketball players, that doesn't mean it's frowned upon, especially not for older players who have become accustomed to the routine of the program.
In fact, getting Coach McGraw's 'OK' to leave for the summer was not too challenging of a task.
"I think she definitely supports us in internships and she wants us to go out and get experience and make networks and connections," said Cable.
And for Huffman specifically, the opportunity to leave for an internship during the summer before her senior year was a large part of her decision to play at Notre Dame.
"When I was being recruited here that was one of the first questions I asked," said Huffman. "Especially in the business world, it's really crucial to have that work experience. [Coach McGraw] really wants us to not only be great basketball players but have a great professional life. Going away from the team for 3 months made it easier with her support behind us."
The transition back so far this fall has been, as you might expect, fairly easy for these veteran players who have been here before.
"We have such an intense schedule when we're here, which is good because it keeps us focused and everything," said Cable. "When we go home, we're on our own time. But, once we get here, it's not that hard. You just jump right back into it and it's nice to be around our teammates again."
For Huffman, a new experience in the workforce, a job offer, and a stronger appreciation for Notre Dame were all gained when she decided to step away from campus for the summer.
"[It was] the longest I've been away from Notre Dame and it kind of gave me a chance to really appreciate how much I love going here," said Huffman. "When you go and do things for the last time you appreciate them in a whole different light."
For now, it's back to the grind of balancing schoolwork and basketball and, as always, focusing on winning a national championship.
- notre dame gear: "Lime green 42... fashionably correct fuchsia 42... hut, hut.. HIKE!" read more
- Zachary Barredo: Hi, what type of air playne it was there!? read more
- celtic544: Who's next for the Irish? Slippery Rock? read more
- WallsKatheryn21: One understands that life seems to be high priced, nevertheless we need money for different issues and not every person read more
- Frank Lardy: Great Piece!! My wife and I were laughing out loud at this. read more
- HensonCONSTANCE: That's cool that we can receive the loan and that opens up new possibilities. read more
- GEOB: The only positive coming from this game is Coach Kelly's relization (I hope) that Hendricks is the present and future read more
- tom matthews: Notre Dame's football team is fast becoming unwatchable. The current team has not improved since game one. Penalties and turnovers read more
- game of thrones: People around me are all talking about game of thrones these days. I am so happy because I am a read more
- brian hess: PATHETIC!! read more