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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)

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