"I just have one thing to say to Tim - 'You're huge!'"
"Kenneth - King of the Front Handspring"
Through the Irish Experience League the Notre Dame community takes the fun, spirit and values inherent in Notre Dame Sports to the community. Volunteers include varsity student-athletes, faculty, staff and students as the Notre Dame family grows stronger through community building in South Bend.
Learn more about the Irish Experience League at youthsports.nd.edu.
Notre Dame hits the midpoint of the BIG EAST season this weekend, sitting at the .500 mark in conference play. The Irish head to Georgetown, trying to do something our politicians can't...get something done in Washington, D.C.
I'm no Karl Rove or David Axelrod, but here are the issues I think the Irish should focus on in order to get a landslide victory.
Reduce the deficit: It's great the Irish have shown THE ability to comeback from four runs down. It would be even better not to put themselves in those situations. Mik Aoki has directly challenged his team to play with more urgency from the outset of games. They did it Friday night against Cincinnati, but it has to happen more than once a week.
Focus on the economy....of pitches. Normally, the Irish starters are strike throwers, but that wasn't the case last weekend. Will Hudgins wasn't his usual sharp self, falling behind in counts. Pat Connaughton needed 80 pitches to get through just four innings. He frequently seemed to be overthrowing, and not following through. Finding the strike zone will result in fewer pitches and longer starts.
Strengthen the defense...The shortstop position has accounted for 20 errors in 35 games, and that's one reason for the increased pitch count. The pitchers have to help their own cause, though. They have made six errors, most frequently on bunts. Georgetown has some speedsters in Justin Leeson and Rand Ravnaas who like to bunt for hits, so Notre Dame better be prepared for small ball.
Find renewable energy...It's not surprising a young team like the Irish might be hitting a wall at this point of the year. 35 games is a full high school season, but there's still six weeks to go in the college season. The week off from games may help the youngsters, as well as junior catcher Joe Hudson, who has been behind the plate for every game but one this year.
Emphasize health care...Charlie Markson should be fully recovered from his virus. Trey Mancini is expected to be back from the wrist contusion. Even Hudson's thumb which has been hurting since early in the season should be a little better.
Be aware of a foreign power...Georgetown used to be the BIG EAST doormat, but Peter Wilk has the best team he's had in 15 years on the Hill. The Hoyas enter the weekend above .500 and just a game behind Notre Dame in the conference. Leeson is a quality leadoff man with speed, Ravnaas is a legitimate all-BIG EAST selection, and Stanford transfer Mike Garza is an offensive force.
Pitching and defense continue to be a problem for the Hoyas. They allow five earned runs per game and have committed 60 errors. The Irish need to be the aggressor and make Georgetown feel more like North Korea.
Don't be distracted by anything else...the bucolic setting of Shirley Povich Field, throwback uniforms and the like. These are the issues that are important. It will require sweat, effort and sacrifice (both bunts and flies). But as a team...together everyone achieving more...victory can be achieved for God, country and Notre Dame!
- Chuck Freeby ('86)
Over 30 football players and many more student-athletes participated in 'The Bald and the Beautiful' event on campus in mid-April, helping the St. Baldrick's Foundation in its effort to find a cure for childhood cancer.
This Saturday, April 21 at 1:30 pm ET, the Notre Dame football team wraps up a month of spring practice with the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game. Notre Dame director of football media relations Brian Hardin (@NDHardin) compiled an A to (almost) Z Fan Guide and a Game Format and Scoring Guide detailing everything you might need in preparation for Saturday.
I would encourage you to check those out, but if you're short on time, here's a quick summary of the basics:
Alumni Flag Football Game: 11 a.m. at Notre Dame Stadium. Former Irish players Sergio Brown ('10) and Golden Tate will serve as honorary coaches. Use your Blue-Gold ticket to enter beginning at 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting).
Broadcast: The game will air live nationally on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus). The NBCSN broadcast wil also be available streaming at UND.com. For radio listeners, the game will be available locally on Sports Radio 960 AM and 96.1 FM.
Game Clock: Traditional 4-quarter, 60-minute game, except the second half will utilize a running clock.
Halftime: The 15-minute break will feature a rugby match between Notre Dame's club team and a national team featuring former Irish running back James Aldridge ('10).
Jerseys: The Irish coaching staff has elected to split the teams Offense vs. Defense, rather than Blue vs. Gold. The offense will wear blue and the defense will be in white.
Parking: Tailgate lots are free to the public and open at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Rule Changes: There will be no kickoffs and each possession will start at the 35-yard line. All punts will be fair caught. All players are live, including quarterbacks. The defense can bring pressure on third down and snaps inside the 20-yard line.
Scoring: The offense will earn points the same way it does in all football games. The defensive scoring is as follows: stop before 50-yard line (4 points), stop after 50-yard line (2 pts), turnover forced before 50-yard line (7 pts), turnover forced after 50-yard line (3 pts), forced field goal attempt (1 pt).
Tickets: Box office opens at 9 a.m. - $15 for adults, $10 for youth (18 and under).
Once again, a Notre Dame athlete has found himself one of the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
After women's basketball player Natalie Novosel and hockey player Sean Lorenz were named finalists earlier this year, Kevin Randall has earned a spot on the list of lacrosse nominees for the prestigious award as well.
The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award - an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School - recognizes seniors for their loyalty to their schools, as well as excellence with regard to community, classroom, character and competition.
Randall has accumulated a 3.542 grade-point average while pursuing a civil engineering degree. Along with captaining the Irish defense, the senior also spends his time volunteering at the Perley Fine Arts Academy.
"I don't get a lot of sleep, which is the first thing," Randall says in explaining his workload. "At Notre Dame it's about so much more than just being a lacrosse player. It's also about the education you can receive and the influence Notre Dame has throughout the nation, and specifically this community.
"It's something that drew me here."
In his four years at Notre Dame, Randall has developed into one of the leaders of the fifth-ranked Irish. In his first couple years with the team, he was able to learn from upperclassmen who shaped his own progression as a leader.
"There have always been guys that have been great players and also great role models and teachers on the field. So I've had the good fortune of playing with those guys," says Randall. "And also Coach (Gerry) Byrne has been one of the best assistant coaches in college lacrosse, so I've had the benefit of playing for him and learning from him."
Randall will learn if he is the winner of the award at the Division I finals, which will be held May 26 and 28. It will be all the more satisfying if the Irish are playing on that last day of the postseason, though.
"Interestingly enough, we don't set a team goal of winning a national championship," Randall says. "We think that if we work hard every day and improve every day, that will take us where we need to be. "
The winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is decided through voting by fans, coaches and the media. Fans are encouraged to vote at seniorclassaward.com/lacrosse.
- Craig Chval ('15)
We're less than 72 hours from the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game...
This morning after practice, head coach Brian Kelly announced some changes to the game's format, explaining that the teams will be broken up as Offense against Defense, rather than simply Blue versus Gold.
Coach Kelly explains in the video above that this format is designed to prevent any of the Irish players from having to play for nearly the entire contest, a problem that would have occurred had the Irish taken a traditional spring game approach.
As such, there will be a different scoring system designed so that both the offensive and defensive squads can score points. Offensively, the Irish will stick to traditional scoring (six points for a touchdown, three for a field goal, etc.).
On the other side, the defensive scoring will focus on turnovers. Led by Coach Diaco, the defense will earn seven points for a turnover forced before the 50-yard line, and three points for a takeaway after midfield.
Similarly, it will earn four points for a turnover before the 50, and two for a stop beyond it. The defense can also earn one point by forcing a field goal attempt.
For more on the spring game format, check out the release on UND.com.
They're less than two weeks into the young MLB season, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have already been hampered by a slew of key injuries. While it might be tough news for D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, it has presented former Notre Dame standout A.J. Pollock with a special opportunity.
The Hebron, Conn. native was called up from Triple-A Reno last night, and could make his MLB debut today or tomorrow. Pollock was hitting .340 through 12 games with the Aces. Nick Piecoro has more in the Arizona Republic.
Notre Dame assistant director of media relations and baseball sports information director Michael Bertsch (@NDsidBertschy) also uncovered some great data on the Irish in the big leagues.
Pollock's debut will make him the 73rd former Irish player to appear in the MLB, seventh-most from any school, and first among those in the BIG EAST.
Total Players in MLB History (NCAA)
USC - 103
Texas - 101
Arizona State - 99
Stanford - 83
Holy Cross - 77
Michigan - 77
Notre Dame - 73
Arizona - 69
Illinois - 69
UCLA - 68
Total Players in MLB History (BIG EAST)
Notre Dame - 73
Villanova - 49
Georgetown - 36
Seton Hall - 28
West Virginia - 24
Rutgers - 21
Cincinnati - 18
St. John's - 18
Pittsburgh - 16
USF - 12
Connecticut - 11
Louisville - 3
When Pollock debuts for the Diamondbacks, possibly tonight against Pittsburgh or tomorrow in the series opener versus Atlanta, he will become the fourteenth Irish player to appear in an MLB game since the draft began in 1965.
It's been a relatively quick road to the show for Pollock, who spent the 2009 season right here in South Bend with the Class A Silver Hawks. He underwent arm surgery in 2010, and rebounded in 2011 with a strong season at Class AA Mobile (.307, 41 2B, 8 HR, 73 RBI).
Among other fast call-ups in Irish MLB history were RHP Aaron Heilman (748 days), current Chicago Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (780 days), and LHP Dan McGinn (948 days).
For position players, OF Dan Peltier (1,117 days) was the quickest to the big leagues, followed by two-time World Series champion INF Craig Counsell (1,203 days).
The Diamondbacks host the Pirates today at 3:40 pm ET in the finale of a three-game set. Follow @NDBaseball on Twitter as Pollock looks to make his major league debut.
Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.
We're just eight days away from the 2012 NFL Draft, with nine former Notre Dame football players hoping to get the call that will change their lives. One of the those NFL hopefuls is safety Harrison Smith, the 2011 Irish captain. Smith is expected by many to be a second round pick, but some draft pundits also believe he could be a late first rounder.
The Green Bay Packers, who have the 28th pick, may be one of the teams interested in the Knoxville, Tenn. native. Their former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins underwent neck surgery during the 2011 season, and is still waiting to hear from doctors before he decides on his playing future.
The Packers finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, but fell to the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs. Smith is one player who may be able to help a secondary that struggled for much of the 2011 campaign.
Tyler Dunne has more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
At a sturdy 6 feet 2 inches and 213 pounds, Smith is intelligent, long and fast. He's one player who may be capable of covering today's athletic tight end. Throughout his meetings with teams, that has been the hot topic.
"There's a big tight end in every division that dominated last year," Smith said. "Nobody found a great way to stop it without leaving other things open. So that's something people are definitely focused on.
"How do you stop these big, athletic guys? I think the best way to stop them is with bigger, athletic safeties that match up better with them. It's hard to put a corner on them. It's hard to put a linebacker on them. A bigger safety who can run with them and make plays on the ball is something teams put a lot of value on."
Visit JSonline.com for the full article, and tune in to next weekend's draft to see where Smith and his Irish teammates wind up.
Yesterday afternoon, Notre Dame deputy director of athletics Bill Scholl was introduced as the director of intercollegiate athletics at Ball State in Muncie, Ind.
A 1979 Notre Dame graduate, Bill has served the athletic department at his alma mater for more than two decades, most recently responsible for senior-level administration, including fundraising and donor relations, divisional budget construction and growing external revenue.
Bill was also the sport administrator for football team, working with head coach Brian Kelly and the Irish program on a daily basis.
As seen in the photo above from last October's game against USC, Bill presented a plaque at halftime to 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, commemorating the Irish great's selection as one of six recipients for the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.
Having only worked in the department since August, I cannot speak much of Bill's contributions to Notre Dame, but I know his numerous accomplishments have been instrumental in developing our university's athletic programs. Several Notre Dame colleagues also expressed their well wishes on Twitter, including director of football media relations Brian Hardin and und.com's Jack Nolan.
In the short time that I have known Bill, his door has always been open and he has had the best interest of the university community and student-athletes at heart - two characteristics that will undoubtedly contribute to his success when he begins at Ball State at the end of the month.
For more on Bill's new opportunity, check out the official press release on UND.com.
Thanks, Bill. Good luck leading the Cardinals.