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.
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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
Yesterday, the Notre Dame men's golf team picked up a pair of BIG EAST conference honors for the second consecutive season. Senior Max Scodro was named Player of the Year and head coach Jim Kubinski claimed Coach of the Year. In addition, senior Chris Walker, junior Paul McNamara III and sophomore Niall Platt joined Scodro on the 14-player all-BIG EAST team. Keep an eye on the Irish next week at Golfstat.com. They will head to Michigan where they will begin NCAA tournament play in the Ann Arbor region on Thursday, May 17. But first, check out the latest "Student. Athlete. Irish." feature, and get to know more about Scodro off the course.
Golfweek.com - In Jim Kubinski's eight years as head coach at Notre Dame, never has his team been able to practice outdoors before March - the Indiana winters were too harsh. That changed this year, however, when the Irish teed it up three times last week at Knollwood Country Club, Kubinski's home club, despite a few patches of snow, frozen turf, 38-degree temperatures and layers of thermal underwear. For many Notre Dame players, those rounds represented their first exposure to outdoor golf in months. They had been limited to the team's extravagant indoor practice facility - complete with hitting bays and an extensive short-game area - so bundling up for the elements still was a welcome reprieve. Yet not every Irish player's practice has been restricted to artificial turf and X-out golf balls. For tri-captain Max Scodro, those rounds at Knollwood were merely the extension of an active offseason geared toward polishing off one of the program's finest careers. In December, when many of his teammates headed home for the holidays, Scodro teed it up in Arizona at the Patriot All-America Invitational, a top amateur event where he tied for 44th. Afterward, the Chicago native stayed an extra week in the desert, playing a few casual rounds with his parents, who own a second home in Scottsdale. With a lenient class schedule during his final semester on campus - no classes on Friday - Scodro twice has flown to sunny Scottsdale to play on the long weekend, a college golfer's dream setup. In five rounds at the Tom Fazio-designed Mirabel Golf Club, he hasn't shot worse than 70, including two 63s and a 65. Though Scodro was unable to repeat that kind of performance at The Match Play event held earlier this week near Orlando, he still won two matches to help lead the Irish to their first team title of the season. That the victory came here, on the Watson Course at Reunion Resort, only added to the good vibes surrounding the Irish program; the Big East Conference championship will be held on this track in late April. Said Scodro, No. 72 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings: "It's reassuring to see our guys with this much confidence in February." In short, they simply are following their leader. Scodro, the Big East's reigning Player of the Year, led the Irish in scoring in each of their five fall events, with three top-10 finishes and no result outside the top 25. "Boring golf," he said. Told later of this analysis, Kubinski laughed and said: "Well, he's playing solid every week." Scodro's career is fascinating to chart. Kubinski remembers attending an AJGA event outside Chicago in 2006, Scodro's sophomore year of high school. The hometown kid was laughing and smiling, and he had a fluid action. "My first thought was, 'Who is this kid? He's going to be good,' " Kubinski said. And Scodro has been, winning an event during his freshman season, losing in a playoff at the Big East Championship the next season and, last year, at Innisbrook, capturing the individual conference title. Along the way, he has developed a delicate touch around the greens and an appreciation (and aptitude) for the simple shots. Kubinski recalled a pivotal moment from the 2009 Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic, at which Scodro secured a victory for the home team by sticking a seemingly impossible flop shot on the 18th to tap-in range. "He'd hit the dramatic shots, like that, but couldn't execute basic chips," Kubinski said. Scodro is more well-rounded now, though that simply may be the natural evolution of his game under instructor Jeff Mory, who transformed Scodro from an "inside-out slinger" to an upright, powerful, complete ballstriker who primarily plays a cut. Said Scodro: "Now my game is in great position to take it to the next level." The Irish certainly hope that means the NCAA Championship, and beyond.
Junior men's basketball forward Jack Cooley (Glenview, Ill.) has been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week after registering back-to-back double-doubles for Notre Dame in wins last week against West Virginia and DePaul. He averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds to earn his first career player-of-the-week honor. Cooley, who is averaging 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds this season, had previously been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on four occasions ... In Notre Dame's 55-51 win over the Mountaineers in Morgantown, Cooley played 33 minutes and scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds ... Against the Blue Demons, he matched his career best with 22 points and also grabbed 14 rebounds ... In addition, he equaled his career high with four blocked shots ... He leads the Irish with eight double-doubles that includes six in BIG EAST play. Jay Bilas' "Bilas Index" this week on ESPN.com has Notre Dame rated 45th nationally. The Irish men's team made the polls this week for the first time this season--23rd by AP and 25th by ESPN/USA Today. CBSSports.com's Top 25 (and one) poll had the Irish rated 18th this week. SI.com's Seth Davis lists the Irish 21st this week. Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Bracketology this week projects Notre Dame as a #7 NCAA seed playing #10 Purdue in Greensboro. Another projected bracket on CBSSports.com by Jerry Palm (before the DePaul game) had the Irish at a #8 NCAA seed playing #9 Illinois in Louisville. The Notre Dame Bengal Bouts--the University's 82nd club boxing event--continues with quarterfinals Feb. 22 (6 p.m.), semifinals Feb. 28 (6 p.m.) and finals March 3 (7 p.m.). All proceeds benefit the Holy Cross Missions of Bangladesh. The Notre Dame men's golf team advanced into the semifinals at The Match Play, earning wins over Loyola Chicago and Villanova Monday at the Reunion Resort Watson Course in Orlando, Fla. The Irish took down the Ramblers 5.5-0.5 in the opening roundbefore defeating the Wildcats 4.0-2.0 in quarterfinal action. Seniors Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) and Tom Usher (Baildon, England) as well as sophomore Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and freshman Tyler Wingo (Fairfax, Va.) paced the Irish through their opening two matches, winning each of their respective contests to notch the maximum two points on the day...
- Linebacker Manti Te'o was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday ... the Bednarik Award is presented to college football's best defensive player ... Te'o leads the Irish with 82 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks ... he has already set career highs this year in tackles for loss and sacks ... Te'o has recorded at least 10 tackles in six of eight games this year and he leads the Irish in solo tackles, assisted tackles and tackles on running plays ... among all middle or inside linebackers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Te'o ranks tied for first in solo tackles for loss, tied for first in solo sacks, second in total sacks,second in total tackles for loss, second in tackles for loss per game and third in sacks per game. - The LSU-Alabama game this weekend has prompted lots of revisiting of previous No. 1 vs. No. 2 college games ... SI.com's Richard Rothschild rated the best previous regular-season collisions based on quality of the game, impact on the season and long-term ramifications - and he put 1946 Notre Dame-Army 10th on his list, 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State sixth and 1993 Notre Dame-Florida State fifth. - Through eight games, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees has completed 179 passes for an average of 22.375 per game ... if Rees continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games, Rees would finish with 291 completions - one short of Brady Quinn's Notre Dame single-season record of 292 from 2005 ... Rees has played only about the equivalent of one full season, but his career .641 pass completion percentage is the best in Notre Dame history ... he needs one more TD pass to match (1943 Heisman Trophy winner) Angelo Bertelli's career total and four more to catch Joe Theismann at 31. - Michael Floyd ranks second nationally among active players in career pass receptions and career reception yards ... through eight games he has caught 63 balls - for an average of 7.875 per game ... if he continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games he would finish with 102 catches (which would easily eclipse Golden Tate's Irish single-season record of 93 from 2009) ... Floyd currently has 1,025 receiving yards (128.125 per game) - which would project to 1,665 over 13 games (better than Tate's single-season Notre Dame record of 1,496 from 2009). - Saturday is the seventh annual National College Football Day, originally created by the Cotton Bowl Classic. - Anders Lee has been selected as the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for October ... the 6-3, 227-pound left wing has helped the fourth-ranked Irish get off to a strong 5-2 start this season as he has scored at least one goal in all seven games, with a two-goal effort and a hat trick thrown in for good measure ... after seven contests, Lee leads both the conference and the nation with 10 goals and has added three assists for 13 points.
- Melissa Henderson scored in the ninth minute off a pinpoint service by junior defender Jazmin Hall and Notre Dame used a stellar defensive performance to defeat No. 5/9 Marquette, 1-0, in a BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinal women's soccer match on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Valley Fields in Milwaukee ... Henderson's goal -- her career high-tying 18th of the season, and 70th of her brilliant career, as well as a school-record 24th career match-winning goal -- lifted the Fighting Irish into the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the 15th time in Notre Dame's 17 years as a conference member ... the Fighting Irish will square off with BIG EAST National Division champion Louisville in a tournament semifinal match at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday in Morgantown, W.Va., with CBS Sports Network televising the contest live from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. - Less than 24 hours after an exhausting five-set defeat at Connecticut, Notre Dame recovered to down host St. John's, 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-22, 25-20) in BIG EAST Conference volleyball action Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. ... with its fourth straight win in the 19-match series with the Red Storm, Notre Dame concluded its recent road escapades that spanned 11,309 miles in the air and on the road since Oct. 8 ... coming through with a second straight double-double - and her sixth of the season - was Kristen Dealy, who led the Irish with 15 kills (.378) ... Dealy also had 11 digs and a pair of blocks. - The men's soccer team closes its regular season at noon (ET) today at Alumni Stadium against Seton Hall - and the Irish are hoping a win in that one would translate into a home play-in game Thursday in the BIG EAST Championships. - The men's golf team closes its fall season today at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas. - Notre Dame's basketball teams kick off their seasons with exhibition games this week - the men at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tonight against St. Xavier and the #2-rated (AP) women at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Windsor (Ontario) ... both games are at Purcell Pavilion. - District Academic All-America ballots feature five Irish women's soccer players, four football players and two men's soccer players.