AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote. Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship. Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help. "I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said. After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities. On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street. Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life. "I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way." Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend. "It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said. Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame. "When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."
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When you consider all the technology available today, it's downright amazing to think how archaic athletic communications were just a few short years ago. Need the latest University of Notre Dame football statistics? They'd be calculated and typed by hand on a manual typewriter (eventually the "big innovation" IBM Selectric typewriter came along), reproduced and mailed on Sunday nights and maybe you'd receive them via ordinary mail by Thursday. Need them quicker than that? The hit commodity in technology in the 1970s was the Xerox Telecopier (a facsimile machine) that required either four or six minutes (depending on how clear you wanted the type to read) to send a single page of copy to another Telecopier on the other end. If a media representative out of town needed your entire news release, depth chart and stats, it might take an hour or more to send it all. Breaking news happening on one of the Irish athletic fields? There was no simple way to communicate it. Pick up the telephone and dictate. Call media outlets one at a time to alert them about a hiring or press conference. Three technology advances changed everything in the sports information world everywhere - cell phones, the Internet and e-mail. For years the joke around the Notre Dame athletic offices was that the Irish quarterback on a given day might break his leg and - given that practices were closed to the media - there was some chance no one would find out until the next day. There was no texting, no Facebook - maybe no way for the word to get out other than old-fashioned word of mouth. The World Wide Web prompted the offering of athletic sites like und.com that debuted in 1995. In the beginning sites like Notre Dame's offered strictly the basics - mostly what was available via traditional press releases. There was no video in the "early days," and media members weren't yet routinely carrying computers or laptops. So, quite often, the plea to media to utilize school sites for time-sensitive items like statistics went unheeded. About that same time, cell phones changed the face of telecommunications. When current athletics staffers consider all the detailed scheduling and adjustments that go into, for example, a weeklong stay for a postseason bowl game, it's hard to imagine how those events ever occurred without cell phones. The Orange Bowl provided some new contraption-style portable phones to Notre Dame reps one year, but they looked more like walkie-talkies than the current variety and they didn't exactly fit in your pocket.
- The Hockey East Association and Notre Dame announced today that the Fighting Irish have been accepted into the league as the 11th member school and will begin hockey play in the 2013-14 campaign ... the announcement came at a press conference on the ice at Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena ... in making the announcement, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said, "It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference. The addition of new institutions is always exciting but Notre Dame brings a unique set of qualities and circumstances to the continued growth of our league. We are proud to welcome Notre Dame into the fold and we look forward to getting to the many details that come with this announcement." ... Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said, "We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were the critical issues of the student-athlete experience and Notre Dame's fit with the other schools in the conference. But of special importance in this instance, was our goal of giving our hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group. Athletics at Notre Dame has always served as a platform for promoting the University." ... Irish head coach Jeff Jackson added, "We are honored and pleased to join Hockey East for the 2013-14 season. The conference is an established league with a great tradition and outstanding programs that share Notre Dame's values. The exposure for our players and team in a major media and NHL market will be second to none. Hockey East's commitment to playing a smaller league schedule will allow us to enhance our home and non-conference schedule with traditional western and Big Ten rivals. This will allow us to bring great games to the Compton Family Ice Arena and create a more diverse, nationally-televised schedule. We are grateful to Joe Bertagna and the Hockey East Association members for this tremendous opportunity." - Notre Dame already has sold out its allotment of women's basketball season tickets in Purcell Pavilion for the 2011-12 season ... a limited number of single-game tickets go on sale next week, with season-ticket holders having first shot at those. - Speaking of tickets, hockey tickets are a hot-enough item in the new Compton Family Ice Arena that a number of Irish home games already feature only stand-room availability. - There are three former Irish players alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs - John Axford and Craig Counsell with the Milwaukee Brewers and Brad Lidge with the Philadelphia Phillies. - As the Dan Devine sculpture dedication looms on Friday afternoon, consider some of the assistant coaches who worked under Devine: * The late Jim Johnson, who became a highly-successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and also coached with Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis and Seattle * Jim Gruden, later a longtime NFL scout and father of Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden * Merv Johnson, who went on to become offensive coordinator for 20 seasons at Oklahoma. * Greg Blache, who became a successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears * Hank Kuhlmann who went on to coach in Green Bay and Tampa Bay and briefly served as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1989 * Johnny Roland who coached with Arizona, New Orleans, Green Bay, Philadelphia, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Chicago in the NFL * Bill Meyers who coached with Pittsburgh and the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL * Francis Peay, later the head coach at Northwestern * Gene Smith, now the athletics director at Ohio State * Ron Toman, later an NFL Indianapolis Colts assistant * Longtime Irish assistants Joe Yonto and Brian Boulac - The men's golf team climbed to 20th in this week's (Oct. 5-11) Golfstat rankings ... it marks the first time since October of 2005 that the Irish have been ranked in the Golfstat polls .. in addition to finding themselves within the top 25 of the Golfstat rankings, the Irish also debuted at 28th in the first Golfweek/Sagarin rankings of the 2011-12 season, which was released Sunday. - Men's golfer Max Scodro has been tabbed BIG EAST Men's Golfer of the Month for September ... the Irish senior notched three top-15 results during the month while finishing as the top Notre Dame golfer at each of the three events ... entering his final campaign with the Irish, Scodro sat third in career stroke average (minimum 35 rounds played) at 73.99 and after a three-tournament September slate that saw him finish fourth, tied for sixth and tied for 11th, Scodro has moved into second on that prestigious list with a73.80 average. - The BIG EAST and Big Ten conferences have announced the pairings for the 2012 Big Ten-BIG EAST Baseball Challenge, hosted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission ... the fourth annual event begins Feb. 17 and will feature a 24-game schedule spanning three days and five venues in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area ... Notre Dame opens the event against Illinois and return to action with games against Iowa and Purdue throughout the weekend.
- No. 20/24 Notre Dame put together a pair of stirring second-half comebacks to force overtime, but No. 14/15 Marquette scored the match-winner 18 seconds into the extra session, defeating the Fighting Irish, 3-2 in BIG EAST Conference cross-divisional women's soccer action on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Valley Fields in Milwaukee. - Notre Dame stumbled out of the gate and never fully recovered during Sunday's BIG EAST Conference volleyball match with Villanova ... while hitting .094 with 11service errors, Notre Dame fell to the Wildcats, 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-19, 25-19) during the nationally televised contest on ESPNU with 1,337 fans on hand to watch at Purcell Pavilion. - Here are some of Brian Kelly's comments from Sunday's media teleconference: "Tommy (Rees) is 6-1 as a starter. He's led two very huge drives for us late in the games against Michigan and Pittsburgh. He's obviously not a finished product yet, nobody is. He'll continue to get better and better and we'll continue to help him in terms of play-calling and getting him in the right kind of situation so he can be successful." "We felt our recruiting efforts and everything we have done since we have been here is to put together a championship defense and then we'll catch up on offense. I think you have to start with building your defense first and the line of scrimmage. We are not there yet but we are on the right road." - Looking for a key matchup this week in the Notre Dame-Purdue football game? It's Notre Dame's rushing defense (ranked 25th nationally and allowing 93 yards a game) against Purdue's rushing attack that's rated 11th nationally at 258.67 yards per contest. - Michael Floyd is now eighth nationally in receptions at 8.75 per game. - The Irish football squad has outgained all four opponents in first-period total yardage, amassing a combined 464-156 edge. - Notre Dame's defense now has permitted only two opponent rushing scores over its last nine combined games - and both those were one-yard quarterback sneaks.
- The men's golf team concluded the Gopher Invitational in third place after firing a final round 307 (+19) at Spring Hill Golf Course in Wayzata, Minn. ... individually, Max Scodro led the way for the Irish after posting a 219 (+3) score ... the Irish entered Monday's final round holding a four-shot advantage over Arkansas, but could not hold on to the lead as the Razorbacks rode a final round 299 (+11) to secure the title at 16-over par (880) for the three rounds.
- Four traditional home indoor meets highlight a 24-meet indoor and outdoor track and field schedule that head coach Joe Piane released recently ... the Meyo Track plays host to four meets during the indoor season including the Blue & Gold Invitational (Dec. 2), Notre Dame Invitational (Jan. 21), Meyo Invitational (Feb. 3-4) and Alex Wilson Invitational (March 2-3) ... the Meyo Invitational, including the famous Meyo Mile race, will be held for the 26th time ... the BIG EAST Indoor Championships are scheduled for Feb. 18-19 in New York, N.Y. ... the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships will be hosted by South Florida May 4-6 in Tampa, Fla.
- Head coach Tim Welsh recently announced the release of the men's swimming and diving 2011-12 schedule following an extremely beneficial and successful summer for the program ... the season's rather traditional schedule begins Oct. 14 with the 47th edition of the Dennis Stark Relays at the on-campus Rolfs Aquatic Center ... the first half of the schedule comes to an end when Irish student-athletes will compete at the USA Winter Nationals (Dec. 1-3), Iowa Invitational (Dec. 2-4) and Ohio State Invitational (Dec. 2-4) ... this year's BIG EAST Championships will be held at Pittsburgh's Trees Pool ... the diving portion spans from Feb. 10-12 and the swimming events take place from Feb. 15-18.
- Head softball coach Deanna Gumpf announced the upcoming fall and spring schedules for the Fighting Irish, which includes 15 home dates at Melissa Cook Stadium for the 2012 campaign ... in addition, Notre Dame will play host to the BIG EAST Conference Championship for the first time since 2007 ... Notre Dame also hosted the league championship in 1998, 2005 and 2006.
- Two members of the women's lacrosse team - Meredith Locasto and Kelly Driscoll - have been selected to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) academic honor roll for the 2011 campaign ... the two Irish players were among a group of 187 Division I women's lacrosse juniors and seniors with 3.5 grade-point averages or better or ranked in the top 10 percent of their team to be honored by the coaches' association ... the Notre Dame team also was among 56 Division I institutions to earn Academic Squad honors ... as a team, the Notre Dame had a 3.238 grade-point average ... Locasto graduated summa cum laude with a degree in accountancy from the prestigious Mendoza College of Business following her junior year, earning the top grade-point average among all Irish women's lacrosse juniors and seniors with a 3.967 grade-point average for the 2009-10 school year ... Locasto completed her master's of science with a 3.856 GPA.
- The Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game will feature a pre-game flyover by two USAF A-10Cs ... the national colors will be presented by Richard A. Nussbaum II, president of the Notre Dame Monogram Club, an attorney in South Bend and a member of the University's Board of Trustees ... he will be accompanied by his wife, Mary Pat ... they will be joined by three members of the women's basketball team who led the United States to the gold medal this summer in the World University Games - Devereaux Peters, Natalie Novosel and Skylar Diggins ... just before kickoff more than 80 representatives of the 1966 Notre Dame national championship football team will be introduced as they return for their 45th reunion ... at halftime the women's basketball team will be recognized for its 2011 NCAA runner-up finish, as will head coach Muffet McGraw for her 2011 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
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