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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Following a particular college or university is a pastime for all sports fans as they go through their stages of adolescence. Whether it be where their parents went, where they live or just an obsession with a particular team for no apparent reason, all fans share random, common bonds with people who may be miles away. As a child I grew up watching the 'Old Ball Coach' roam the sidelines for the Florida Gators (dad's alma mater), Tom Coverdale run the point for the Indiana Hoosiers (childhood team) and Autry Denson and Jarious Jackson run the option for the Irish (location). As I got older, the times and games I remembered turned in to moments in which to this day I have not forgotten. Moments are what make us as sports fans keep coming back for more, albeit there were just over 28,000 paying customers in attendance at Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle's perfect game in 2009, as time goes by there will be 100,000 people claiming they were at Comiskey Park (I have and always will call it by this name) that day. I am not a fan of this particular Chicago area sports team, yet I will always remember where I was and whom I was with when this great moment took place. I have many great and historic moments that I remember from the past 20-some years I have been a fan of Notre Dame. I have recollections that I would rather forget (Jackson's safety against LSU in 1998 in which he hurt his ankle and was out the following week) and those in which I wish I could relive over and over (Notre Dame women's basketball team taking down #1 UConn in 2001 at the Joyce en route to the program's first NCAA title). For both of those games, I remember where I was (Jackson's injury - celebrating Thanksgiving in Indianapolis, women's basketball vs. UConn - at game behind basket in first row). This past athletic season had a fair share of 'Notre Dame Moments' in which I was able to witness; here are my top five ...
5. Frank Dyer, The All-American GuyIn the 53 years of men's swimming at Notre Dame, the Irish have accomplished a lot - five BIG EAST Championships, five BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors and over 50 all-BIG EAST honorees - yet they had never had any swimmer garner national All-American recognition, until Frank Dyer's swim in Federal Way, Wash., this past season. Dyer had been training all year long for the opportunity to make his mark in Notre Dame swimming lore. On a Friday evening in late March, he got his opportunity. As he stepped upon the blocks in the 200 freestyle finals, Dyer had the weight of the entire program on his back and he didn't disappoint. The gun went off and just one minute and 34 seconds later, Notre Dame had its first All-American, Frank Dyer.
NCAA Men's Swimming Championships
March 24, 2012
4. Freeby Calls Bull's ShotIt may not have been George Herman Ruth calling his shot or even Jake Taylor, but Notre Dame baseball radio announcer Chuck Freeby opined between innings on the broadcast that the Irish would defeat the Panthers in the bottom half of the ninth inning on a home run from freshman Ryan Bull. What happened next was truly amazing as Bull hit his first career home run at the exact time in which Freeby 'called it.'
Baseball vs. Pittsburgh
March 23, 2012
3. Squeezing The OrangeOn a cold January day, the Irish, with a record of 11-8, welcomed the undefeated Syracuse Orange into Purcell Pavilion for a BIG EAST conference clash. As the game wore on, Notre Dame played more like the Harlem Globetrotters to Syracuse's Washington Generals. Building a lead as big as 18 points, the Irish went on to win 67-58 in front of a sold-out crowd. This was the eighth time that the men's basketball program had knocked off the top-ranked team in the AP poll in its history.
Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse
January 21, 2012
2. Big Shot BrittIn the fourth meeting on the season between the two squads, the teams went back and forth throughout much of the game. The Irish squandered a five-point lead late to find themselves down two with just under-10 seconds to play when Skylar Diggins drove the length of the court and put up a runner in the lane, the attempt would miss and fall in the hands of senior Natalie Novosel. After gathering the rebound, Novosel put the ball up on a reverse lay-up, to see the ball drop with just a few seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime. The Irish found themselves down, three, early in overtime. That's when senior Brittany Mallory, who was shooting 1-11 in NCAA Championship play prior, was found in the corner for an open three, which she calmly drained. After a rebound on the defensive end, Diggins quickly pushed the ball up the court and again found Mallory on the wing for another trey. The clutch play from their scrappy, sharpshooting senior would catapult the Irish to their second NCAA Championship game in as many years.
Women's Basketball vs. Connecticut
April 1, 2012
1. The Dedication Game (Holy War on Ice)Taking part on the Friday night before their respective football teams clashed in the 'Holy War' on the gridiron, the hockey squads took to the ice for the 'Dedication Game' of the 50-million dollar Compton Family Ice Arena. The sold-out crowd of 5,022 was treated to one of my favorite moments of my time at Notre Dame as the longtime tenor for the Chicago Blackhawks, Jim Cornelison (an Indiana University graduate), bellowed the National Anthem and kicked off a night full of moments. This 'Notre Dame Moment' looked like something right out of the third Mighty Ducks when Bryan Rust capped off the game with a sudden-death victory goal with just 1.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Irish the 3-2 win.
Hockey vs. Boston College
November 18, 2011
These are just a few of the great Irish athletics moments from the past year. Every particular moment has its key players - Ryan Bull, Brittany Mallory, Frank Dyer - but the big question in sports has always been, "how will history remember you?" I'm sorry to say to all the athletes out there, it's not always your full athletic body of work that gets you remembered, sometimes it's just that one 'moment' where everything seems to come together and 20 years from now everyone is still talking about it, and all of Irish nation claims to have been there in person. As the ghost of George Herman (Babe) Ruth told Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, "Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die." - Aaron Horvath
With the winter sports wrapping up and the spring seasons getting underway, it was a good weekend for the Notre Dame athletic department, as several programs picked up big wins and two captured BIG EAST championships. Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's top performances: Baseball opened the season in Florida, winning its first two games in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. On Friday, the Irish won a 13-12 slugfest against Illinois, led by junior catcher Joe Hudson's 3-for-4, two home run, four RBI afternoon. Saturday was a different story, as junior Adam Norton went the distance on the mound. The righty held Iowa to just two runs over nine innings to register his first complete game victory. The ninth-ranked men's lacrosse team kicked off Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 upset of #2 Duke. After falling behind 2-0, head coach Kevin Corrigan's squad scored seven straight goals to win its tenth straight season-opener. Senior midfielder Max Pfeifer and sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt led the Fighting Irish with two goals apiece. In the pool, the men's swimming & diving team earned its fifth BIG EAST title. The Irish totaled 887 points, topping two-time defending champion Louisville (859.5) and host school Pittsburgh (520). Junior Bill Bass was named the meet's Most Outstanding Swimmer, and head coach Tim Welsh was named Swimming Coach of the Year. Last week, freshman Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie was selected as Diving Coach of the Year, so Saturday's awards gave Notre Dame a sweep of the conference postseason trophies. At about 10 pm ET on Saturday, it looked like the men's basketball team's seven-game winning streak was destined to end in Philadelphia. Head coach Mike Brey's Fighting Irish trailed Villanova by 16 points at halftime, but the Irish rallied, thanks in part to Pat Connaughton's big night behind the arc. The freshman knocked down seven three-pointers, leading the improbable comeback and 74-70 overtime win to keep the winning streak alive. The women's lacrosse team kicked off a new era on Sunday afternoon with a 17-14 victory over Stanford. Sophomore Lindsay Powell netted five goals, while junior Jaimie Morrison chipped in four and senior tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis tallied six assists, to lift new head coach Christine Halfpenny to a win in her first game with the Irish. In the Big Apple, the men's track & field team hoisted its fifth BIG EAST Championship trophy, totaling 131 points at New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, to hold off second-place Connecticut (103 points). The Irish were led by Kevin Schipper's third consecutive BIG EAST Indoor pole vault title, and Patrick Feeney (400m) and Jeremy Rae's (Mile) victories on the track. The fourth-ranked women's basketball team will look to finish off a strong weekend for the Notre Dame athletic program at 2 pm ET this afternoon on ESPN against #16 Louisville. - Josh Flynt ('11)
It was a big weekend in the pool for Notre Dame freshman Nick Nemetz. The Ann Arbor, Mich. native took home a pair of titles at the BIG EAST Conference Diving Championships, winning the 1-meter and 3-meter events at the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool. Nemetz won his first career collegiate title on Friday evening, by posting a 325.15 in the 3-meter event. He became the third consecutive Irish diver to win the event, following on the heels of Nathan Geary in 2011 and Wes Villafor in 2010. Nemetz also became the first freshman diver in Notre Dame history to win a league title. But Friday was just the beginning. Nemetz followed up his impressive 3-meter performance by winning the 1-meter event on Saturday. He scored 322.30 points and became the second Notre Dame diver to sweep the pair of events at the BIG EAST Championships (a feat that Villafor accomplished in 2010). Irish diving coach Caiming Xie was also named BIG EAST Men's Diving Coach of the Year. The event resumes on Wednesday, when the swimmers hit the pool in the Steel City. With 129 points, the Notre Dame men's team currently holds a comfortable lead over second-place Pittsburgh (72 points) and third-place West Virginia (46 points). - Josh Flynt ('11)
Winston Churchill. Pee-wee Herman. Charlie Chaplin. Louis Farrakhan. Krusty the Clown. There have been only a few powerful figures in American history who have had the courage and fashion savvy to rock the bow tie. We can now add Colin Babcock to that list. The man has swag for days and swim strokes for weeks. - @NDsidJorge The Observer - After a wild ride with the University's Admissions Office, sophomore swimmer Colin Babcock distinctly remembers how it felt to be accepted to Notre Dame. Babcock grew up in a house divided between Louisiana State and Notre Dame athletics. The product of Saint Paul's High School in New Orleans, La., Babcock's uncles were constantly in his ear about the possibility of one day attending their alma mater and competing for the Irish. During his senior year of high school, Babcock visited Louisiana State, William & Mary, and Notre Dame. Following his visit to South Bend, he said his decision was a no-brainer, provided that he was accepted to the University. "I was basically raised to go to this school," he said. "It was ranked the No. 1 business school in the country, and who doesn't love Notre Dame?" When he spoke with the Notre Dame Admissions Office in April of his senior year, however, Babcock was informed that he had not been accepted to the school he had dreamed of attending for as long as he could remember. "I took all the Notre Dame stuff off the wall. I kind of made a burn pile and I might have punched a hole in my wall, I can't remember," he said. Just five hours later, Babcock received a phone call from Irish associate head coach Matt Tallman. Admissions had placed the Irish recruit on the list of rejections by mistake. "I couldn't speak. I was stammering on the phone," Babcock said. "It was an awesome feeling. It was kind of like, 'Alright I guess I'll put [the posters] back up on the wall.'" Babcock said he was attracted to Notre Dame in part because of his Catholic faith. Attending Basilica Mass as often as possible, he said his relationship with God plays a huge role in his everyday life. "Sometimes when I'm really feeling down, [I think] I'm here for a reason. I wouldn't have had such a weird experience with getting in if I wasn't supposed to be here," he said. "It's really strenuous like finals week and exams, it's like, 'This is really stressful. I can't handle it.' I believe that God would tell me, 'I'm putting you here for a reason. You can handle it.'" An exceptional role model for the team's 16 freshmen, Babcock's passion for Irish sports became evident at an Irish volleyball match several months ago. "The first match, I think the girls lost, so we were like, 'We've got to pump these girls up,'" he said. "We ran to [our] locker room and put on our speedos. We put on eight articles of clothing. Every time the team scored three times, we took off an article of clothing. When it got to the end, the 25th [point], we ended up in our speedos and just ran around the court." Babcock said he is confident that his plan ultimately affected the outcome of the match. "I'd like to say we're the reason that they won," he said. "I don't know if they'll admit that, but I'd like to think we got an assist for that." Aside from providing entertainment at volleyball matches, Babcock said he hopes to impact the lives of those he meets during his time at Notre Dame. "[By my senior year] I would like to have made a difference," he said. "I would like to leave here knowing that either I changed the school or my team, my dorm in a positive way. I'd like to say I did something." Last year, Babcock was a recipient of the Beeler-Hipp Award, which is presented annually to the freshman who best demonstrates vitality, competitiveness and love for Notre Dame. The award is named in honor of former Irish swimmers Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, two freshmen who died in a bus accident Jan. 24, 1992. "What all my coaches seem to have taught me is that you get out what you put in. Basically, whatever you want to do, you can do," Babcock said. "I try to set the pace in every practice. I'm a fun-loving guy outside the pool, [but] I try to work as hard as I can every time I enter the pool."
The Notre Dame swimming community came together last night - and shared stories, smiles, hugs and tears - at a Mass of Remembrance on the 20th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame women's swimming team bus accident. Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., presided, and its president emeritus, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., delivered the homily at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Shortly after midnight on Jan. 24, 1992, in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, a bus bringing the Irish women's swimming team back to campus from a meet at Northwestern University slid off the Indiana Toll Road and rolled over. Meghan Beeler from Granger,Ind., and Colleen Hipp from St. Louis, both freshmen, lost their lives in the accident. Most of the other swimmers, coaches and staff were injured, including Haley Scott, also a freshman, who was paralyzed for more than a week. Some 18 hours after the accident, Father Malloy presided at a Mass in the Basilica for the Notre Dame community to mourn and pray. The Mass on Tuesday was in memory of Meghan and Colleen, in thanksgiving for healing, and in appreciation to members of the Notre Dame and South Bend communities who responded at the time of the accident and beyond. Father Malloy talked about being in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., when he received a call with details of the accident. He flew back to campus the next morning and immediately was driven to the crash site alongside the Toll Road, where he remembered seeing personal belongings strewn by the roadside. The current Irish women's swimming team attended last night, all wearing their long blue winter parkas with Notre Dame on the back that became so familiar in conjunction with the tragedy 20 years ago.
For those who will be around Notre Dame this weekend, prepare for the craziness that's about to hit campus. Over a 48-hour period from Friday through Sunday evening, there are eleven varsity athletic events scheduled at the university. Here's a quick look at the schedule: Friday:
Men's Tennis vs. William & Mary at 6 p.m.
Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) Saturday:
Indoor Track Notre Dame Invitational at 10 a.m.
Women's Basketball vs. Villanova at 1 p.m. (UND.com)
Women's Tennis vs. Cincinnati at 1 p.m.
Women's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
Men's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse at 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (CBS Sports Network) Sunday:
Women's Tennis vs. Missouri at 11 a.m.
Women's Tennis vs. IPFW at 5 p.m. There won't be any tailgating, Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches or team walk to the stadium, but the amount of traffic on campus might make it feel more like a football Saturday than a mid-winter weekend.
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