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San Antonio Express-News - The name doesn't always ring a bell anymore, let alone the face. Still, it's a bit of a surprise when the man wearing a Hawaiian-style Notre Dame shirt strolls into the crowded sports bar at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, and no one seems to notice. But Nils Rockne, now a San Antonio resident, doesn't mind in the least. "I'm happy just being one of the guys," he said. That's not always possible, however. Not when you're the grandson of the greatest college football coach of all time. Not when you bear a striking resemblance to one of the most iconic figures in all of sports. Knute Rockne coached 13 seasons at Notre Dame, winning six national championships. Five of his teams went undefeated. His .881 winning percentage (105-12-5) is still the gold standard for college football coaches. In 1931, Rockne died at age 43 in a plane crash in a Kansas wheat field, and since then, his name has been elevated to mythical proportions, popularized by newsreels, books and, of course, Hollywood. Nils Rockne said he has seen the movie, "Knute Rockne: All-American," about 15 times. He keeps it at the ready whenever friends or family stop by his North Side home. The name Knute Rockne, he concedes, sadly is losing its power with each succeeding generation. But not with him. "I've always been very proud of what my grandfather was able to accomplish in a very short lifespan," Nils Rockne said. "I've been able to appreciate it more the older I get."
Washington Post - A dozen small children sat in a semi-circle on the floor of the Lovettsville Library on a rainy afternoon last week, their eyes riveted on author Cara Coleman and her 6-year-old daughter, Justice. "'I have a disability. It does not make me a scary monster,'" Coleman read. She paused to ask the group, "What does 'disability' mean?" A little girl in a red shirt answered eagerly: "Not able to do something!" Coleman lifted the book in her hands so the group could see, and pointed to a word on the page: 'DisAbility,' with the 'a' capitalized. "I did that because I want you to focus on the word 'ability,'" Coleman said. "Because Justice can do a lot of things." Coleman and Justice have presented Coleman's book, "I Am Justice, Hear Me Roar!" at schools and libraries across Loudoun County and other parts of Northern Virginia over the past several months. They have the routine down: Coleman reads the book and encourages the young audience members to ask questions. Justice sits beside Coleman in her wheelchair. Sometimes she murmurs or squeals when her mother reads a favorite part of the story. Justice was born with multiple disabilities, one of which is agenesis of the corpus callosum - meaning the structure that connects the two hemispheres of her brain is missing. She does not walk or talk, and she uses a feeding tube. But despite her limitations, "she is an absolute joy," Coleman said. "She is just about one of the happiest kids ever. That's one of the things I try to teach the kids. Yes, she's not saying words like we are, but she can very clearly communicate." When Coleman read a passage about how Justice sometimes doesn't like taking a bath or going to bed, Justice twisted her body toward her mother and let out a sing-song cry. "See, she's complaining," Coleman said, and the kids giggled. The pair appeared at Lovettsville Library as part of a reading series to celebrate October's disability awareness month. But Coleman said she hopes the book raises "kid awareness" rather than disability awareness. "I don't want kids or adults to be afraid of Justice and her different abilities," Coleman explained. "They are a part of her, but there are much bigger and better parts of her that make her a kid just like any other kid."
The Observer - Tomorrow, thousands of students are encouraged to raise their arms in an "X" as a symbol of unity, strength and remembrance. The "X" will honor Xavier Murphy, a fifth-year student and former resident of Zahm Hall who died Oct. 11 after a short battle with cancer. Tomorrow would have been his 23rd birthday. Senior Daniel Duffey, a resident assistant in Zahm and friend of Murphy's, said the unified "X" is the perfect way to honor Murphy. "Doing [the 'X'] for him is just a further symbol of exactly who he was. It represents him, the dorm and our community standing together," Duffey said. "Normally ... everyone hates us for it, but this time it obviously means something more." Corry Colonna, rector of Zahm Hall, said the Raise an X for X campaign began when Murphy was first diagnosed with leukemia in September. "We started this process before he had passed away," Colonna said. "The goal was he would be able to see us. He was watching the football games from Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. Our hope was ... he would see a number of people with their hands up in the air for him." But for Murphy's family and friends, tomorrow's "X" will hold a different significance. "One of the first questions the guys asked [after Xavier passed] is, 'Are we going to move forward with this?'" Colonna said. "Mrs. Murphy called me that evening and I asked her. She said, 'Now he'll see it from heaven. Go ahead - sounds like a great idea'". Colonna said after hearing the news of Murphy's passing, the Zahm community immediately came together to make Raise an X for X a reality. "I will admit that in a time of such great loss, there is a sense of helplessness," he said. "[The campaign] gave us some purpose, some way of channeling that grief. We moved forward, got more cosponsors after Xavier's passing [and] we got the cheerleaders and leprechaun onboard." Colonna then met with members of the football team's administration to figure out the logistics of Saturday's event.
- There will be a contingent of Dublin media attending the Notre Dame-Navy football game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium - in advance of the Notre Dame-Navy game that will kick off the 2012 season next September in Dublin, Ireland. - The pep rallies prior to the Notre Dame-Navy (Oct. 28) and Notre Dame-Boston College games (Nov. 18) will be held at Purcell Pavilion ... doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the Irish football squad enters at 6:30 p.m. ... there are no tickets required. - A contingent of Notre Dame administrators traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday and met with FedExField officials at the stadium - in addition to meeting at St. Matthew's Cathedral and at the National Mall and the Capitol Lawn, sites of the Mass, pep rally and band concerts, respectively, when the Irish play Maryland Nov. 12. - For the second time this season (and fourth time in her career), Melissa Henderson has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Week ... in addition, Henderson was named to the Top Drawer Soccer and Our Game Magazine national teams of the week ... Henderson turned in one of the top single-match performances in the 24-year history of the Notre Dame women's soccer program during last Friday's 5-1 Senior Night victory over DePaul at Alumni Stadium ... the All-America striker and Hermann Trophy candidate tied a school record with four goals in the match (including two in a 58-second span midway through the second half) on the way to tying no fewer than seven school records ... Henderson also became the first BIG EAST player in more than 13 years to score four goals in a regular-season conference match, a feat last accomplished on Oct. 16, 1998, by former Seton Hall All-American and England National Team star Kelly Smith in a win over Pittsburgh. - Frank Dyer started the 2011-12 season with a fast stroke and has been named the BIG EAST Conference Athlete of the Week for men's swimming and diving ... Dyer posted a pair of individual victories while competing against Texas Christian, Oakland and Michigan in dual meet action ... his NCAA B-cut 200 freestyle time performance of 1:37.92 was the nation's fastest at the time of the race and currently ranks second ... Dyer is fourth among all NCAA performers in the 100 freestyle (44.57). - The University of Notre Dame has established an endowed scholarship in memory of Declan Sullivan, the Notre Dame junior who died a year ago today (Oct. 27) when the aerial lift on which he was videotaping football practice fell in high winds ... in conjunction with the anniversary, Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is writing to members of the Notre Dame family, inviting them to contribute to the scholarship fund and/or to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund that has been established by his family ... contributions to the family's memorial fund will be used to support those causes about which Declan would be most enthusiastic, in particular, Horizons for Youth, a Chicago organization committed to helping children graduate high school by providing need-based scholarships, a summer program, one-on-one mentoring, enrichment outings, tutoring, and college preparation ... the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Scholarship at Notre Dame will assist students who are not only in financial need, but who also have demonstrated the traits that made Declan original, whether through a particular interest in filmmaking, service to under-privileged youth, creative writing, or other passions. - The 14th-ranked men's soccer team notched its third straight victory with a 2-1 win over Providence on Wednesday afternoon at Glay Field in Providence, R.I. ... all three of the victories have come on the road ... Notre Dame opened the scoring in the 10th minute as senior midfielder Brendan King sent his shot into the lower-left corner of the net from 12 yards out after a give-and-go with sophomore forward Leon Brown ... the Fighting Irish led 1-0 at halftime ... Harrison Shipp gave the Irish a 2-0 lead in the 80th minute when he scored from eight yards away off a cross from senior defender Greg Klazura.
Yesterday, the NCAA released Graduation Success Rates for Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Of those 120 institutions, Notre Dame achieved the best marks, with 18 of 22 Irish athletic teams achieving 100 GSR scores. Notre Dame was one of only eight institutions to have at least 50 percent of teams achieve perfection. The Notre Dame football team achieved a 97 GSR, the highest among FBS schools. Northwestern, Boston College, Duke, Rice and the U.S. Naval Academy were the only other institutions with at least 90 or higher. In addition, both the men's and women's basketball teams were among the programs with perfect GSR scores. The hockey team achieved a 95 GSR rating, second only to Air Force. This release from the NCAA probably comes as no surprise to most people at Notre Dame. Still, it is news that should make anyone associated with the university and athletic department proud. The university and its rabid fan base, alumni and student body expect to contend for and win championships, and Notre Dame has, in several sports. However, football is king for many people, and a lot of fans won't be satisfied until the Irish are hoisting that crystal ball in January. However, in the age of NCAA sanctions, player suspensions, reduced scholarships and bowl ineligibility, Notre Dame continues to do it the right way. Notre Dame graduates its players. Notre Dame is committed to both academic and athletic excellence. And Notre Dame is not going to sacrifice its core values in the pursuit of titles, trophies and other accolades. At Notre Dame, athletes are not just quarterbacks, forwards, shortstops, jumpers, swimmers and goalies, but future doctors, lawyers and business people, getting the job done in the classroom. They are student-athletes. Most of them will "go pro in something other than sports." It has been quite some time since Notre Dame has even been in the discussion for a football national championship, but the Irish are slowly progressing towards those goals, and will make it back to the BCS conversation. In the meantime, take pride in the fact that Notre Dame represents the good in college sports. - Josh Flynt ('11)
The Monogram Club continues to bring Irish fans the "Monogram Club Musings" following each home football game throughout the 2011 season ... Last weekend, the Monogram Club welcomed a number of high-profile guests back to campus for a home tilt with archrival USC. A plethora of NFL and NBA talent graced the Notre Dame campus and the sideline was sizzling with star power prior to kickoff. In addition, the Club had a strong presence at the 2011 fencing national championship ring ceremony Saturday morning in the Joyce Center. - More than 200 football Monogram winners formed the pregame on-field tunnel for the football team to run through. The annual event is always well received by member. Recently retired Notre Dame Alumni Association executive director Chuck Lennon ('61, '62, baseball) kept the tunnel in order like he does every year with the use of his trusty megaphone. Way to go Chuck! - The first quarter featured two ceremonies celebrating recent Notre Dame national championship teams. The 2010 women's soccer squad and 2011 men's and women's fencing teams made their way onto the field to be honored for their extraordinary achievements. - College Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Tim Brown ('88) was honored during the first timeout of the second quarter for receiving a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. Each year, the Silver Anniversary Awards recognize six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility. In addition to the on-field recognition, Brown had a busy weekend on campus. He riled fans up at Friday's pep rally, before stopping by the Monogram Club's football lounge event to catch up with some former teammates. - The 7:30 p.m. start time represented the first night game in Notre Dame Stadium in 21 years. The last Irish night game at home came on Sept. 15, 1990, against the University of Michigan. - The Irish sported new gold helmets on Saturday that added plenty of sparkle to the clear skies that surrounded Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick ('76) has been frustrated with the color of the helmets over the last couple of seasons and charged Notre Dame football head equipment manager Ryan Grooms with the challenge of getting it right. To hear how the decision was made, click here. - Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has some free time on his hands with the lockout in full swing, so the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year decided to make the most of his weekend by attending a number of Monogram Club events. The Muse spotted Thibodeau chatting it up with some former Irish gridders at Friday's football lounge and at the Club's pregame reception on Saturday. - The Muse always seems to struggle with in-game cell phone reception at Notre Dame Stadium, but didn't have the chance to catch up with Sprint CEO Dan Hesse ('75) on the Irish sideline to see if he had some pointers. - The inaugural Irish Madness to kick off the 2011-12 Notre Dame basketball season certainly brought some star power to Purcell Pavilion on Friday night. Emceed by ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, the event was awesome with a capital 'A', and included appearances by longtime Irish hoops coach Digger Phelps, San Antonio Silver Stars center Ruth Riley ('01) and the current Irish men's and women's basketball squads. The highlight of the night had to be the running commentary from current Irish baller and all-around cool cat Joey Brooks, who had a couple solid quips during the dunk contest. After graduate student Tim Abromaitis and fifth-year senior Scott Martin - the elder statesmen of the team - failed to connect on a number of tag team dunk attempts, Brooks proclaimed that it might be time to get out the "Life Alert." - Football Monogram winners Luther Bradley ('78) and Reggie Brooks ('93) had the crowd of more than 1,000 fans and supporters in stitches at Friday's football luncheon in the north dome of the Joyce Center. The two Notre Dame legends shared their favorite stories from the Notre Dame-USC rivalry while engaging with luncheon emcee Ted Robinson ('78), an NBC sports commentator and the play-by-play radio man for the San Francisco 49ers. Bradley - the all-time interceptions leader at Notre Dame - had the line of the afternoon, describing an interaction with his daughter recently while driving past Notre Dame on I-90. While sneaking a glance at the Golden Dome, she turned to her father and asked, "Daddy, are you sure you played in a game there?" That one must have stung a bit, Luther!