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    A New Home

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    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.

    Welcome to the Club

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    The alumni "club" that is... Congratulations goes out to Notre Dame softball seniors (from left) Alexa Maldonado, Kasey O'Connor, Kristina Wright and Dani Miller, who graduated this morning in a ceremony at Club Naimoli in the Purcell Pavilion.

    The four newest graduates in the class of 2012 missed Sunday's commencement ceremonies while their team was playing in the NCAA tournament regional in Tucson, Ariz.

    After their degrees were conferred, each of the student-athletes delivered a few heartfelt words to the audience, fighting back tears, but also adding some humor, while reflecting on all they have learned and thanking those who have helped them along the way.

    Chuck Lennon ('61), former executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Rev. Tom Doyle, C.S.C., Vice President for Student Affairs spoke at the event, along with Rev. Paul Doyle, C.S.C., rector of Dillon Hall and Monogram Club chaplain, who delivered the invocation and a final blessing.

    Much like the men's lacrosse ceremony I was able to attend on Saturday afternoon, this was a nice gesture recognizing all that the graduating student-athletes accomplished academically and athletically during their time at Notre Dame. While it was unfortunate that they did not get to participate in Sunday's events, being away from campus meant two things - their teams were still playing and their college athletic careers were still alive.

    I'm sure if you asked the twelve lacrosse and four softball student-athletes, a small graduation with the people closest to them - teammates, parents and coaches - was just as meaningful as the one they missed out in Notre Dame Stadium.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Irish Strike Out Cancer (and Syracuse)

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    It was all Orange this afternoon at Melissa Cook Stadium. And that's not to say Syracuse got a big victory. In fact, it was Notre Dame that emerged with a 4-3 win in the first game of a BIG EAST conference doubleheader.

    Orange was the color of the afternoon because Syracuse was decked out in it from head to toe, but also because the Fighting Irish uniforms were accented with orange for leukemia awareness.

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    Notre Dame held its second annual Strike Out Cancer event to help raise money for the South Bend Memorial Hospital Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Program.

    Pediatric leukemia is a disease that has closely affected Irish softball, as head coach Deanna Gumpf's daughter, Tatum, was diagnosed in 2010. Now six years old, Tatum is on her way to a full recovery.

    Among the activities at this afternoon's event were balloon animals, facepainting, and a silent auction.

    2012-04-14_13-33-39_139.jpg Some of the items being auctioned off include two pre-game sideline passes and game tickets for Notre Dame football game against Michigan, replica commemorative Strike Out Cancer jerseys and game-worn commemorative helmets and gloves.

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    After trailing for much of the game, the Fighting Irish tied the score in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run from Katey Haus, before walking off with a win in the seventh when Kelsey Thornton scored from third on a wild pitch.

    Notre Dame and Syracuse return to the field in a few minutes for the second game of the afternoon.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Strike Out Cancer

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    This Saturday, April 14, the Notre Dame softball team is hosting its Second Annual Strike Out Cancer for Pediatric Leukemia event. The Fighting Irish host Syracuse for a BIG EAST conference doubleheader beginning at noon ET at Melissa Cook Stadium, but there will also be various events throughout the day.

    A pre-game ceremony will honor Memorial Children's Hospital patients battling cancer. During the games, a silent auction will be held with items including 2 pre-game sideline passes and game tickets for the Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game on September 22nd. Other items include replica commemorative Strike Out Cancer jerseys (the Irish uniforms will feature orange, the 'color' associated with leukemia awareness), game worn commemorative helmets and gloves.

    There will be balloon animals, face-painting and a dunk tank during the game, and after game one, a 'Chuck-a-duck' competition in the pitcher's circle. After the doubleheader, any fans in attendance can register for the on-field home run derby, with the winner receiving a flat screen television.

    All proceeds benefit Memorial Children's Hospital Pediatric Oncology Clinic. Pediatric leukemia is a disease the Notre Dame softball team holds close to its heart. The Strike Out Cancer event was started last year in honor of Tatum Gumpf, head coach Deanna Gumpf's daugther who is battling cancer. Coach Gumpf's story was recently featured in the athletic department's 'Strong of Heart' book, which is available online and at the Hammes Bookstore.

    For more information visit, UND.com. Come out on Saturday to support the cause, and the Irish, as they seek to improve upon their 4-1 BIG EAST start and 7-0 record at home.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    The Season Starts

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    After what seems like years of practice in Loftus, we are officially starting the 2012 season.

    As I sit here in the airport waiting to board our flight, preseason seems like a distant memory. These past five weeks couldn't have gone any more smoothly. We pushed our limits and we found out what we were made of and what we wanted to accomplish this year ... the national championship!

    We also made some interesting connections in regards to our very distinct personalities. For example, we related the players of the team to movies that most represent them as a person. We concluded that the movie that represents Kasey O'Connor is Little Giants, Amy Buntin is Ol' Yeller, The Sandlot represents Kelsey Thorton, Laura Winter represents Star Wars and Emilee Koerner is representative of 50 First Dates.

    However, there are some things we still haven't figured out such as our songs for our walk out and spotlight. These are big decisions that can make or break a career. Luckily, there is time before our home opener so we have some time.

    Despite getting outside on a couple of the warmer days, the team is so excited to play some ball and enjoy the warm weather. San Diego natives Kristina Wright, Laura Winter and Katey Haus could not be more thrilled that they are home. Kristina tweeted from her airplane window seat, "I can see the lights! I love San Diego!" While Laura Winter admits, "I am excited to be home!"

    On our trip, we will be having dinner at the Winter's and the menu item is ... tacos! We could not be more grateful to our families who help out the team every way they can. On a another note, many of the girls will be seeing their families for the first time since going back to school.

    Speaking for myself, I cannot wait to see my mom! Our parents are our number one fans and are more than willingly to sign autographs after each game. They are the best!

    We open the season facing Boise State, San Diego State, San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Oregon State. We are one the only teams left in the nation that has not started its season. Many colleges started playing last weekend. Despite that fact, we can not be more excited to be here in San Diego and start the season off right!

    Go Irish!

    - Cassidy Whidden ('15)

    Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

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    Ask Us Before You Ask Them

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    Are You Experienced?

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    Irish In Australia

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    The Notre Dame softball team (@NDsoftball) recently returned to campus after spending fall break in Australia. Several players and staff members kept a journal of their encounters in the 'Land Down Under' for Irish UNDerground throughout the excursion ...

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    Sunday, Oct. 16 - Freshman Cassidy Whidden

    G'day mates!

    After countless hours on an airplane, the team has made it to the Land Down Under.

    However, we were only in Australia for a matter of minutes before Australian officials quarantined us.

    The customs officials suspected us of trying to sneak "foreign" substances into the country through the soles of our shoes, but what really happened is that multiple girls had clay from Melissa Cook Stadium on their cleats ... therefore our cleats had to be sanitized of this "foreign" substance.

    Despite being quarantined for a while, this did not stop our excitement and from the airport we made our way to Coogee Beach where the sunshine, the beach and an Australian barbecue welcomed us.

    Many of the girls joked that we would be eating kangaroo for lunch, but it wasn't a joke. The barbecue had a variety of chicken, sausage and kangaroo meats along with various salads and rolls. While some of the girls enjoyed the 'roo meat, the majority of us thought it was a little bit too "gamely".

    One must have an acquired taste for kangaroo meat; otherwise you might just spoil your entire meal.

    Along with learning what kangaroo meat tastes like, the team also learned how to throw a rugby ball and enjoyed a pick-up game with some wallabies "natives". For several hours, we enjoyed the sunshine and conversations with our new Australian friends. Our Australian friends taught us more than how to throw a rugby ball, the also informed us that certain American words do not translate into the same word down here.

    For instance, a fanny pack is not a fashionable waist bag but rather an inappropriate body part. It's a learning experience down here!

    I think I can speak for the whole team and say that jet lag has finally caught up to us, so this is all for now from down under! We miss everyone back home and we love you all!

    Cheers!

    Student-Athletes Volunteer In Alabama

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    ndmurphbama.jpg 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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