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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."

Are You Experienced?

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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."

Tradition at Notre Dame

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How We Do What We Do

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typewriter.jpgWhen 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.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

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Click HERE
(or on the sweet women's soccer national championship trophy in the photo above)
to view the 2010-11 Notre Dame Athletics Annual Report

Daily Dish - 9.29.11

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1800493.jpeg - At 9:00 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 24, most Notre Dame students could be found sleeping, alarms perhaps set to blare moments before the football team faced Pittsburgh at noon ... yet, at that moment the women's swimming and diving team was preparing for a youth clinic at the Rolfs Aquatic Center ... dedicating their time until 4:00 p.m., the swimmers volunteered to instruct nearly 100 local participants in a Coaches vs. Cancer event to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and the local RiverBend Cancer Services.

- The men's lacrosse team has announced its 2011 fall schedule along with other dates of importance in the months of September and October ... on the field, the Fighting Irish will face Air Force and Navy during their fall exhibition season ... the Air Force contest will take place Oct. 8 at Notre Dame's Arlotta Stadium ... later that day, the Fighting Irish football team will play host to the Falcon gridiron squad ... Notre Dame will face Navy on Oct. 15 at Miller Field in Annapolis, Md.

- Melissa Henderson has accepted an invitation to participate in a training camp with the United States Under-23 National Team next week at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. ... the camp, which features 24 of the nation's top college players and young professionals, will take place from Oct. 2-7, and will be jointly overseen by U.S. Soccer Women's Development Director Jill Ellis, U.S. Soccer Women's Technical Director April Heinrichs and U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage ... Sundhage will be at the camp to evaluate players for possible call-ups to U.S. National Team camps heading into next January's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, and potentially for the run to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

- For just the second time in six years, the coaches and media agree on who should own the No. 1 position in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's annual preseason polls ... Notre Dame received enough points from the conference's 11 head coaches and 72 media members to be named the preseason favorite in both polls ... in the coaches' poll, the Fighting Irish captured eight first-place votes

- Tyler Eifert was named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week by the Nassau County Sports Commission ... Eifert registered a career-high eight receptions, including four on the 11-play, 85-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter at Pittsburgh that gave the Irish a 15-12 lead ... his four grabs on the touchdown drive totaled 34 yards ... Eifert also added a critical two-point conversion reception ... the eight catches by Eifert tied him with Kyle Rudolph (twice in 2010), John Carlson (2006), Anthony Fasano (2004) and Ken MacAfee (1977) for second most ever in a game by a Notre Dame tight end.

- In addition to the standard ESPN telecast Saturday of the Notre Dame-Purdue football game, there also will be a separate ESPN 3D origination - with former Irish Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown providing the analysis on that version.

- National Football Foundation historian (and former Sports Illustrated writer) Dan Jenkins recently selected his 20 greatest college football plays - and one of those was John Lujack's open-field tackle of Doc Blanchard that preserved the 0-0 tie between Army and Notre Dame in 1946.

- Here are some interesting numbers on Notre Dame's athletics web site, UND.com, from 2010-11: the top states in terms of users of the Notre Dame site were Indiana (13.45 percent), Illinois (9.16), California (7.43), Ohio (6.22), Pennsylvania (6.22) and New York (5.88) ... the top schools in terms of use of the mobile GameTracker feature were (in order) Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama (based on more than 200 school and conference sites produced by CBS) ... the top four sites in terms of page impressions and unique browsers were North Carolina, Michigan, Texas and Notre Dame.

Giving Back

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"This is Notre Dame. It's a place of service. It's a place of giving." - Brian Barnes

Monogram Club Musings - USF

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The Monogram Club will bring Irish fans the "Monogram Club Musings" following each home football game throughout the 2011 season.

This past weekend, Monogram winners returned to South Bend to kick off the 2011 campaign.

In addition to participating Monogram Club events throughout the weekend, Monogram winners also bore witness to one of the strangest games ever to occur inside Notre Dame Stadium.

Despite the multiple stadium evacuations on Saturday due to lightning warnings members still enjoyed the weekend, highlighted by the baseball program's annual reunion weekend and alumni game. The newest member of the Monogram Club was also inducted on Sept. 2 in a special ceremony. Keep reading to find out more!

- The season kicked off in grand fashion in Notre Dame Stadium, as pre-game festivities were highlighted by a special flyover featuring two USAF E/A-18 Growlers.

- Members of the Notre Dame football family who passed away over the last year were recognized during the pre-game flag presentation. The group included 19 football Monogram winners.

- In addition, representatives of three current Notre Dame football families who lost family members in 2010-11 presented the flag, including current Notre Dame receiver TJ Jones, whose father Andre Jones ('97) died in June. TJ was joined by his mother, Tiffany, and twin sisters, Kayla and Kynna.

- A much talked about storyline leading up to the game, Monogram winner and former Irish assistant coach Skip Holtz ('87) returned to Notre Dame Stadium Saturday as head coach of the USF Bulls. Holtz is in his second season at the helm of the program after spending five seasons as the head coach at East Carolina from 2005-09. Honorary Monogram recipient Beth Holtz was also on hand to see her son return to his alma mater.

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