Oct. 3, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - It will be another eventful fall for the University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse team as the squad will compete on the field, help others off the field and experience unique opportunities from Colorado to New York City.
While the team won't begin official competition until the spring, the fall is a vital time to lay the groundwork for the upcoming campaign and build chemistry. The process isn't as simple as picking up where last year's team left off. Each season brings unique challenges and a different set of student-athletes to the roster.
When fall ball concludes in early December the latest version of the Fighting Irish will have started to take shape thanks to a full slate of activities that aim to maximize the overall experience of being a student-athlete on the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team.
"This next month will see our team undertake a variety of experiences together geared towards their development in the critical areas of personal character, team culture and community involvement," head coach Kevin Corrigan says. "The chance to have fun in an environment full of rich educational and athletic experiences helps us build more than just our lacrosse ability, but ultimately makes us a better lacrosse team as well. We're looking forward to the work and the play of the next month together."
The Fighting Irish will open fall ball competition Sunday when they play host to Michigan at Arlotta Stadium. The game, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. (ET), is free and open to the public. This will be the first time the Irish and Wolverines have squared off since Michigan became a Division I program in 2012.
A daylong service event will take place Oct. 12 in Chicago. This is the second consecutive year the team has ventured to the Windy City for a Playing for Peace service project. Joining the team this year will be other Notre Dame students and the Notre Dame Monogram Club also will be involved.
Once the group arrives in Chicago via buses the Fighting Irish squad will conduct a practice and free clinic with local kids and members of Owls Lacrosse. Following a mass and networking lunch with Notre Dame students and alumni, the contingent will be divided up and travel to three inner-city catholic schools (Cristo Rey, Hales Franciscan School, St. Malachy's) for service projects.
The Playing for Peace initiative uses sport to transcend boundaries and bring people together in the pursuit of peace, justice and human understanding. Notre Dame has been heavily involved in the Playing for Peace crusade to bring lasting peace to Sudan and the men's lacrosse program also uses it as a platform for all of its community service work.
"The main focus of the trip is the work at the inner-city catholic schools, but it's also about the fellowship we'll share in doing that service with other students who will go with us from campus along with alumni from the Chicago area who will come to help us," says Corrigan. "Like everything that we do as a program, we try to see if there are other things we can do to make it interesting, different, unique, fun and valuable for our players. This will give us a chance to mix with other students outside of our team and get involved with the Notre Dame alumni network and even more specifically with the monogram winners in the Chicago area."
Just like in years past, the team will compete in Blue & Gold scrimmages the morning of home football games. The free scrimmages are held at Arlotta Stadium and fans are encouraged to come and get an early look at the 2013-14 version of the Fighting Irish squad.
The team's annual Steak & Hot Dog Game is slated for Oct. 18, which is the day the University's fall break commences. This always is an entertaining event for the players, who are split into two evenly matched squads that are drafted by the seniors. Usually the most memorable moments from the contest are the choreographed goal celebrations. Later that evening everyone heads to Coach Corrigan's house for dinner. The winning team feasts on steak, while the losing side will dine on hot dogs.
Prior to dinner a unique athletic exchange will occur at Arlotta Stadium as the Notre Dame squad will get an introduction to the sport of hurling. Some of the top hurling stars from Ireland will be in town for the Super Hurling 11s "The Celtic Champions Classic", which will take place the following afternoon at Arlotta Stadium before that evening's Notre Dame-USC football game.
Fighting Irish fans on campus will get a chance to witness Ireland's leading Gaelic sports stars perform the ancient Irish game of hurling, the fastest field sport in the world. This event will showcase a unique short-form of the game for the first time and will feature Ireland's very best athletes. The Irish lacrosse players will look to impart some knowledge of their sport to the hurlers in what should be an interesting exchange of skills.
During the first half of fall break, Corrigan once again will take the team's juniors to New York City for a professional networking trip. The group will meet with Notre Dame alumni and others who work at key companies in the city. This journey has become a staple for the Fighting Irish program.
"Our guys love this opportunity to get insight into that world and make contacts," says Corrigan. "We'll have a reception that night where they meet 50-60 of our lacrosse alumni who live in that area. It's not like a job fair, it's a chance for the players to meet and connect with different people who have been in our program over the years.
"It's a chance for them to be exposed to different firms on Wall Street and we'll take them to NBC and we'll also do something with commercial real estate. It's a great day in the city and a night of networking. It's a terrific opportunity for our guys because so many of them want to end up in that area in their first couple years out of school."
The team will spend the second half of the break in Colorado. The Fighting Irish will have an intrasquad box lacrosse game Oct. 24 in Denver and have dinner that evening with Notre Dame alums from that area. The following day will start with a visit to a children's hospital as the team will hope to spread cheer to the young patients. A scrimmage against the Air Force Academy will take place later that day.
Saturday, Oct. 26 will begin with a ropes and leadership course that the team will attend with the Air Force squad. Later that day the team will attend the Notre Dame-Air Force football game.
Before leaving Colorado on Oct. 27 the Fighting Irish will have one more challenge placed in front of them.
"The final morning of the trip we will get up early and run The Incline, which is a trail that's about 30 minutes south of the (Air Force) academy," says Corrigan. "I think it climbs about 2,000 feet over a mile. So you're not running it, you're walking and climbing and scrambling to get to the top."
A new wrinkle to this year's fall ball routine is the team's box lacrosse league that will take place every Wednesday after fall break inside the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center on campus. Box lacrosse is the latest addition to the team's annual O'Leary Cup competition that also features basketball, soccer and flag football. There will be six teams vying for this year's O'Leary Cup, which provides an enjoyable way to break up the November training period.
The Fighting Irish posted an 11-5 record last season and earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame defeated five top-10 teams and concluded the regular season with the nation's top RPI before advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.
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