April 27, 2007
Submitted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director
Hi again, BasketBlog Nation ... only been a few days since our last Blog, but much has happened in that time. Probably the biggest news to come out of the Irish women's basketball program in the past few days is the departure of associate head coach Coquese Washington to become the head coach at Penn State. While we're all extremely sad to see Coquese leaving us, especially after such a long and successful tenure at Notre Dame as a player and coach, this is a wonderful opportunity for her and we all have no doubt that she's going to do an outstanding job in Happy Valley.
Couple of other awards came out earlier this week, and incoming freshman forward Devereaux Peters is high on the list once again. The Chicago native was named a third-team All-USA selection by USA Today, and also was a second-team All-America choice by EA Sports. Speaking of our freshmen-to-be, we'll be seeing them quite a bit in the next few weeks with all-star games in their home areas. Of course, Devereaux already played in last month's McDonald's All-America Game in Louisville, and guard Brittany Mallory got into the act in March, playing in the Maryland-Virginia All-Star Classic -- clips of that game can be seen by clicking here and scrolling down to the March 24 "featured" games. And, forward Becca Bruszewski took the court in the North-South All-Star Game last weekend, nearly posting a double-double (13 points, nine rebounds) for the North squad in a prelude to her appearance with the Indiana All-Star Team in June. The Indiana All-Stars will play five times from June 13-23, including the two featured matchups against their Kentucky counterparts (June 16 in Bowling Green, Ky., and June 23 in Indianapolis). The All-Stars also will face the Indiana Junior All-Star Team on June 13 (Ellettsville, Ind.), June 19 (West Lafayette, Ind.) and June 21 (New Castle, Ind.).
Back on campus, it's an exciting weekend as Notre Dame celebrates the 35th anniversary of women's athletics at the University. Several familiar Irish women's basketball faces will be on hand this weekend, including the program's first coach, Sharon Petro, Mary Beth Schueth (Cain), Sandy Botham and Krissi Davis, not to mention perhaps the most famous playing manager in Notre Dame women's basketball history, Christy Grady (who suited up for the Irish late in the '97 Final Four season when the team was decimated by injuries). Hats off to the Notre Dame Monogram Club, especially Meg Henican, for putting together this weekend's activities.
As for the current Notre Dame squad, just because the season ends doesn't mean they aren't keep busy. We recently held a pizza party for our most spirited fan section (Ashley Barlow's crew known as "Ashley's Army") and also had a reception for our new season-ticket holders in order to give them a look at the inner workings of our program. Both events were well-received and we'll have some photos from those gatherings in a future BasketBlog.
A couple of our players -- Breona Gray and Melissa D'Amico -- also ventured out into the community, speaking to local grade-school students. Both ladies are excellent representatives of our University and our program, not to mention tremendous role models for young girls in our area, as well as back home in Las Vegas and Long Island, respectively. In fact, let me step aside and have Bre and Mel talk to you a bit about their recent trips to South Bend schools. We'll see you next time here on the BasketBlog and as always ... GO IRISH!!
Hello Irish fans!
Only one month remaining for me at Notre Dame. Wow, how time flies! I came here my freshmen year not knowing what to expect. This weather is unbelievable from the West Coast. When my mom came in for the end of the season banquet in the beginning of April, she looked out the window one morning and yelled "Breona, come look at this. It's snowing." I didn't believe her, but sure enough, there was a blanket of white snow on the ground. Although the weather is unpredictable and cold, I have adapted to everything ... the school, coaches, my teammates and especially the weather. After four years at this prestigious institution, I feel I am prepared to take on the world. It has been a wonderful experience and there is nothing I take for granted.
To close out my experience at Notre Dame, I wanted to do something special for our fans, who have been there with us through thick and thin. My favorite thing to do is surprise kids in their classroom at school. Recently, I had the opportunity to surprise one of our young fans, Katelyn Roberts, who goes to Jimtown North Elementary School in Elkhart, Ind. We set everything up with Katelyn's teacher, Mr. Deak, at Jimtown North. Mr. Deak took Katelyn down the hall to another classroom before we arrived at the school. When the teacher brought her back to the classroom, I was standing there with an autographed ball from the team and one of the Irish teddy bears that we give out at games. She didn't know what to do. She was so excited. After a few pictures, I told the class a little bit about myself. They asked many questions, which usually began with a story of their own, and then I read a book about a fat cat. Of course, the boys were anxious to ask me if I knew Brady Quinn or any of the football players. Then, they told me that they thought that they could take me one-on-one on the basketball court. Mr. Deak suggested that we go outside and I show the class my skills on the basketball court. Although the rim was not regulation, I was able to knock down all of them. The kids then made a huge line and each one played me one-on-one. I definitely came out of this experience sweating.
One thing we take very seriously with our team is being great role models for kids. The school atmosphere is an environment where we can stress academics and talk about our experiences at Notre Dame. Every time I go on a school visit, I am reminded of how much of an impact we make on young kids, especially young girls. We have so many fans in the surrounding areas and anything we can do to make an impact is so worth it. It is nice to take a step away from the competitive side of the game and evaluate what is really important in life ... and that is giving back.
Goodbye to all my fans. You have been tremendous the last four years and I am so grateful for your continued support.
Breona Gray #32
I just wanted to take a minute to say how great it was to be a part of the Holy Cross Elementary School Girls Basketball Awards Banquet on April 19th.
I was asked by one of our biggest fans, Kevin Drajer, to speak at their banquet and was ecstatic to do so. I love speaking to young girls about my experiences and I jump at the opportunity to offer advice for their advancement. All of the Holy Cross girls were very polite and well-spoken and the parents seemed very interested in learning how to help their children become better students and be successful on the basketball court.
What really amazed me (besides the great food) was the attitude of every single one of the coaches that spoke there. Where I come from in Manorville, N.Y., the younger girls who wish to pursue basketball through our elementary and middle schools don't really have much opportunity to work on their game. Actually, I don't even think we have any teams at that age. The boys program had developed well, but girls have to wait until junior high and high school (which I did) before they can play legitimately and work on expanding their game.
I think that Holy Cross' dedication to girls in athletics is great! They are in the process of building a brand new gym, which will include part of the floor from our 2001 national championship game in St. Louis. Hopefully, their team's success will have the "luck of the Irish" when the new gym opens. I always say that I wish I could have started playing at a younger age. The girls are obviously working hard (and having fun) and the coaches are, too. I want to congratulate all the girls on the season and wish them continued success in their future careers. Go Irish!
Mel D'Amico #33