Oct. 17, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third consecutive year, the Notre Dame women's basketball team will be front and center in the South Bend and greater Michiana communities with its groundbreaking outreach program (renamed "Heart of the Irish"), which will involve numerous interactive events during the 2011-12 season. The goal of this year's "Heart of the Irish" program is to highlight community leaders who are making a difference, as well as encourage fans to give back to their community and make an impact through a variety of special initiatives.
"We've been blessed to be a part of the Notre Dame, South Bend and Michiana communities for nearly 25 years," Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. "There is such a special bond between the community, our University and our basketball program and we could think of no better way to celebrate that connection than through our `Heart of the Irish' events. I know we're all very excited to be a part of these wonderful projects and I'd encourage all of our fans to join us in continuing to make South Bend and the Michiana area one amazing place to call home."
The expanded "Heart of the Irish" schedule gets underway at 7 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 11, when Notre Dame opens its regular season schedule against Akron in the first round of the Preseason WNIT at Purcell Pavilion. That game will feature Notre Dame's first-ever Proud To Be An American event, honoring those who have served our country on the occasion of Veterans Day. There also will be a special recognition ceremony at halftime as part of the tipoff for this year's "Heart of the Irish" series.
The first of five cornerstone events for the 2011-12 "Heart of the Irish" drive will take place on Dec. 2, when Notre Dame plays host to Pennsylvania in a 7 p.m. (ET) game at Purcell Pavilion. During that game, the Fighting Irish will hold their annual Teddy Bear Toss, collecting new teddy bears and other stuffed animals for patients at Riley Children's Hospital, which serves many Michiana children, as well as local youth patients. The highlight of the event comes at halftime, when fans are invited to toss their stuffed animals onto the court, where they are then collected by volunteers.
Less than one week after the Teddy Bear Toss, Notre Dame will have a second outreach event called Food For Friends, to be held in conjunction with the Fighting Irish BIG EAST Conference opener against Marquette at 7 p.m. (ET) on Dec. 7 at Purcell Pavilion. Fans can bring to the game a variety of non-perishable food items that will be collected and delivered as part of the Food Drive for the St. Joseph Country chapter of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
Notre Dame's next special "Heart of the Irish" event is entitled Reading One on One and it's scheduled for Jan. 17, when the Fighting Irish play host to Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion. The That evening, the team will collect children's books for the South Bend Community School Corporation in support of the Public Education Foundation.
The Fighting Irish will hold their annual fund-raising game in support of breast cancer awareness and research on Feb. 12 (3:30 p.m. ET vs. West Virginia) at Purcell Pavilion. Known as the Pink Zone game, it will feature numerous informational booths and donation opportunities for fans to contribute to the fight against breast cancer, with the highlight being the always-memorable halftime ceremony to honor those who have been touched by (and in many cases, conquered) the disease. Last year, Notre Dame raised more than $130,000 through its Pink Zone game for the Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, lifting its three-year donation total to more than a quarter of a million dollars.
The last event in the "Heart of the Irish" series comes on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14), when Notre Dame welcomes Providence to Purcell Pavilion for a 7 p.m. (ET) tipoff. This will be the inaugural Splish Splash for YWCA, in which fans can bring towels, wash cloths or toiletries such as small bottles of shampoo, soap or toothpaste for the YWCA of St. Joseph County.
In addition to this five-event series, Notre Dame women's basketball will take part in a cooperative effort with the University's Office of Sustainability as the Fighting Irish encourage all fans to recycle in their daily lives, particularly when they attend Notre Dame basketball games at Purcell Pavilion.
Throughout the season, the Fighting Irish also will recognize community leaders who have made exceptional contributions. Fans who know of such a leader are invited to nominate them for recognition (including a courtside seat at a 2011-12 Notre Dame women's basketball game) by sending their name, organization, phone number and a short biography to Fighting Irish coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio at firstname.lastname@example.org. A marketing committee comprised of 10 Notre Dame women's basketball season ticket holders will choose 10 community leaders to be honored throughout the season. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Oct. 28.
The Office of Sustainability is one of four groups partnering with the Notre Dame women's basketball program for the 2011-12 "Heart of the Irish" series. Other partners include the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, the Notre Dame Office of Public Affairs, and the Notre Dame Department of Student Welfare & Development.
Originally called the "Spirit of Giving" program, Notre Dame's community outreach efforts began in earnest during the summer of 2009. Since then, Fighting Irish players, coaches, staff and fans have taken part in hundreds of hours of service projects designed to give back to the South Bend and greater Michiana communities.
On the court, Notre Dame returns four starters and nine monogram winners in 2011-12, following a 31-8 season and trip to the NCAA national championship game in '10-11. The Fighting Irish officially tipped off their preseason practice schedule last Thursday (Oct. 6), with BIG EAST Media Day slated for Thursday in New York City. Notre Dame opens the 2011-12 season at 7 p.m. (ET) Nov. 2 when it plays host to the University of Windsor (the reigning Canadian national champions) in an exhibition game at Purcell Pavilion.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the pulldown menu on the women's basketball page at UND.com.