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    Want to go behind-the-scenes and get the inside scoop on women's basketball at Notre Dame? The BasketBlog is your source for breaking news on everything related to the Fighting Irish women's basketball program, so stop back here regularly to get your fix on what's going on at Notre Dame. You can also sign up for the official Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter page (@ndwbbsid) so you've always got your finger on the pulse of the program. And don't forget to contact the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356, UND.com tickets page) to purchase your tickets for what promises to be a memorable 2011-12 season! Remember -- "You Bring The Spirit, We'll Bring The Game!"


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    July 28, 2011

    -- posted by Jill Bodensteiner, Associate Athletics Director/Women's Basketball Administrator

    Greetings Notre Dame Women's Basketball Fans -

    I hope everyone is surviving the heat and enjoying the summer. I am writing from Negril, Jamaica, where I am relaxing after an exhausting week of basketball camp in Kingston, Jamaica called Jumpball. I have been affiliated with Jumpball for several years after getting to know the co-founders, 1995 Notre Dame graduates Will Maloney and Chad Sutcliffe. Last year, I invited Melissa Lechlitner; she accepted and - as you can imagine - was a terrific addition to the camp.

    Lech and I returned this July to volunteer at Jumpball. We flew to Kingston on Saturday July 16, and spent Sunday with the dozens of Jamaican volunteer coaches who we will work with side-by-side for the next week. The coach who directs the basketball portion of the Jumpball camp is named Rick Turner (from Seattle, Wash.). Rick spent much of Sunday afternoon teaching the finer points of basketball drills to the U.S. and Jamaican coaches, many of whom were former Jumpball campers, to make sure we were all on the same page. The coaches who attended on Sunday each received a blue and gold Notre Dame/adidas bag; I'm sure you can imagine who donated those (thanks Stephanie Menio!). Needless to say, they loved the bags.

    Camp started Monday, and that first morning is always my favorite of the week - in large part because I'm still fresh. Camp is divided into three divisions, with orange being the most advanced (mostly high school boys and girls), blue being the intermediate (middle school) and white being an interesting cross-section of younger kids and total basketball beginners, ranging from 4 to 13 years old. I always work with the little kids in the white division, and many of them from last year greeted me between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. with the familiar "hello, miss" or "good morning, miss." Lech serves as Rick's assistant director for the blue division, which is by far the largest and in many ways most difficult group to work with.

    Each day of camp is tough work, and Monday was no exception. We got to work hanging banners, putting up portable basketball hoops, pumping up basketballs, setting up first aid tables and so forth. The entire camp is held outside at the Jamaican national stadium, and the weather as you can imagine is HOT. Camp runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and I would honestly say that the instruction, competition and values-based teaching that goes on is as high quality as any first-rate basketball camp in the United States. Miraculously, camp is offered totally free to the campers thanks to our many private donors and corporate sponsors. By the end of day 2, we will have just short of 300 campers registered.

    Each day moves through a similar pattern: the players "form up" against the fence with their teams and coaches and Rick lays out the day's plan and some good life lessons. We then separate into our three divisions, and do stretching, some running, and ball handling. Lech does a fabulous job leading 100+ campers in the blue division through ball handling. We do stations in the morning where the teams rotate through and learn a variety of basketball skills from Jamaica and U.S. coaches, and then half the camp plays a game while the other half eats KFC; we then switch so everyone gets a free KFC lunch. The afternoon is filled with various competitions, mostly shooting contests that the campers absolutely love.

    My day is basically filled by running the white division with the help of 2010 Saint Mary's College graduate Katie Danko, now a nurse in Houston who joined us for her second summer of Jumpball. Trust me when I say that each day is absolutely exhausting yet exhilarating. Looking at the smiles on the kids' faces, and watching them jump for joy after a teammate hits a shot are incredible moments. There are hundreds of these moments each day. One day, in an effort to kill time with the white division, Danko and I held an impromptu talent show. Our two winners were incredible; one young boy could dance just like Michael Jackson and the other, a girl about 11, was an amazing singer. Having witnessed the excitement of the talent show from afar, Rick asked if the two winners would like to perform in front of the entire camp when we assembled at the end of the day. One of my favorite moments of the week was watching that little girl sing, acapella and with a microphone, while 275+ campers watched, clapped, and swayed their arms back and forth. It was beautiful and she was so incredibly and rightfully proud.

    We made it through the week of camp, and on Thursday many of us veterans proclaimed that it was the best camp we could remember. We really don't do too much at night during the week because we are so exhausted (however... we did manage to find some pretty good food each night: Jamaican jerk, pizza, Mexican, Indian). However, now is our time for fun. We left Kingston on Friday, and after about a 4-hour drive, several of us are now on the West Coast of Jamaica in Negril where we will relax at a small, quaint resort on the cliffs. The water is incredible and it feels wonderful to relax after such a productive and inspiring week. I hope you enjoyed reading about Jumpball and enjoy the pictures!

    PHOTO GALLERY

    Go Irish!

    Jill

    March 31, 2011

    -- posted by Jason Crotty, member of Notre Dame Sixth Man Team (practice squad)

    Between the ages of 12 and 18, I was blessed with the good fortune of attending four Super Bowls. Without a doubt, they were all some of the most memorable experiences of my life. When I applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I figured I'd bolster my "I was there" resume with a few trips to the NCAA Men's Final Four. After I received my baby blue rejection, I was convinced that I had all but cemented a trip or two to a BCS Bowl game by electing to attend the University of Notre Dame (somehow this assumption seemed logical at the time). Never in a million years would I have guessed that the next major sporting championship I would witness firsthand would be a competition pitting one group of women against another.

    You see, I've always been a bit sexist when it comes to women's athletics. After watching (or more accurately, hearing about) my high school's girls teams routinely piling abysmal losses on top of irrefutably atrocious records, I had completely written off women's sports as a viable source of entertainment or contest. The only time a women's sport factored into my thoughts was whenever an opportunity arose to make a WNBA joke (typically involving any combination of layups, low scores, and lack of fan support).

    I carried this athletic intolerance with me right up until the Fall of my junior year at Notre Dame. For some reason, the fall semester of 2010 produced an inexplicable drought in pickup basketball player availability. Maybe it was the void left by the previous year's talented crop of graduating seniors, or perhaps the campus's collective and annual bout of seasonal affective disorder began early that year. Whatever the cause, very rarely were the courts accompanied by enough pairs of high-tops to formulate a game of 5-on-5 worth participating in -- except on the days when the women's basketball team showed up.

    It took me a few weeks to allow myself to admit it, but I actually began looking forward to their arrival. Sure, I had never really been comfortable with the idea of girls playing sports with boys, but really, what other options did I have? It was certainly better than playing 1-on-1 with an imaginary friend or goggle-touting, sweat-drenched senior citizen.

    Sarcasm aside, I quickly realized that this was not the same group of girls that I had coached at a local youth camp a few years prior. In fact, my years of generalizing and stereotyping started to haunt me as I began to question my own abilities and shot selection. Will they be upset if I take this three? What if I miss a game winner? Has anyone else noticed that the girl I'm supposed to be guarding has scored each of the last three trips down the floor?

    Eventually October rolled around and order was restored to the known universe. The girls traded in pickup for practice as the school's interhall football season hobbled to a close, replenishing the courts with the kind of people who should be playing sports -- you know ... males.

    I quickly reinstated my prior misconceptions, lowered my head, and prayed to God that nobody had noticed how I might have actually enjoyed playing with the girls. The courts became crowded again, and I assumed I had weathered a most unenviable storm. However, this utopia was not one meant to last.

    Sometime in mid-November, a friend of mine who had been practicing with the girls told me they could really use another guard to help run the scout team. Naturally, my first thought could be summed up with only the words "why" and "me." But after giving it some more thought, I decided that there really was no reason not to go at least once. After all, I had practiced with my older sisters' basketball teams since the day I could walk (which should say something about the level of women's play I was used to and hopefully will excuse me of a host of preconceived judgments) and never seemed overtly harmed by it. That was it, I was going.

    Fast forward a year and a half. I am now a fully committed member of the Notre Dame women's basketball practice squad, and to say that my perspective has changed would be a gross understatement. I guess that's what two seasons of having your pocket picked and shot blocked by females who are faster, stronger, and undeniably more athletic than you will do to your stance on women's sports.

    In the process, playing with girls on an almost daily basis has also changed my stance on the men's game. In high school, I was known as a slow lefty shooter with little defensive effort to speak of. On the women's scout team, I am known as the slow lefty shooter with little defensive effort to speak of. But more than the article has changed. In high school I played on a "team" of individuals who continually showed little-to-no concern for things beyond personal achievement. I now (sort of) play for a team that is committed to winning, regardless of individual recognition or accolade. While I can't claim to know for certain whether this difference hinges upon gender, I certainly think it is something to be considered.

    You see, perhaps the lack of freak-athleticism in the women's game (once an object of my humor) is reason alone to argue that it has become a more enjoyable brand of basketball to watch (according to UND.com, this year's women's team averaged nearly eight hundred more fans per home game than the men's). Maybe when the focus is less on the isolation of one player's talents against another's and more on actually using all five players to run a highly strategized offense, the system ends up producing more consistently favorable results.

    And while I do have a friend or two who enjoy poking fun at my female-oriented extracurricular activities by spontaneously texting me "Here we go ladies!!!" at the most random of times, it is uplifting to know that the rest of the practice squad and I will always be able to say that we had an arguably legitimate impact on the outcome of a Final Four -- something many dream of, but few can actually claim. No, even two more Notre Dame wins this weekend won't earn me a place atop that flimsy ladder with a pair of wrong-handed scissors (how on earth can that be safe?), but it would at least make me something that resembles a part of a national championship team -- at least to a degree, I suppose.

    You might think that my two-year stint as a women's basketball practice player (not to mention my commitment to become Chief Operating Officer of a small women's and children's boutique upon graduation) would leave this once-chauvinistic man second-guessing his own masculinity. Not so much. In fact, I think it takes a real man to set his ego aside and take on the role of someone who plays second, third, or even fourth fiddle to group of women (as for the boutique, rest assured I will be strictly selling, not modeling, the line of clothing and home decor).

    Yes, I've come a long way these past two years. No, you won't see me in line to purchase WNBA season tickets any time soon (Why would I pay to see layups? Boom! Roasted!). But if you watch the Women's Final Four this year (and watch it closely), you just might see me a few rows behind the Notre Dame bench. And if you turn your volume up loud enough, you may even hear me let out a few "Here we go ladies!!!"

    Go Irish!

    Jason Crotty

    February 13, 2011

    -- posted by junior guard Veronica Badway

    Hi Irish fans,

    With the spring semester well underway by now and only a few regular season games left, I was recently asked by a classmate -- "V, What are you going to do when the season is over?" While most student-athletes respond to this question with "Well, I will definitely have more free time...", my immediate response was that the season is far from over. That's right, it's almost March, which means the NCAA Tournament. And for anyone who loves basketball, this is the greatest time of the year.

    Basketball in March is more than just the final games of the season. It is the time of year when basketball takes center stage in the world of sports. It dominates SportsCenter and is a reminder to fans across the country why they love this game so much. From the anticipation of Selection Sunday (and in our case, Selection Monday) to the unexpected and exciting upsets day in and day out, the NCAA Tournament is truly the greatest part of the season. It is filled with both victory and defeat, smiles and tears, success and heartbreak. It holds the games that little girls aspire to play in when they are older. Young players do not imagine making that final shot as time expires in their driveways to win the first game of the season. They do not work on sinking free throws while pretending that they are winning a random game during the season. Instead, the dreams that young players picture in their heads are centered on the Big Dance ... the Final Four ... the National Title. Growing up as one of those little girls, I know all too well that those basketball dreams are focused on winning it all.

    So with the NCAA Tournament quickly approaching, my response to the classmate may have been untraditional, but it was true. For me, the most exciting aspect of basketball is just about to begin. The time of year that makes dreams come true is just around the corner. And I cannot wait. So far this season, the friends that I have made, the lessons that I have learned, and the experiences that I have had are ones that I never imagined would be possible. I have been truly blessed with these past few months and would not trade any of it in for the world. I have had the time of my life that I will cherish forever. So no matter what the Tournament holds for our team, I know that it will be an experience of a lifetime ... something that I dreamed of being a part of as a little girl. To say that I am excited is a drastic understatement. I am thrilled to begin the next chapter of our season with my teammates and live out yet another dream that I never thought would be possible.

    So get ready for the Big Dance, Irish fans. We are excited and ready to go ... and the weeks to come promise to be nothing but another exciting adventure!

    GO IRISH!!!

    Veronica Badway #2

    January 19, 20011

    -- posted by senior forward Mary Forr

    As the new semester commences the question, "how was your break?" resounds across campus. While a few students are content to let the conversation die with a simple, "Great! How was yours?" it seems to me that the majority of my classmates are simply bursting at the seams, waiting for the follow-up question of, "what did you do?" Answers to this question have ranged from skiing trips in Colorado, to cheering on (or playing for) the Irish in the bowl game, to family vacations in Hawaii, to service trips in India, to spending a lot of time hanging out with family and sleeping. Everyone has a story about Christmas break. Typically, my break would have consisted of hanging out with my family at home, but this year, Santa had something else in store.

    As a new walk-on to the Notre Dame women's basketball team this year, I was blessed to spend the majority of my Christmas break with the team traveling coast to coast playing basketball -- and at times, arcade games. Christmas break for the team started with the game against Valparaiso. As we were warming up for the game, I looked up into the stands. Instead of seeing of brown and yellow Valpo shirts covering the bleachers, I was pleasantly surprised to see the friendly faces of the Irish fans. I'm pretty sure Becca had more fans there cheering for her than the entire Valpo team had. It was an awesome game as our team won easily; however, the ride home wasn't quite as smooth.

    On the bus ride back from Valpo, we stopped several times because of the weather. As soon as we put the bad weather behind us, V (Veronica Badway) and I (both Pennsylvania natives) began trying to figure out the best time to leave for home. We both love Notre Dame, but neither of us wanted to spend Christmas in the dorms -- especially since the dining halls were closed. We decided it would be best to leave for home right away. We got on the road at midnight, fully prepared to face any storm that came our way. We packed coffee, sugar, fruit, several blankets, and the new Taylor Swift CD -- nothing could stop us. V drove the car and took care of the directions, while I talked her ear off. We were a great team, and we safely arrived home in PA at 6 a.m.

    After a few wonderful days spent with my family, I returned to South Bend to take off for Seattle. The night we arrived in Seattle, we went to a little fish restaurant on the water. Attached to the restaurant was an arcade. After finishing our dinner, we spent some time playing games. I'm pretty sure Bob Nagle (our radio broadcaster) was the only person to actually win anything. In Seattle we played (and beat) Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. We returned home from Seattle, played and beat Southeast Missouri State and Marquette, and then, after a disappointing loss to UConn, we bounced back and beat Louisville and Pittsburgh.

    The game at Pitt was probably my favorite game so far. As I said before, I'm from Pennsylvania, so most of my family and friends came over to the game. It was incredible. We played fantastic defense in the first half of the game -- and with 33 seconds left in the first half, I heard Coach call my name. At first I thought I was hearing things, but then it clicked -- I was going into the game. As I struggled to take off my warm-up, I kept thinking, "it's just 33 seconds, you really can't mess up thaaat badly in 33 seconds." In the second half of the game, V and I both got to play. I got shivers as I ran down the court in front of all my friends and family. There's no way I would be playing for Notre Dame if I didn't have a mom who took me to practice every day, a dad who taught me how to shoot a hook shot, a sister who set the best example ever for me, a brother who beat me each time we played to make me better, a best friend who rebounded for me for countless hours each day, coaches who always built me up and taught me to love playing basketball, and friends who believed in me every step of the way. At Pitt, so many of the people who were a part of my quest to play at Notre Dame were in the stands, and as I played in front of them I couldn't help but smile. I'm so grateful to everyone who came, and to everyone who wanted to come but couldn't. It made my Christmas break so wonderful.

    So, when my friends back here at Notre Dame ask me, "What'd you do for Christmas break?" they're probably not looking for the hour-long detailed explanation of every game and every exciting moment that I would love to give them. Instead, I think I'm just going to start responding, "I lived the dream."

    GO IRISH!

    Mary #41

    November 21, 2010

    -- posted by 2001 Notre Dame women's basketball alum Ruth Riley

    An entire decade has passed since my teammates and I stood huddled up at Notre Dame's center court, where we reunited this weekend to celebrate our 2001 National Championship. We had an amazing time from being honored at the women's game on Friday, to our team dinner that night where we were able to catch up on each other's lives and joke around about some of the comical experiences we shared, to being honored at the football game on Saturday.

    Since I have been blessed to win a championship in every level, many people ask me which one is the most memorable. I generally say, there is no greater honor than representing your country and winning a gold medal, but the most memorable for me was winning a national championship at Notre Dame. There is just something unique and special about the amateur aspect of college athletics, and then finishing my entire collegiate career on top was simply amazing.

    Prior to the women's game Friday night, Notre Dame took me by complete surprise as they unveiled a banner with my name and number, designating me as the first female athlete to be inducted into the newly established ring of honor around the arena. I was so grateful to have my family and teammates there with me, without them I would have never become the player and person I did and continue to be today!

    As we walked out to be introduced at halftime, I was filled with mixed emotions. I am not a player to spend much time reliving the "glory days" but it was impossible to escape the flashbacks of the nervousness and anxiety I felt as I stepped on to that court for my very first practice, the sadness of senior night when I realized it was my last home game representing the Fighting Irish, and the various emotions that accompanied all the practices and games in between.

    We were fortunate to have everyone make it back for the weekend, and I could not help but find it ironic that it was not the people, but the place that changed the most. My teammates look like exactly the same as when I left them 10 years ago, but it was the arena that I did not recognize. It has been completely renovated with new seats, and added club level as well as the addition of a brand new state of the art jumbotron over mid-court. Looking around, I could not help but be filled with pride, purpose and contentment in knowing that my teammates and I were instrumental in building the program to the level it is today. Our contribution was not isolated to what we accomplished in 2001, but we could see the tangible effects our careers had. There is something very fulfilling in knowing that not only were we successful, but we, like so many teams before us, have helped script various chapters in the legacy of Notre Dame women's basketball. It was equally exciting to see the current players and know they are now they are not only carrying that on today, but they are continuing to carry it forward!

    Lastly, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. First to my family for their unwavering love and support over the years! Secondly, to my teammates and the basketball staff for their friendship, guidance, and all the memories we share. To the university, for their investment in our lives as they provided the resources to enable us to be successful on the court and in life. Last, but definitely not least, to the community of South Bend, and the Notre Dame fans everywhere, for the love and support they have and continue to show us!!

    GO IRISH!

    Ruth

    November 11, 2010

    -- posted by assistant coach Niele Ivey

    Hello ND fans,

    Well, as you all know, we are only a couple of days until our National Championship reunion and I couldn't be more excited. Back in 2001 as a player, I don't think I took the time to really completely experience everything from that amazing moment when we won. I remember having to fly back to South Bend a couple hours after winning and everything was such a blur for me. Then, right after celebrating at the White House and also in New York, I was off to training camp in Indianapolis with the WNBA's Indiana Fever. I never had time to celebrate!! Well ... NOW I DO!! I am most excited about reliving those moments and sharing it with all of my teammates, support staff, and of course, our fans. Being an assistant coach here at ND, I get the opportunity to observe and contribute to the growth of our women's basketball program everyday and it is so amazing. Every time we have a recruit on campus, I get a chance to watch the final moments of our championship game in our recruiting video and still get chills while watching it. I am so blessed to be back here!! I have learned so much in the past four years and I hope that I am helping our current players reach their highest potential while being here.

    2001 was a very special year from the first day of summer school. I remember staying at Notre Dame the entire summer to really work on my game for that upcoming season. That summer I spent endless hours with our strength coach, Tony Rolinski, working on my game, and playing pickup with the team. We were on a mission. I remember being so COMPETITIVE!! We had great leadership and a great team that understood their roles and were willing to follow. Everything seemed to be in place. Everyone was healthy and everyone was willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the team. Our practices were soooo intense. We battled and we competed every day. We were all just on the same page!!

    For me, winning the National Championship was such a dream come true and to win at home was just unbelievable and something I will never forget. I could have never scripted something so perfect to happen for me the way that it did. That moment was truly one of the happiest moments of my life and my basketball career. But it was more than a game for me. It would be the last time that my entire family including my four brothers - Philippe, Cedric, Thomas, and Nick - and my parents would all be together. My older brother, Philippe, was killed in a car accident seven months later while I was pregnant with my son, Jaden. Life hit me very hard! My dream instantly turned into a nightmare. However, at that moment in St. Louis, wearing the #33 Irish jersey, I was home and my family was safe. I was playing in front of my friends, my family, my high school principal and teachers, my high school coach, and my community. I felt extremely proud to be representing for my city. I remember all of the long days and nights that I spent in the gym and at the parks playing basketball while everyone else my age was hanging out. Everything made sense to me during that moment--choosing to go away to college at Notre Dame, going through two ACL surgeries, and spending countless hours in the gym and the training room. Sometimes it's very hard for me to see my brother, Philippe, in the stands during those highlight films or in the newspaper clippings but I always LOOK for him. I dedicate that moment to him in 2001 and now as I celebrate this 10 year reunion. I am so grateful to have shared the most amazing season in Notre Dame Women's Basketball history and winning the National Championship, but most importantly having the opportunity to do it at home in front of my family. It was truly a SWEET DREAM!!!!!

    GO IRISH!!

    Niele

    November 10, 2010 - Part 2

    -- posted by women's basketball video intern Justine Ward

    I think it's safe to say that the exhibition game against Michigan Tech was a success for the Women's Basketball team, and not just because we beat Michigan Tech 102-30. The Jumbotron was a new and exciting addition to the Purcell Pavilion that made it easier for everyone in the stands to see and hear what was going on in the game. Fans got to see their favorite players and their own faces light up across the screen as the Irish took home the victory. Fans also got to see the other new additions to the team, the freshmen and walk-ons, play for the first time. Freshmen Natalie Achonwa and birthday girl Mary Forr were two of the new faces that played very well in their first game for the Irish. The player of the game, Natalie Novosel, showed that hard work does pay off, with a total of 21 points during the game.

    Overall, it seemed players were happy to be back on the court and fans were happy to be back in the arena. The mood was very upbeat in the Purcell Pavilion, and every fan I talked to told me they were ready and hopeful that the team would go all the way this year. Well, it certainly seems like there is a lot to look forward to this season.

    See you in the stands, Irish fans!

    Justine

    November 10, 2010 - Part 1

    -- posted by women's basketball video intern Justine Ward

    Fall break has allowed me the time and peace of mind to catch up with friends and family who I haven't gotten a chance to speak to in the heat of football season and all the other fall craziness at Notre Dame. "How's your semester going?" seems to be the favorite conversation starter. Luckily, I can respond that my semester has been amazing so far. Not good, not great, but yes, amazing. I owe most of that response to my internship with Women's Basketball.

    Although it all sounds very clichéd and you probably think they're having me write this glowing blog to promote the team, my internship with Women's Basketball is the most fun I have had `working' -- I would not call it 'work' -- during my college career. Every single person on that team, including the coaching staff, has been so incredibly kind and friendly to both Will (the other intern) and I. They have a genuine love for the sport and a determination that is truly inspirational.

    Will and I are Film, Television, and Theatre majors in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters. With Stephanie Menio's guidance, Will and I are responsible for all of the promotional videos that Notre Dame Women's Basketball has created thus far this semester to pump up fans, recruits, and the players for the upcoming season. While Will shoots and edits all of the video content, you can usually find me in front of the camera interviewing fans, players, or the coaching staff. Will and I make an excellent team and I could not have asked for a better partner in my journalistic endeavors.

    Notre Dame Women's Basketball and its fans have welcomed Will and me into their family with open arms and we could not be more grateful. I just wanted to say hello and introduce Will and I because you will be seeing a lot of this season. I encourage all of you to check out "The Decision" video on Notre Dame Women's Basketball's YouTube channel, which already has over 1,500 views!

    GO IRISH!

    Justine

    October 18, 2010

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    Well ... I didn't get much sleep last night from all of the cappuccinos yesterday. I should probably stay away from them after 8pm ... ha ha.

    7:30am this morning, I started my adventures at the Haptbahnhof (train station). E dropped me off in the Volkswagon to catch the 8:01am train to Berlin. She had two practices today, so she couldn't join me on my journey. E says "just go inside the doors and buy your ticket. After you buy your ticket, just wave, so I know you are good to go." I walk in the doors and go to the left, through the doors, grab a ticket and just wait for my name to be called from the ladies at the counter. I am just standing there when I realized that everyone in line was picking up packages. Yes, I was in the post office and not the ticket line. I finally found the kiosk to buy a ticket and was praying "please have an English option." Oh no, no English option. There were about 20 screens of options and I couldn't read anything. I asked this really nice girl next to me if she spoke English and she gestured a little. Thank goodness for her or I would have been going to Hamburg.

    I finally made it on the train and the quick hour ride was nothing. We arrived in Berlin and thanks to E and Lech's recommendation to hop on the Berlin City Tour bus, I had my means of transportation set. Only 15 euro to hop on and off in 17 different spots with a guided tour in English.

    Here's what I saw today:
    KaDeWe
    Mexikanische Botschaft
    Italienische Boschaft
    Potsdamer Platz
    Berlin Wall
    Checkpoint Charlie
    Checkpoint Charlie Museum
    Gendarmenmarkt
    Nikolaiviertel
    Alexanderplatz
    Neue Synagoge
    Berliner Dom
    Fernsehtum
    Friedrich der GroBe
    Holocaust Memorial
    Bradnderburger Tor
    Reichstag
    United States Embassy

    Yes ... I know what you are thinking. That is a lot of sites. And, yes I stopped at all of them. My two favorites were Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. You can call me Ms. Menio, your history teacher for today. Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

    The Soviet Union prompted the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stem the flow of Eastern Bloc emigration westward through what had become a "loophole" in the Soviet border system, preventing escape over the city sector border from East Berlin to West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of east and west, and -- for some East Germans -- a gateway to freedom. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced off at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.

    The Checkpoint Charlie museum was really interesting because they showed how the Americans assisted in escapes through the checkpoint from East to West Berlin as well as some of the unsuccessful escape attempts. Outside the museum was the Checkpoint Charlie station, where I took a picture with some American guards. Above the checkpoint was a sign that said "You Are Leaving the American Sector" and above that a huge picture of a Soviet soldier. On the other side of that picture was a picture of an American soldier symbolizing which sector you were entering. It is amazing to me how different it was on each side with the massive killing on the East and the fight for democracy and freedom on the West. I couldn't imagine having my family separated by a wall.

    In between the many sites, I had a nice sitdown lunch along the river. I ordered Möhrensupp and Rindfleisch mit Salzkartoffeln or carrot soup and beef with boiled potatoes. Definitely something a little different for lunch. Some other tasty treats throughout the day included an apple pastry, chocolate and a brat. I would definitely be 500 pounds if I lived over here.

    Tomorrow, I am spending my last day chilling in Halle. E and I are going to the Moritzburg Castle and the chocolate factory followed by a goodbye dinner.

    Ich hoffe, das Wetter ist gut in South Bend! Es war in Berlin schön heute!

    Stephanie

    Note: If you think I am extremely intelligent and know how to speak German, I am glad to here that, but I have been using http://google.translate.com to makeup my fun German phrase of the day. Check it out to translate my phrase to English.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie will be taking pictures every day during her trip, but due to space considerations within this blog and other technical difficulties with transmitting overseas, we will be collecting these photos and posting a link to a full photo gallery from her trip upon its conclusion.

    October 17, 2010

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    So, I totally forgot to write about one HUGE part of the game yesterday. Three minutes into the game, E takes a charge. Any Irish fan knows that E is the queen of taking charges and the European refs fell for her dramatic performance. I wonder if she is going to have a reputation in the league. :)

    Today, E and I jumped in a Volkswagon and drove four hours to Oberhausen (I definitely called it Oberhagen in my last blog ... but it's really Oberhausen) to see Lech. As of last week, Lech was traded from Halle to Oberhausen. The news from Oberhausen is "Lech loves it." She loves her teammates, her coach and her President. Right now, she is living with the President of her team, who cooks her three meals a day. How nice is that?

    Originally, we were supposed to meet halfway in Kassel, but Lech couldn't get her car by today, so because we love her so much E and I hauled it all the way across Germany. The scenery reminded me so much of my home, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Then I remembered that northeast Pennsylvania is second to Germany in fall foliage. Who knew? Along the way, there were cute little towns on each side of the highway with their red roofs neatly placed into the mountainside.

    We got to Oberhausen around 2pm and met Lech at the Galeria, which is the second largest mall in Europe. Coach McGraw and Niele would love it!!! Yes, they had a Starbucks and I had to go in and order my grande, non-fat, no whip, white mocha (I absolutely said it in English because I didn't have a clue how to translate it into German). I am not really sure what drink I got, but it wasn't my usual. You just have to roll with the punches when you are in a foreign country.

    We walked through the Galeria and the outside plaza and ended up at the Gasometer, which is a major landmark in Oberhausen. A little history lesson on the Gasometer:

    "During the 1920's, industry had a firm hold on the area covered today by the city of Oberhausen: - pit heads, coking plants and iron works were typical sights here as in other parts of the Ruhr. But their networking did not yet function in an optimum way in all areas. The top gas that was produced in the iron works of the Gutehoffnungshütte (GHH) was in fact already used in order to fire the coking ovens in Osterfeld. However, as soon as there was a delay in iron processing, coal or oil had to be burned for coke production. In reverse, the iron works flared off its gas unused as soon as coking plant operations were not running smoothly. The Gasometer was intended to remedy the losses thus produced by storing gas and releasing it as required.

    In February 1927, its construction was commenced and after roughly two years, by the Rhine-Herne Canal the largest gas holder in Europe stood, with a height of 117.5 m and a diameter of 67.6 m. It had an effective volume of 347,000 cubic metres and cost 1.74 million Reichsmarks. The money was well invested since its operation paid off after the very first year. At first it was filled with the low-energy top gas which accumulated as a waste product in the blast furnaces. Later it accommodated the higher-value coking oven gas from the coking plant in Osterfeld and with it mainly supplied the surrounding industrial plants as far as Ruhrchemie in Holten.

    During the Second World War, the Oberhausen gas holder was hit by bombs several times, but had to be shut down only just before the end of the war, in January 1945. After the war it caught fire during repair work in 1946 and had to be demolished as far as the foundations. During reconstruction which took until 1949, various structural elements, including the roof were able to be re-used. After the demand for coke stagnated, the coking plant in Oberhausen was closed. And its gas was increasingly replaced by natural gas supplied via pipelines. The Gasometer became superfluous and its decommissioning took place in 1988."

    http://www.gasometer.de/en_GB/index.php?pid=5_2

    Today, the Gasometer hosts a planetarium and an amazing view from its roof. We took an elevator up to the top and saw the Rhine River (definitely a highlight since we have all studied it in Social Studies class in grade school). Although it was a bit nippy at the top, the view was amazing. I definitely appreciate every city we go to because of its history. It is really interesting to see how World War II has affected a country. I will definitely get to see a lot of that tomorrow in Berlin. After the Gasometer, Lech, E and I sat around and had dinner and sipped cappuccinos. I can't tell you how nice it was to see Lech today. She said that it was so refreshing to see a familiar face and I was glad to deliver that face and some of her mom's pumpkin bread. The best part about being over here is listening to their stories about living in a foreign country, the differences of West Germany and East Germany, how they have adapted and what they hope to accomplish while they are here. Both E and Lech want to make the most out of all their experiences, which shows the true Notre Dame grad in them.

    On the way home, we almost ran out of gas on the highway and I just kept thinking how inconvenient that would be for E and I considering we cannot speak German ... ha ha. We made it though and now I have to get my beauty rest for BERLIN tomorrow. I am sooooo excited! I am taking the train first thing in the morning, which arrives at Hauptbahnhof, Europe's largest railway station!

    Gehe Irish!

    Stephanie

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie will be taking pictures every day during her trip, but due to space considerations within this blog, we will be collecting these photos and posting links to galleries from her travels every couple of days.

    October 16, 2010

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    Day 2 in Halle, Germany was kind of a chill day. Got to sleep in and get acclimated to the six hour time change. E had to get her ankles taped at 10:30am for a 7pm game since her physical therapist also works with the soccer team here. Could you imagine having your ankles taped for 8.5 hours before game time? I think E misses you, Anne (Marquez, our trainer at Notre Dame).

    Last night, we went to a restaurant called Krausenhaus, which had an authentic German cuisine. I couldn't read anything on the menu, so I had to go with E's recommendation. That is the best part about being in small town Germany. You feel as though you are part of the culture and have to adapt to the best of your abilities. We had a great time in this cute little restaurant talking about Notre Dame.

    We did some walking through the marketplace again this afternoon before leaving for the game. I hopped in the car with three of the other players (Maggie, who played for Michigan St./Missouri St., Carrie, who played for Penn and Yolanda, who played for WVU) and E to go to the game. What is so funny about Germany is that all of their music is American music, so the ladies were jamming out in the car on the way to the game to Katy Perry and Green Day.

    What an amazing game! It was so much fun! They are allowed noisemakers throughout the game, so drums were banging and whistles were blowing all over the place. With a packed gym, noisemakers and people screaming, it was so loud and so much fun. The first half was back and forth and E was a dominant force inside. Her coach, Peter, stresses that she has to get at least one touch inside each possession.

    Halftime SV Halle 48, Herner TC 40. Time for a Brat! Obviously, I don't know how to speak German, so I had to point at a brat and lemonade at the concession stand at halftime. I had no idea how much anything was, so I just handed the guy some money hoping for the best.

    The second half was so awesome. There was so much energy in the gym and E came out swinging. With seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied, one of the Herner players shot a half court shot, which rimmed in and out to send the game into overtime. E scored six straight points in overtime to give Halle the lead. The final SV Halle 92, Herner 87. E had 21 points and 18 rebounds. It was probably the most fun I have had at a basketball game (besides Notre Dame of course). It wasn't much different after the game than at Notre Dame. The team ran around the gym slapping all the fans' hands and fans were running up to E and her teammates to take pictures. That same pure energy for basketball filled the sports complex just like the Purcell Pavilion.

    Off to see Lech tomorrow and experience Oberhagen. I love how my trip consists of touristy things, living the German life and basketball. I will check-in later.

    Bis morgen...

    Stephanie

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie will be taking pictures every day during her trip, but due to space considerations within this blog, we will be collecting these photos and posting links to galleries from her travels every couple of days.

    October 15, 2010

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    Hallo Irish Fans ... well, I made it to Halle, Germany and was greeted by the funny, 6-4 redhead from Charlotte, North Carolina, Erica Williamson. 2010 Graduates, Erica and Melissa Lechlitner both played for the SV Halle Lions up until Wednesday. Can you believe that Lech was traded to a team four hours away the day before I got here? Luckily, E and I are going to meet up with Lech on Sunday and experience small town Germany together.

    Halle is such a cute little town. As you can see from the pictures, the architecture is outstanding. E and I walked through the marketplace when I got here and grabbed some lunch before she headed to practice. I was able to relax a little bit after being up all night traveling here. Tomorrow, I get to catch one of the SV Halle Lions' games, which I am so excited about. E is the goto player on the SV Halle team, so I will be cheering on a double-double performance from the stands. Don't worry. I brought the video camera to capture some of the game and will be posting it when I get back. After the game, I get to meetup with the SV Halle team, which is comprised of mostly Germans, but a few other Americans. 2005 WVU graduate and E's new roommate, Yolanda Paige took Lech's position at point guard and 2009 Penn graduate Carrie Biemer is on the team as well.

    This will definitely be a jam-packed trip. Besides a day traveling through small town Germany with E and Lech, I will be squeezing in a trip to Berlin, an SV Halle game and of course, touring Halle. When will I ever get back to Germany? I have to make the most of it.

    I thought I would conclude with my top 5 favorite things about Germany thus far:

    5. The architecture is unbelievable. It is everything you would think Germany architecture would be.

    4. I don't understand a word they say, but they translate everything in English following German, so I am not too out of place.

    3. The Doner ... which is just like the gyro, a Middle Eastern dish made of lamb meat (mainly) cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order. Yes, Coach Tsipis, that one was for you.

    2. They serve FREE coffee in the Munich airport ... not just regular or decaf, mocha, vanilla crème, hazelnut, the works.

    1. Of course, number one was seeing E. As you all know, she is one of the most lively players we have had at Notre Dame and it is so great to see her. She was part of my first class to graduate at Notre Dame, so the 2010 class holds a special place in my heart.

    Thank you to Coach McGraw for allowing me to come over to Germany this week. I am so lucky to work for such great people at Notre Dame and this is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will keep you posted with game results tomorrow.

    Machen Sie einen schönen Tag!

    Stephanie

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie will be taking pictures every day during her trip, but due to space considerations within this blog, we will be collecting these photos and posting links to galleries from her travels every couple of days.

    August 24, 2010

    -- posted by 2010 Notre Dame women's basketball alum Erica Williamson

    Wow, has it really already been two weeks? Time seems to fly by when we're here. So much has happened in the past few days, but I'll try and do my best to remember all the great things. I really need to get back to blogging more frequently.

    But anyways ... perhaps the BEST thing that happened was a visit (yes, I've only been here for a little under a month and have already had two visitors!!) from my Dad and uncle, Brock. My uncle had a pre-planned trip through Germany to pick up his brand new car, so he made a detour through Halle and my dad decided that he wanted in too!! On Sunday (the 15th) Lech, Karla, Carrie, and I all drove to Berlin to pick up my dad from the airport and tour the city. After a bit of delay thanks to Lufthansa for losing my Dad's bag (he got them later, thank goodness), we headed into the heart of the city to eat some food and tour some sites. We all enjoyed some traditional German cuisine at an outdoor restaurant. Might I add that perhaps one of my favorite things about living in Germany has been the opportunities to eat outside and just relax and enjoy the sights? Food is served slower than in the states, but there is no real rush to get you out of the door. If you want to sit and relax for four hours, you can! It's amazing. I'm going to miss sitting outside when the harsh weather comes around in a few months.

    Ok back to Berlin. From lunch, we walked about 20 minutes to the Brandenburg Gate. Walking through European cities is so fascinating to me. The architecture, the age of buildings, the structures, the design, everything. I continue to be amazed by the beauty of everyday German cities, Berlin included. You can't exactly find a lot of places like that in the states. Well after arriving at the Gate, realizing we didn't exactly want to walk around anymore, we decided to hop on board a double decker tour bus. Great call. On our driving tour, we were able to see the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the presidential palace, and a lot of other really interesting sights. It was a great way to get a feel for such a historic city. I can't wait to go back and walk around the wall, tour the Holocaust museum, and just explore a little bit more!

    My uncle arrived from Munich with his new car Tuesday, and it was a blast to have him here to see where I'm spending my life these days. Of course, after two days in the town and walking around while we were all at practice, my dad knows the city better than I do. I had been prepared to show both of them around the Marketplace and some other parts of town, but my dad being the expert traveler he is, had already adventured through most of town. He ended up showing ME Halle. ha!

    Sadly, they both left Thursday, but not before taking Lech, Carrie and me to the Halle Chocolate factory. Sorry South Bend, the Halle Chocolate factory is 10x better. Anything anyone has ever told you about chocolate before, forget it, because until you have German chocolate, you haven't actually had chocolate. Its amazing. SO GOOD -- so dangerous -- but oh so worth it. Family and friends, prepare yourselves! I already know I'm getting you chocolate for Christmas (so please just act surprised in a few months). :)

    Sunday afternoon, we FINALLY had our first game, well scrimmage. After three weeks two-a-days, scrimmaging against the same people day in and day out, all of us welcomed the chance to compete against some new faces. We ended up winning 88-81, and played well in spurts. Our team really has potential to do some great things this year. We just need to tweak a few more things in practice and just really get the hang of playing with each other. For me personally, its been interesting getting used to the German/European/FIBA/Halle Lions style of basketball.

    First, there are the rules to get used to. A 24-second shot clock, 8-second backcourt rule, a wider paint (by about 15 inches on each side -- and thus a need for more extension and power on post moves), and a couple other small nuisances with inbounding the ball, etc.

    Then there's the style of basketball that our coach, Peter, likes to play. Being the Americans, the ones who are actually paid to come over here, Peter expects us to be the leaders in almost every category whenever we play. This might sound normal, but to anyone who knows me and knows how I play basketball, I've kind of always been a role player. Yes, I'll be there to block a shot, grab a rebound, or hit a putback. I've never played on a team (not in high school, college, AAU, anything) where I was the (or one of) go-to scorer. Here, Peter wants me to have that role. I'm not saying this say I don't want it. I do. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity to grow as a player. It has just been an adjustment for me to be more aggressive on offense, make my moves more often, and use my teammates as much as possible while still being effective. It's obviously a work in progress, as anyone's game really should be, but I feel like I've been doing a good job so far. Every day I try to improve reading the defense (double teamed? pass it out to the open guard/one on one, take them) and the whole I'm-actually-a-scorer mentality. I know I have the ability to do so and to be effective, its just a matter of doing it on a consistent basis, and doing it well. Peter has been really good at making me work on those things. He yells at me when he needs to, and points out the small things I can improve to make myself better.

    Speaking of Peter, let me tell you a bit more about my head coach. He's a big guy. 6'5". Intimidating when he needs to be (yes, he would even intimidate Coach McGraw), but in my opinion a great coach. He understands the post. He understands the nuances of the game. I didn't exactly know what to expect heading overseas to play basketball. No, I didn't expect an incompetent coach, but I just really didn't know what to expect from him. I've really enjoyed playing for him thus far, and am really excited about this season.

    Today, we were given the day off and took advantage of it by touring the ruins of the Giebichenstein Castle. We pass it on the way home from one of our gyms and have always wanted to see what exactly it was and what the sights would look like from up there. Most of the castle itself has been left to ruins, with only the foundation showing except for the watch tower. Placed on top of a big rock face, along the Saale River, and near important trade routes, the castle played a pivotal role during the area's production of salt. Since it's up so high, it also provides for some really cool views of Halle and the surrounding area. Apparently, it dates back to the 9th century. Pretty interesting place. I might have mentioned this before, but every day I'm fascinated with the history of German towns and cities. There really aren't a lot of places in the states where you can find such rich history and life perspective on a regular basis.

    Needless to say, it's been a lot of fun going on all of our adventures, big and small, while we've been here. I know we have a ton more to explore, so I'm really looking forward to it! I'll be sure to bring ya'll along for the ride as often as possible!!

    Hope you have enjoyed my latest update! It's been a busy two weeks!

    I'll leave you with one of my new favorite German phrases (ok really only one of the few I know). Vas vist du alter? Translation: What do you want from me? Apparently, "alter" is a word really only used in the east, and is used when you're talking a friend or something similar. So basically, I walk around all day asking people what they want from me! I'll have to learn something new soon!!

    Tschuss!

    Erica

    August 12, 2010

    -- posted by 2010 Notre Dame women's basketball alum Erica Williamson

    After five days, 10 practices, and countless jump shots, we were given both Saturday and Sunday off. All of us were ready to relax and see a little bit more of Germany. Saturday afternoon, Carrie, Lech and I drove about 25 minutes to the next town over, Leipzig. There we walked around, saw some of the incredible architecture that seems to be everywhere in Europe, and finally tested out some German ice cream! Leipzig reminded all of us of Halle, but on a little bit of a bigger scale. We were all surprised by how much all of the stores in Leipzig reminded us of places we would be able to find in the US. We even found a North Face store.

    Saturday night we met up with a good Notre Dame friend, and fellow 2010 ND athletic alum, Michele Weissenhoffer, who is playing soccer over in Germany for SG Essen. In town for a match on Sunday, we stopped by her hotel to say hi and catch up. It still baffles me that we were able to see someone from 'home' so quickly into our German adventure. The world is such a small place!

    On Sunday morning, we drove back to Leipzig to watch Michele's game. Although she had warned us, the team she played was ... well to put it lightly ... terrible. In their defense, they were a Fourth Division team, playing Michele's team, a First Division (or Bundesliga) team, and it clearly showed. Michele played really well and even if it was a terrible game, it was fun to see her out on the field again. Just like the good old Notre Dame days!

    Nothing else is really planned for the rest of this afternoon. On Monday, we started up again with practice, and our coach has warned us that this week is going to be pretty crazy. After focusing on inputting three offenses last week, I'm interested to see what he has in store in terms of defense this week. All around, basketball has been going really well in the past week, and having to guard Carrie, who is more of an outside player than me, has been a welcomed change. I'm definitely looking forward to the day though when Carrie and I will finally be able to play together!

    Well, time to make dinner!

    Tschau!

    Erica

    August 6, 2010

    -- posted by 2010 Notre Dame women's basketball alum Erica Williamson

    Sorry its taken me so long to write my first blog from Germany! Things have been pretty busy over here. After a rather uneventful 12 hours of traveling, I made it safely to the Leipzig/Halle airport on Saturday morning tired, but thankful that all of my bags made it, I didn't lose anything, and someone was there to pick us up! All in all, a successful travel experience!

    Saturday afternoon I got acquainted with my new apartment, which I hope to have pictures up of soon. Our internet is a bit slow at the moment before we get our wireless set up, so access to visual aids is a bit limited at the moment. Pictures and videos will have to wait for now. Altogether, I am highly impressed by the quality of everything here. I wasn't planning on living in a dump by any means, but I am slightly surprised with our apartment and everything in it. I lucked out and have a queen size bed -- the only one amongst the four Americans -- in a pretty spacious bedroom. Two windows face the street and nearby park, which provides for a lot of natural light and fresh air. I've already decorated it with lots of pictures I brought from home.

    Lech and I have a pretty spacious living room, complete with a TV, large L-shaped couch (comfy too, with plenty of room for visitors!), two nice big rocking chairs, and a table to play cards, etc. We have all the comforts of home in our kitchen; a dishwasher, microwave, toaster, fairly decent (by European standards) sized fridge, stove top, and oven. Needless to say, we are very lucky and thankful that our apartment came fully furnished and stocked with all the necessary utensils, cooking items, pots, and pas. I think both of us would be lost (and probably very hungry) if we didn't have them here when we arrived. We are also fortunate enough to have a washer, a shower that fits both of us, and a nice view of the courtyard outside the back of our apartment.

    All in all, we couldn't be happier with our apartment. Everything is so nice. Lech and I have both commented countless times how it doesn't even feel like we're in a foreign country. It really helps to ease the transition to know that your living space isn't something you have to adapt to as well. Everything has worked out surprisingly nice, well except for the 60 steps (and 3 floors) that separate us from the front door. Those of you who know me well, or have lived with me, know how much I hate stairs! ha ha I guess we can't have everything though :)

    Saturday afternoon Carrie -- one of the other Americans on our team, an '09 grad from UPenn -- and I ventured out by ourselves and hit up the local grocery store, about a five minute walk from our apartments. On our way in, an elderly woman stopped us and started talking to us, while making motions of a basketball shot. Carrie and I looked at each other dumbfounded, not knowing how to react. Despite trying to tell her in the best German we knew that we don't speak German, we weren't able to send the message. How bad is it that we can't even explain to someone that we don't speak German! haha We're learning, but learning slowly! I'm sure it won't be the last time this happens o us, but it was still a pretty funny experience to have on the first day. At least it makes me want to learn the language even more!

    Later that night, another one of the Americans, well Germans, well both -- Karla -- arrived from her home in Frankfurt. Karla, a German citizen who played Division I basketball at St. Francis (N.Y.), in what still continues to impress me, is fluent in German, English (slang included), Czech, French, and Latin. Needless to say, she has quickly become an incredible lifeline and lifesaver, and is already on speed dial! After she was able to settle in a bit, the three of us set out to check out the scenery and the feel around town. After a couple random right, left, and U-turns, we happened upon the center of Halle, a big area known as the Market Place. In what reminds me of a large square, typical of many old European cities and towns, the Market Place is surrounded by clothing stores, shops and restaurants, with tiny off-streets all along the sides. Although most of the stores weren't open, it was nice to get acquainted with a bit of Halle, and know there were some cool places to go when we had some free time.

    Sunday afternoon, after picking Lech up from the airport and showing her around the apartment, the entire team headed over to one of our managers, Connie's house for a team BBQ. There, we were able to meet most of our teammates, our new head coach Peter, and many of the other people affiliated with the team who will be helping us throughout the season. Everyone was incredibly nice and welcoming, always smiling, and eager and willing to help with anything we might need. I honestly don't think I could have asked for a better group of people to be around in a foreign country. There seems to be someone to help with everything. A cell phone? Done. A car/directions? Done. Translations? Done. Our team, SV Halle, really reminds me of a big family. Connie is both our manager, and a sponsor of the team with her husband, Uli. Their daughter, Franzie is another one of our managers, a current part-time player, and a former full-time member of the squad (for over 10 years!). Ralf, who arranged all of our travel and helped set up our apartments, had a family member who was on the team a couple of years ago. Everyone seems greatly dedicated to our success on the court, but also incredibly nice and easygoing off of it.

    All in all, I feel incredibly blessed by the position I'm in. I'm playing the game I love (and getting paid to do it!!) with one of my best friends, in a great city, with incredible teammates (and new friends), for a knowledgeable, serious, but jovial coach, on a team with a dedicated support group, in a foreign country that seems to have so many incredible things to offer. Between the living conditions, the friendly and helpful people I've met, and the level of basketball here, I don't think I could ask for a better situation. I thank my lucky stars every night that everything has worked out so well so far, and hoping that things only get better as time passes.

    Well that's it for now! It's wayyy past my bedtime! Hopefully I'll be back soon to talk more about the basketball side of things!

    Until next time!

    Miss you all,

    Erica

    August 5, 2010

    -- posted by sophomore guard Kaila Turner

    Hi everyone!

    This summer, the girls and I have been working really hard in order to have a successful upcoming season. We began workouts after our camps ended on June 21 and have been going hard ever since. In addition to workouts, we each have taken two classes over the course of the summer. Our weekly routine goes a little like this:

    On Mondays, we have a 6:45 a.m. lift which usually consists of treadmill sprints and squats. On Tuesdays, we run in the Loftus Center on the indoor football field at 7 a.m. We run to the 50-yard line and back in under 20 seconds. Some days, we will run 10 and others we will run about 15 sprints. On Wednesdays, we are in the weight room at 6:45 a.m. where we do exercises such as pull-ups, step-ups and power cleans. On Thursdays at 7:00 a.m., we usually either run a timed mile or we do a bike workout. The bike workout consists of bike sprints along with a 3-mile bike trial that is also timed. On Fridays at 6:30 a.m., we are either in The Pit (our practice gym), where we do agility drills along with court sprints, and then we continue our workout in the weight room or we are outside the weight room doing circuit training. Circuits consist of about 4 or 5 different exercises that are each about 5 minutes long. Also, throughout the week we play pick-up games 3 times and everyone gets in the gym to do individual workouts on their own at their own time.

    Although we have long and busy days with morning workouts and classes afterwards, we love having the opportunity to get better using the great facilities we have at Notre Dame. We are blessed to be able to workout and play the sport that we love everyday. Right about now, my friends are working summer jobs at the mall or at restaurants, while I have the opportunity to get prepared to play in front of thousands of amazing Irish fans. This is our last week of school and workouts, and as much as we enjoy spending our summers together, everyone is excited to see friends and family at home. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer ... Go Irish!!

    By the way, I recommend everyone go see "Inception" before the summer is over -- that movie is amazing!!!

    Kaila Turner #15

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Kaila also recently gave a hilarious guided video tour of the Notre Dame women's basketball locker room ... check it out by CLICKING HERE.

    August 4, 2010 -- Entry 2

    -- the following op-ed column was printed in the South Bend Tribune on July 29

    We could wait until June 2011 to congratulate University of Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw. That's when she will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

    But why wait? Basketball is a game of many rules. Not one of them says we can't recognize McGraw both now, upon the announcement of the Hall of Fame class, and then again next spring.

    McGraw's career, including 23 years at ND, rates double praise.

    First, of course, there is her winning record in every measurable area, which undoubtedly is what the Hall of Fame electors had in mind. The statistics are indeed impressive, including a 100 percent graduation rate for McGraw players.

    The data duly noted, it has taken more than numbers to form the bond Notre Dame women's basketball has with this community.

    One explanation is ND's record of recruiting, developing and showcasing local talent. Each season, gifted young women from this area display their skills in the Purcell Pavilion, as they work on becoming among the best players in the nation.

    But local talent isn't the whole reason this community loves ND women's basketball. When the 9,149-seat arena sells out for home games, it is because of the fans' strong sense that this is their team. And McGraw is their coach. As the team is introduced, the cheering is especially loud for her.

    Congratulations to Coach McGraw for a well-deserved honor. The Notre Dame community is pleased and proud. And so is the Michiana community.

    August 4, 2010 -- Entry 1

    -- posted by 2001 Notre Dame graduate/All-American and consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley

    Hey Irish fans, this is Ruth Riley, checking in with you from San Antonio, Texas. We had a rare day off on Monday, since I am a huge football fan, I headed over to the Alamo Dome to watch the Dallas Cowboys in their training camp. As I glanced down the roster at the colleges, I was excited to see that there was at least one Golden Domer on the squad, the rookie: Sam Young. Then, I made the mistake of looking over to the "years of experience" column, where I was a little surprised by the fact that I was older than 90% of the players on their team! It's hard to believe this is my 10th season in the WNBA!!

    Where has the time gone? Was it really 10 years ago that we were beating undefeated UConn at home in front of a sold out crowd, ensuring our first #1 ranking in the polls? Has it really been 10 years since I last painted my fingernails green to guarantee we would have the luck of the Irish on our side throughout the NCAA tournament? Is it possible that 10 years has passed since I was shooting the last 2 free throws of my collegiate career and then watching the time expire as we celebrated our first National Championship in St. Louis??

    This fall, my teammates and I are extremely excited to return to Notre Dame for our 10-year National Championship reunion. We look forward to sharing some of those memorable times with you all as we return Nov 12th to watch the girls kick off their season at home vs. New Hampshire and then sticking around on Saturday to see the football team take on Utah.

    As I think back over my basketball career, all I can say is that I have been blessed. Without a doubt, my experiences at Notre Dame have shaped me into the person and player I am today, and I will be eternally grateful to Coach McGraw for giving me the opportunity to play there. Over the years, I have worn many different jerseys, representing various teams here and abroad, but one thing will never change: my heart will always bleed the colors of my beloved Blue and Gold!!! Looking forward to seeing you all this fall!!

    Go Irish!!

    Ruth #00

    August 2, 2010

    -- posted by associate athletics director/women's basketball administrator Jill Bodensteiner

    Hi all,

    Lech and I are back from Jamaica where we spent an incredible week helping at the Jumpball basketball camp for kids in Kingston. What an amazing experience! The camp was founded by Notre Dame alums William Maloney and Chad Sutcliffe, and this was the 16th annual Jumpball! Kudos to Will and Chad for their dedication to this awesome project.

    We had a great crew from the US, including 8 of the usual suspects who have been doing Jumpball for several years. This group includes my good friend Amanda Hall, who use to coach at Saint Mary's College and who now teaches and coaches in Las Vegas. We also had a great group of new (aka "young") folks join us. In addition to Lech, we had Katie Danko and Bobby Curley from Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball. The connection between Jumpball and Bookstore is really growing, and Katie and Bobby were tremendous additions. Three Peace Corps volunteers stationed in Jamaica were also an amazing help and really fun to be with - thanks Taylor, Daniel and Connor!

    Camp was unbelievable - best ever! We had well over 250 kids at the national stadium in Kingston. As you would imagine, Lech was a big hit with the kids. She warmed them up every morning with some exercises and ball handling drills, and then ran a great ball handling station along with her Jamaican sidekick, Lefty (one of about 40 wonderful Jamaicans who staff the camp). Lech soaked it all in and quickly fell in love with Jamaica and its people. Amanda, Lech and I stayed after camp a few nights to play with some of the Jamaican coaches. It was fun to see Lech back in action (yes, she dominated); the Halle Lions in Germany are in for a treat! After one of our pick-up games, some kids approached Lech and said "Miss, you were brilliant!"

    At night, we explored Kingston a little, worked out (some more than others), and enjoyed some pool time. We had some great dinners - jerk chicken (actually, I'm a vegetarian so I had some "jerk soup"), amazing Mexican food, and Indian/Thai at one of our favorite restaurants in Kingston called Akbar. We settled in a few nights at a bar called Reggae City, where Lech and I bonded with the locals and even convinced some aspiring DJs to create a fabulous reggae mix CD for us (thanks Taj and Gifton).

    After camp ended on Friday, we drove to the north side of Jamaica and spent a few days relaxing at Breeze's Runaway Bay. It was much-needed rest for me, and I had a great time bonding with Lech and Amanda. By the way ... after spending quality time with Lech these past few weeks, I can officially report that she is as good of a person and as fun to be with as she seems to you all! (Lech, if you are reading this from Germany, thanks for sharing your emotional intelligence ☺) . My favorite day was Sunday, when Daniel and Connor from the Peace Corps took Lech, Amanda and I off the beaten path to a gorgeous waterfall and swimming hole called Blue Hole. We literally walked down the face of a waterfall and jumped in - it was really, really scary but amazing.

    You can check out some of the photos we took on our trip by CLICKING HERE.

    Before I go, let me give a quick thanks to Curt Rallo at the South Bend Tribune for the great article on the Jumpball program before we left. Enjoy the summer, everyone ... I'm getting REALLY excited for next season!

    Go Irish!!

    Jill

    July 29, 2010

    -- posted by 2010 Notre Dame women's basketball alum Erica Williamson

    Hello Everyone! (or should I say Guten Tag!)

    Welcome to my blog! I thought it might be fun to chronicle my experiences and adventures, well maybe misadventures, while I'm in Germany next year! I hope to be able to give you all a glimpse of my life in Halle, both on and off the court.

    I'm looking forward to this amazing opportunity to see the world playing the sport I love. I'm young, single, and fresh out of college, so the real world, jobs, and bills can wait! Having missed out on the opportunity to study abroad while at Notre Dame, I'm eagerly anticipating all that Germany and life abroad has to offer.

    I'll be joined on the SV Halle Lions by one of my partners in crime from ND, Melissa Lechlitner. With her along for the ride, there is no doubt that there will be countless misadventures and road stops during our days in Deutschland!

    Hopefully, I'll be able to post some pictures and videos from time to time, so that all of you will be able to get a closer look!

    It's officially one day until I take off! Can't believe the summer has flown by this fast, but here I am, moving out of the country. I'm still trying to figure out how on earth I'm going to be able to pack up my life into two small duffel bags and move thousands of miles away. Guess we'll find out soon enough!

    I'll miss you all while I'm over there. Until next time...

    GO IRISH!

    Erica Williamson (#52 forever!)

    July 26, 2010

    -- posted by assistant coach Niele Ivey

    Hey Irish fans,

    I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacation and having fun. I am currently on the road in Washington, DC and headed home to St. Louis to spend some time with my son, Jaden. I have had a great and busy summer. In June, I hosted my Ultimate Point Guard camp at Notre Dame and I thought it went extremely well. We had almost 100 campers that attended the camp this summer and to those that came, I want to personally thank you. We had an amazing group of campers. They were energetic, fun, and eager to learn. That is all that matters to me. It was a joy to come to camp every morning and watch the campers working hard in drills and working well with others. I try to make sure at my camps for the kids to learn a lot of basic fundamentals skills in order to be a successful point guard and to have fun and learn how to be a leader while you are learning those skills. This summer we had a scavenger hunt to help with teaching skills on how to be a leader and we also a talent show. The talent show was FABULOUS! We had some technical difficultites with the microphone, but continued the show and it turned out to be a hit. I have to say that Jaden and another camper stole the show. They ended in a dance-off and shut the whole arena down! It was absolutely hilarious and tons of fun.

    In July, I have been in and out of many different cities and living out of my bag which, by the way, is ridiculously heavy. From Cincinnati to Louisville to Lexington to Orlando, Murfreesboro, DC, Bloomington, and Georgia and finally Chicago, my schedule has been hectic and busy. I have looked at a lot of kids and excited to know that there are some really talented underclassman!! After this recruiting period, I plan on relaxing and spending some much needed time with my family.

    I hope that everyone continues to have a safe and productive rest of the summer and I look forward to preparing for next year so we can get to the Final Four right in our own backyard in Indianapolis!

    Go Irish!

    Coach Ivey

    July 23, 2010

    -- posted by associate coach Carol Owens

    Hello everyone!

    My trip to France was nice. Quick as it was, I got to enjoy the sights, good food, and a little basketball. It was nice to be over there and be a part of the excitement that the Tour de France brought. Although I couldn't get close to see the race and see Lance Armstrong cycle through, it was cool just to be in the city where it was happening. Through my travels in France, I found that there are many followers of the Tour de France from all over the country. My understanding is that these people travel to various towns to get a glimpse of their favorite cyclist or just be true fans. It was nice to have learned more about it.

    My mission for coming over to France was accomplished. The U17 World Championships were run very well and the U.S. team looked superior -- the future is bright for USA basketball! Also, while I was there, I got to know some of the college coaches I probably would not have talked to very much. Usually when we coaches are out recruiting, we are busy evaluating, taking notes and trying to figure out who to see next. Being in a foreign country sometimes draws together people who are familiar with each other. I met some cool coaches who I hope to stay in touch with.

    On my last day in Rodez, I got to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. It had to be centuries old. It needed lots of work, especially on the exterior. It looks as though it was in the beginning stages of being restored. It was twice the size of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus. I lit a candle for the Irish!!

    One of my colleagues was gracious enough to invite me to ride in the car with her back to Toulouse. I was surprised how easy the drive was was. I almost regretted not renting a car ... almost! LOL

    I flew out the next day, Toulouse to Munich then on to Chicago. Now on to DC!!

    Special thanks to Coach McGraw for letting me represent the Irish!

    Go Irish!

    Coach Owens

    July 22, 2010

    -- posted by junior guard Fraderica Miller

    On Tuesday, Becca, Dev, Natalie, Skylar, and I went to the South Bend YMCA for a few hours to talk hoops with the campers, who were split up into three groups between the ages of 6 and 12. We asked questions to see what they knew about basketball such as how many points you get for shooting a layup. Also, we explained basketball concepts such as a jump ball and fouls. Then, we took them through various fun drills to teach them some basic basketball skills, like dribbling and shooting. We had a dribbling relay race where we split the group into two teams and had the kids do a relay race, dribbling with one hand all the way to the other end of the court and back. I got really into the relay races and I had my team cheering each other on and just trying to get them to have fun.

    You can see a photo gallery of our day at the South Bend YMCA by CLICKING HERE.

    I really enjoy doing community service, especially when it has to do with younger kids. I'm the oldest of five so I'm used to entertaining kids. I love being around little kids because it reminds me of how influential I can be. I love seeing how excited kids get when they are around us. There was a nine-year-old girl at the YMCA that I fell in love with. When she walked into the gym, I told her that I liked her shirt and then she asked me a few questions. She asked me when did I start playing basketball and do I like scary movies. I told her I started playing basketball when I was nine, just like her, and that I loved scary movies. She told me that she loved scary movies too, and then she said we have so much in common and that I was her new best friend. When she left she ran and gave me a hug and said she would miss me. I was with her for about 40 minutes and she got so attached.

    I just love how I'm able to reach out to younger kids and allow them to see that I wasn't any different than they were when I was their age. I think it is so important that we as student-athletes continue to give back to the community as much as possible. The way we are able to impact and influence the lives of younger kids is remarkable and very rewarding. I had a lot of fun at the YMCA and look forward to going back.

    Go Irish!

    Fraderica Miller #12

    July 16, 2010 - Entry #2

    -- posted by associate coach Carol Owens

    Bonjour!

    Here come the Irish ... all the way from France! I arrived in Toulouse, France yesterday. After a long trip, checking into the hotel, I decided to go into town. I wanted to take in some of the sights but first things first, find a crepe shop. My favorite crepe is the chocolate with whipped cream -- ooh la la! The walk around town was nice. A lot of nice shops. I wish I would've brought an extra bag.

    Today I left Toulouse early and took the train to Rodez where the preliminary games for U17 World Championships are taking place. It was a two-hour train ride without AC. Despite the heat, the trip was nice. The view was beautiful. Hills, farm land, rivers, and lakes ... all so picturesque. Ah, I'm the luckiest coach in the world!

    I arrived in Rodez and checked into my hotel. I'm literally staying in a castle. I believe it was turned into a hotel years ago. The room is ok but once again no AC. If Coach McGraw can go without AC and power for a week after that bad storm we had, surely I can survive without AC for a couple of days.

    Now I'm about to watch USA play.

    Go Irish!

    Coach Owens

    July 16, 2010 - Entry #1

    -- posted by junior guard Natalie Novosel

    Hey Irish Fans!! I thought I would check-in and give you an update. I know you're just as excited as I am about this upcoming season. We're already a month into training this summer, and it has been really productive so far. We're making a lot of progress already and it feels like we haven't skipped a beat since leaving for home in May. I've noticed that this year's team is pretty different compared to last year's team. We're very quick, and we're going to be playing at a really fast pace, and get up and down the court. It's been great playing pick-up because I really enjoy how competitive we are and every game is a must-win game for us. If we're this intense in games this summer against random guys, imagine how we're going to be against teams come season time! It's very exciting!!

    We're working hard, but we're having fun too! We saw Toy Story 3 and recommend it as a must-see!! :) We also have been some doing some events around the community. This past week we had some kids in for a little party at the Purcell for the winner of one of our Pink Zone silent auction items. It was so much fun. It made me feel like a kid again. We did relay races, hot shot competitions, showed some videos, sang and gave tours.

    I would like to give a shoutout to my family! I miss you and will see you soon. I hope your summer is going as well as ours, take care! Gooooo Irish!

    Natalie "Nasty" Novosel #21

    July 11, 2010

    -- posted by associate coach Carol Owens

    Hey Irish Family! Ok, is everybody over the LeBron James saga? I'm so over it. Hopefully, we can move on and concentrate on more important things like what's going on with the Irish.

    Well I'm sure you all have heard that Coach McGraw is being inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame! I have always thought she was one the best coaches in our game. Now it has the stamp of approval!! When I read all of her accomplishments -- all I can say is wow! Not a lot of coaches can do what she has done. She is a mentor and a great friend. We are so proud of her!!

    In my last blog Coach McGraw and I were in Ames. Coach McGraw had been out three days straight so it's best that we gave her a day off (never have your head coach out for more than 4 days).

    As for me, I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky ... Boy, it's some kind of hot here! This place makes me want to go to the Kentucky Derby ... I gotta buy a hat right? I am here with Niele Ivey. I can't believe we are working together. I'm so proud of her. Being around her is always fun. I know with work comes a little play, and that's always good. Niele is the funniest person I know which will make for an enjoyable season. Also, a lot of Coach McGraw's coaching tree is here. It's always a good time when we can see each other on the road.

    Tomorrow is another busy day. Our goal is to see a lot of young prospects and enhance our database for 2012, 2013 and beyond. Yes, we recruit them that young! You have to start early if you want to get ahead. We want to be on top of our game!!

    Well that's all for now.

    'Til next time ... Go Irish!

    Coach Owens

    July 7, 2010

    -- posted by associate coach Carol Owens

    Hello Irish family and friends. I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! My weekend was great! I spent the weekend with family. My mom is a great cook! I'm going miss her cooking this month.

    Welcome to the first installment of my blog. As you know the month of July is one of the busiest times for recruiting. The Irish are out and on the move across the country.

    Here come the Irish!!

    Due to NCAA rules I'm not allowed to mention players by name. I assure you, we are looking at some of the best!!

    First of all, I would like to say how excited I am to be back at Notre Dame! A lot has changed on campus but the family atmosphere and the Notre Dame spirit remains the same!

    First trip out for me was Ames, Iowa. The travel was almost perfect ... almost. All the flights were on time however my bags did not make the destination. Ugh! Travel is such an adventure, don't you just love it!

    Finally! 2:30 am my bag was delivered.

    July 6 is the first day we can evaluate. It was a full day of watching games. And since I just rejoined the staff two months ago, I have had to play catch up on all the recruits listed in our database.

    During July it is also a time to connect with colleagues and talk a little X's and O's in between games.

    Here in Ames, the facilities have been good. The good thing is most of the games I have watched are in the same gym. Driving long distances to various sites are a pain. Seeing the players you need to see all in one site is priceless.

    Going to an event with a good hospitality area with snacks is always a plus.

    I ventured off through town for dinner and found this little bbq resturant ... it wasn't bad for bbq in Iowa.

    After dinner it's back in the gym to watch games. I was one of a few who stayed for the 9:30 game. Wouldn't you know it, that game went into overtime. Finally back in my hotel room around 11:15. It's off to bed and then I'll do this all again tomorrow.

    I will be back in touch in a couple of days to and update you on my travels.

    Until then ... Go Irish!

    Coach Owens

    December 8, 2009

    -- posted by assistant sports information director Chris Masters

    Just a quick heads-up and congratulations to senior center Erica Williamson, who has signed on as an intern with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's women's basketball weekly podcast, "Shootaround With Beth & Debbie" with national TV broadcasters Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli. Erica will be writing regular blog entries for the show (each of which can be read by CLICKING HERE), which will be posted on the show's web page (found by CLICKING HERE). For you die-hard women's basketball enthusiasts, this is the best show to listen to each week, especially when it's supported by the WBCA and hosted by two people as passionate about our sport as Beth and Debbie.

    In fact, we'll get a chance to see Debbie in person at the end of the month, as she broadcasts our games at Central Florida (Dec. 29) and at home vs. Vanderbilt (Dec. 31) for CBS College Sports. If you see her at either game, please stop by, say hello and let her know all about our Irish!

    All for now ... time to get ready for tonight's visit by IPFW ... hope to see you out at Purcell!

    Chris

    December 2, 2009

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    Wow! What a great trip to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2009 Paradise Jam. I put together my Top 10 highlights from the trip.

    10. Hitchhikers - Our sport administrator/Associate Athletics Director Jill Bodensteiner and trainer, Anne Marquez almost missed the team bus to the airport on Sunday because they took an excursion to St. John in the Virgin Islands (the next island over from St. Thomas). They ran into some unexpected troubles on their way back from hiking on the beautiful island and almost had to stay in St. Thomas. They made it though with some great stories about the Island Lady, the father and son from Flint, Michigan and the deer along the trails.

    9. BASSSSKKKKETTTTBAALLLL - The public address announcer for the Paradise Jam was outstanding. His island accent accompanied by his enthusiasm made it very entertaining throughout the games. Many times he would mispronounce our players' names (Lick-lite-ner or Brooz-ewski) or hometowns (Mish-awaki) , but you couldn't correct him because he was hilarious. One time, he just forgot to announce Lindsay in the starting line-up. She just ran out when he said "and the head coach for the Fighting Irish is Muffet McGraw." He would start every game with "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, let's play some BAAAASSSSKKKETTTBALLLL!" After every point, he would say "Shot Good." I wish we could bring him back for a few games here at Notre Dame during the winter months, so we feel like we are on vacation.

    8. Safari Buses - The team rode on safari buses to and from the games, which were rundown, open-air buses. My curly hair was gigantic from the humidity and the warm wind. Some of us felt a little nauseous driving on the windy mountain roads, but the scenery was amazing, so you just got used to it.

    7. The Beach - The players and coaches snuck down to the beach every chance they got. Crystal-clear waters and a hot sun made for a great day on Sunday. The entire team laid out on the beach and threw around a frisbee in the water just before departing on the team bus to the airport to head home.

    6. The Halftime Shows - During halftime of the San Diego State game, Lindsay's dad, Darcy, had to dance to the "circle song", which is a well-known song in the Caribbean. In addition to following the PA announcer's instruction on the dance, he inserted the infamous "sprinkler." Lindsay caught a glimpse as the team was preparing to run out of the tunnel for second-half warmups and was mortified. Lech's mom, Lori, and brother, Kyle, took part in a shooting contest at halftime of the South Carolina game. Let's just say that Lech doesn't get her shooting ability from her mom. Congrats to Kyle for winning the contest!

    5. Welcome Party - Our first full day on the trip, the team took a gondola up to Paradise Point, which is the highest point on St. Thomas. At the top, we saw one of the best bird shows. The birds were riding scooters and talking to us. We were rolling with laughter after watching the exotic parrots perform for us. We then ate a great meal under the stars overlooking the lights of St. Thomas. I could eat the pineapple on the island every day! Having fresh fruit for every meal was awesome!

    4. Sunsets - Erica Williamson took unbelievable pictures of the sunsets on the island. One of them is currently the wallpaper on my computer. Check out the opening picture in the photo gallery (the link is below).

    3. Coach's 500th Career Win at Notre Dame - Congratulations to Coach McGraw for winning her 500th game at Notre Dame against San Diego State on November 26th. What a huge accomplishment! I am so happy I was a part of it.

    2. Catamaran Tour - One of my favorite parts of the trip was the catamaran/snorkel tour on the Caribbean. We cruised on yacht, where we got to sunbathe all the way to our snorkel spot. I am so proud of Kaila Turner and Erica Solomon, who although were very scared to get in the water, jumped in the water with their life vests and noodles. When it was time to come back to the boat, our trainer Anne and Brittany Mallory started swimming in the opposite direction. They were swimming after sea turtles, but couldn't quite catch-up to them. We saw plenty of fish and as Lindsay said "We found Nemo!" Some of us even swam to the bottom and touched the sand. What an awesome experience!

    1. Winning the 2009 Paradise Jam! - It truly felt like the beginning of great things to come for the 2009-10 team. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the Oklahoma game and we won 81-71, the team went crazy. Everyone received bright orange hats and held up the trophy as if it were the national championship trophy. That was the icing on the cake for a great trip. 3 Days. 3 Wins!

    Check out our pictures from our tour in this PHOTO GALLERY.

    Can't wait to see everyone with our tans! Go Irish!

    Stephanie

    November 10, 2009

    -- posted by assistant sports information director Chris Masters

    Welcome back Irish fans,

    Hope you're as ready for the 2009-10 season as I am! We had a good showing in our exhibition game last week against Indianapolis, both on the court and in the stands. In fact, you were responsible for the largest exhibition game attendance (7,508) in Notre Dame women's basketball history -- hopefully just the first of many records we'll be setting during the upcoming year.

    Just wanted to take a quick timeout for a couple of "Fighting For Fashion" updates, courtesy of our assistant coach Niele Ivey. First off, she wanted me to pass along that former Notre Dame forward Julie Henderson ('00) was recently named one of the nation's top plus-sized models by Tyra Banks. Check out this link for more information: http://www.tyrabanks.com/view/MODEL_CITY_PLUS_SIZE.

    Closer to home, Coach Ivey is set to roll out the options for the first of her "fan's choice" outfits this season. For those of you not familiar with this concept, Coach will offer three potential outfits to wear for an upcoming game, and you get to vote on which one you want to see her wear. Right now, Coach is looking for your input on what she should wear for the season opener on Sunday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff ... here are the three choices: OPTION 1, OPTION 2, and OPTION 3.

    E-mail your vote for Coach Ivey's Arkansas-Pine Bluff outfit to our coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio at smenio@nd.edu. The deadline for voting is Friday at 5 p.m. (ET), so make sure to vote early -- you can vote as often as you'd like!

    In the meantime, if you haven't done so already, make sure to get your tickets for Sunday night's opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET), and if you can't make it to the brand-new Purcell Pavilion (which is AWESOME, by the way!), you can hear the radio broadcast right here at UND.com -- just click on the "Listen" button in the "Athletics This Week" box on the front page of our web site.

    That's all for now ... get ready, Notre Dame fans 'cause it's gonna be one heck of a ride ... GO IRISH!!

    Chris

    October 13, 2009

    -- posted by assistant coach Niele Ivey -- Fighting For Fashion 2009-10

    Hello fans,

    I just got back from my long trip to Los Angeles, and was so happy to be home. All the traffic and hustle, bustle of the big city was very overwhelming for me. I was over it after 24 hours of being there. However, I did have the best rental car ever. I had a 2010 Camaro that looked like it was right out of the movie, Transformers!! It was silver and FAST. That was pretty cool considering the next rental I got was a Subaru. Anyway, I anticipated a great trip to Rodeo Drive and meeting the Kardashians at their family boutique called Dash, but unfortunately that didn't go as planned. I was in California recruiting, so I decided to use some of my down time to check out some of the popular areas of Hollywood to shop and sight see. Traffic in L.A. was ridiculous. It literally took me almost an hour and a half to go about 30 miles.

    The first place I decided to visit was the store Dash which is run by the popular reality TV family, the Kardashians. I left early enough from my hotel, so I wouldn't be pressed for time when headed to my open gym to watch some of our recruits. I pulled up to the store and it was empty. I asked around and found out that the stores don't open till 11 am and it was 9 am. All that for nothing! I wanted to invite the store to participate in our "Fighting for Fashion" campaign, where they can donate an outfit for Coach McGraw and I, to wear to a game this season. I had some Notre Dame t-shirts and some flyers and pamphlets explaining my desire to use fashion for breast cancer awareness, but I had to leave it in their mailbox and hope that they look at it and decide to help.

    After failing to meet the Kardashians, I continued my tour of L.A. and drove to Rodeo Drive. It was amazing!! So many high end stores all within walking distance, such as Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, and many, many more expensive stores and boutiques. I was trying to find the store that kicked Julia Roberts out in the movie, Pretty Woman, but I didn't have time!! LOL!! That area was definitely an area where I couldn't personally shop, but it was fun to window shop! Well, not that fun. I wanted almost everything I saw. I did get to my favorite store H & M in the mall in Brea, Calif., and found a couple of great items that were very affordable and really nice!! I found a couple of dresses and a beautiful purple sweater! So my trip wasn't entirely in vain, I did come away with some amazing pieces that I would never have found in South Bend.

    That brings me to some more fall trends for you all to look for. The next great fall trend is Ruffles. Whether it is a romantic blouse with ruffles, detailed pumps or ankle boots with ruffles, or a pencil-thin skirt with ruffles, this style is very feminine, classy, and easy to pull off. Find pieces that are flattering to your body, I actually just found a red pair of heels that have ruffles on the front of them. How I found both trends of red and ruffles all in one, I will never know but these shoes are HOT! I will probably wear them to one of our big televised games. They are extremely unique and surprisingly comfortable! Look out for those!!

    I hope you enjoy these fashion tips and I hope to help you as you prepare for our season. It is finally here!! Happy shopping!!

    Coach Ivey

    October 12, 2009

    -- posted by Notre Dame women's basketball fan/Spirit Patrol member Wanda Gall

    Hi Notre Dame Women's Basketball Fans!

    I am a Notre Dame women's basketball fan of many years and a member of the Middlebury Walks for a Cure board. I would like to share my blog from our recent walk to raise money for Elkhart County.

    Sunday October 4, 2009 was a radiantly "pink" day even though the sky was gray and the air a little breezy. However the atmosphere inside the Das Essen Haus Conference center was buzzing with warm emotions as we celebrated the 5th Annual Middlebury Walks for a Cure. Our keynote speaker, Head Coach Muffet McGraw, said she could feel the collective energy and emotions of the approx. 400 walkers and 100 runners that packed the conference room. The crowd of survivors, friends and families of all ages responded warmly as Coach inspired us to "keep on running the race" and then led us in a rousing cheer of "I WON!" (Editors' note: A photo gallery of Coach McGraw's appearance can be found by clicking here: PHOTO GALLERY)

    The event raised just over $15,000 this year even though the economy of Elkhart County is still in a depressed condition. All funds raised are divided between The Goshen Health Systems: The Retreat and United Cancer Services Inc. of Elkhart County. The Retreat will use the money to assist woman that may need screening mammograms. United Cancer Services will financially assist cancer patients and their families with many needs including transportation, utility bills, testing and medications.

    It was truly a radiant day highlighted by Coach McGraw's willingness to share her time and talent at another community event. Thank-you Coach, you are truly "in the pink" with the Irish fans in Middlebury!

    GO IRISH!

    Wanda Gall

    October 5, 2009

    -- posted by associate athletics director/women's basketball administrator Jill Bodensteiner

    Hello Notre Dame Women's Basketball Fans -

    This is my first BasketBlog entry, but not my first blog. When I went to China a few years ago with the Notre Dame Executive MBA program, I kept a daily blog about my travels. The main difference between the China blog and this blog is that the BasketBlog is not censored by the Chinese government! Seriously, I think some parts of my China blog entries mysteriously disappeared...

    Anyway, who am I and why am I writing this? I am the newly-appointed sport administrator for the women's basketball team. Our Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, maintains primary sport administrator responsibility for football and men's and women's basketball, so I'll work closely with him (yes, that will be "Jack and Jill") to provide the coaches with administrative assistance.

    In addition to my role with women's basketball, in my capacity as an Associate Athletics Director, I oversee the athletics department's compliance efforts and work on legal issues impacting the department. I just started this job on July 1, after 11+ years as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at Notre Dame. So far, I love my job, and I couldn't be more excited to work with women's basketball.

    I don't have any great scoop yet about the team because I'm just getting to know the players and coaching staff. The thing that strikes me immediately about the student-athletes on the team is that they are incredible representatives of the University of Notre Dame. They are respectful. They are dedicated to community service. They are responsible. But you all knew that already!

    When I'm not working, I love to travel (international and domestic) and to watch and play sports. I'm just getting pretty into golf, but basketball is my first love. I watch college or pro basketball every night during the season. In addition to Notre Dame sports, I am a huge Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. I grew up in Valparaiso, IN, and went to Notre Dame for my undergraduate degree. Random trivia fact: my freshman year roommate in Pasquerilla West was Sara Liebscher, who played for Coach McGraw from 1987-91. She is still one of my best friends, and now we both work in the Joyce Center. Very fun. Finally, I definitely will not steal any thunder from Coach Ivey's fashion efforts. I have never been known for my fashion... in fact, I would wear adidas sweats and shoes every day if I could get away with that.

    That's all for now. I can't wait for the season to get started, and I look forward to meeting many of you. Enjoy the fall!

    Jill Bodensteiner

    September 29, 2009

    -- posted by junior forward Becca Bruszewski

    Hey Irish Fans,

    This is your favorite Irish player, Becca Bruszewski, aka Bruiser. I can't believe that basketball season is right around the corner. This has been a great fall so far. We are definitely working hard, but we are also slipping in a little fun too.

    Congratulations to the Irish on a great wins against Michigan State and Purdue. Both games were so much fun! We had a huge weekend with recruits in town for the Michigan State weekend. There were a ton of them here and it was so fun interacting with everyone. Friday night we went to the pep rally on the Irish Green. It was definitely a different environment with the pep rally outside, but it was still so much fun. Normally, we have the pep rallies at the Joyce Center, but since it is under renovation, the pep rallies are in a different spot every week. I love hanging out with my teammates, dancing to the Notre Dame band and screaming the cheers at the pep rallies. I want to give a shoutout to Brittany, one of the craziest of my teammates, and usually the one that I can act goofy with. If you have never been to a Notre Dame pep rally, you should go. There is nothing like it.

    Then, we woke up bright and early Saturday morning for a full day of activities. We started with a tour of campus. Thank goodness we had a student tour guide to help us out with the tour. They know so much about Notre Dame. Do you know the story of the Gipper? I learned that for the first time on our tour. "Win one for the Gipper" Knute Rockne said to his football players to inspire them after one of his football players, George Gipp, fell ill and died. Did you know that Ronald Reagan played the part of the Gipper in "Knute Rockne: All American"?

    There is also the story of "Shrek" and "Harry Potter". Two of the screenwriters for "Shrek" lived in Carroll Hall. Carroll Hall is on the other side of the lake. Since the Notre Dame campus is separated into quads, South Quad, North Quad, etc., the Carroll Hall guys renamed their dorm as Far Quad, since it is so far away from everything. King Farquaad! And, on Shrek's back is the outline of the golden Dome. The city of Dulac came from Notre Dame du Lac - Our Lady of the Lake. The castle is also modeled after the Hesburgh library. Isn't that cool?

    The dining hall in "Harry Potter" is modeled after our South Dining Hall too. Now you have to go back and watch those movies to see all the references.

    After our tours, we played some basketball in the PIT (our practice facility). I can't wait until the Joyce Center renovations are done in mid-October. It will be amazing to play on the new court and new seats in the arena. I peaked in the arena and it is looking so awesome!

    Fraderica Miller (left), Becca Bruszewski (center) and Skylar Diggins (right) stop for a photo during the team's tailgate lunch prior to the Michigan State football game on Sept. 19.


    After basketball we tailgated for a little bit. We had some yummy barbeque and then headed into the game. The highlight of the game...well besides the Irish winning ... shaking hands with Vince Vaughn, who was on the sideline. Our seats are right by the team tunnel, so we get to see all the celebrities at the games - Vince Vaughn, Joe Montana, Bon Jovi, Mike Golic and the list goes on.

    We ended the weekend with dinner at Coach McGraw's house and some team bonding. The best thing about this year's team is how close we are. My abs hurt every time we are together because we laugh so much with and at each other. I can't wait for what this season has in store for us.

    This past weekend I had the chance to go home for a little breather before basketball becomes very busy. I love being so close to home. My family comes out to every game and I can go home whenever I want for a home-cooked meal. Sometimes I bring my teammates home too. I watched the Notre Dame-Purdue game with my cousins. What an exciting game! GO IRISH!

    Well, that's it for me.

    Until next time ...

    Bruiser

    September 11, 2009

    -- posted by assistant coach Niele Ivey

    Hello Notre Dame family,

    This is Coach Ivey! It's about that time to get ready for the beginning of our basketball season. I am so ready for the season and ready to see you guys cheering for the Irish in the stands. As you have probably noticed, I love fashion! I am fortunate to have my best friend and former Irish teammate, Julie Henderson, as my fashion consultant. She is modeling in New York now and has always helped me with my wardrobe for the start of every season. This year I am writing a blog about fashion. I plan on giving helpful hints for the women of the crowd about what's "in style" and hints on good bargains and places to shop. Throughout the season, we will have promotional games and games where you, the fans, will be able to help me pick out outfits to wear! I want to hear your feedback!! It's going to be a lot of fun and I hope that you can be a part of our "Fighting For Fashion" campaign.

    I am a huge fan of People Style Watch magazine. They always do an amazing job of giving you the hottest trends for your body and budget. One of the ten fall trends of 2009 is the color RED!! This fiery shade is surprisingly versatile and great on accessories, dresses, shoes, bags, and tops. It can go casual or chic! I personally love the color red because it really makes my outfit pop when I wear either a red dress, red heels, or a red accessory. Actually, Coach McGraw has a pair of red heels that are the business!! (that means really cool)!! She is just as fashionable as I am and she is always dressed impeccably! I love her style!! So that is my first of many insights into what is hot for the fall. You don't have to break your bank in finding items that are in this category, find something that is affordable and comfortable for you and your budget. I hope this helps and I look forward to helping out more in the near future!!

    Go Irish!!

    September 8, 2009

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio

    You can feel the spirit at Notre Dame! It is that time of year -- the leaves are beginning to change, the footballs are flying high in the air, fans are traveling from miles and miles away to experience the magic of Notre Dame, students are back in class, the band is practicing every day, the basketball coaches are hashing out plays and the student-athletes are pushing themselves to become better. Can you feel it?

    Congratulations to the Fighting Irish football team on an excellent performance on Saturday against the Nevada Wolf Pack (35-0). Great things are in store for the football team this season and I can't wait for rest of the games. Notre Dame is back!

    Now back to basketball ... the women's basketball team is working hard in the weight room, on the track and on the court to hone their skills for what is going to be a great season. Every player you talk to knows that this is the year for BIG THINGS and I know the fans are ready for the same. Any time I go to the grocery store or the mall, fans stop me and express how excited they are for the season to begin and how they purchased their season tickets. That says a lot about what we have brewing here at Notre Dame.

    While I have the chance, here is a little update on ticket sales.

    Season Tickets
    At the moment, we have sold out our season ticket allotment; however, the Notre Dame Ticket Office is finishing up the season ticket renewal process, and it looks as though we will be able to free up a few more tickets. Those additional season tickets will go on sale Tuesday, September 15th at 8:30 a.m. (ET) and are available through the second-floor ticket windows at the Joyce Center (enter at Gate 1), by calling the ticket office at (574) 631-7356, or by pointing your web browser over to the ticket page here at UND.com (www.UND.com/tickets).

    Single Game Tickets
    If single game tickets are available, they will go on sale Tuesday, October 20th at 8:30 a.m. (ET), also via the Gate 1 second-floor ticket windows at the Joyce Center, on the phone at (574) 631-7356, or by going to the ticket page here at UND.com (www.UND.com/tickets).

    "Week of" Single Game Tickets
    There will most likely be single game tickets that become available the week of each game, due to opposing teams releasing their tickets. You can always visit www.UND.com/tickets or call the Notre Dame Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356 to check ticket availability for a specific game.

    NCAA All-Session Packages
    Current season ticket holders may purchase their 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship all-session packages for a discounted rate of $27 for adults and $17 for youth (college age and under). The all-session packages include all three games of the first and second rounds, which will take place March 21 and 23 at the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Beginning October 1st, ticket packages will increase to $32 for adults and $22 for youth, so get your tickets today by calling the Notre Dame Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visiting the ticket office windows in person or going on-line to www.UND.com/tickets.

    The women's basketball team will be doing some community service in the next couple of weeks as an extension of our "Spirit of Giving" outreach program that we started this summer. This week, the Irish will be visiting St. John the Baptist and Corpus Christi schools for pep rallies. These are two of our most dedicated schools with great showings at our games each year. Both won the attendance contest at You Can Lend a Hand Night last February. Then, on September 20th, a few players will be participating in the Walk for Diabetes at Potawatomi Park in South Bend. It is so important for us to give back to the community that supports us, and we will blog about these great events in the coming weeks.

    Well, that's it for me. I will keep you posted as the season gets a little closer. As always ... GO IRISH!

    August 26, 2009

    -- posted by senior center Erica Williamson

    Hey Irish Fans!

    Wow! Can you believe that ANOTHER summer has already sped by? I can't believe I just finished my first day of class ... of my SENIOR YEAR! It seems like it was just yesterday we were all moving into the dorms our freshman summer. I tell ya ... the time really does fly!

    As many of you may know, this summer has been especially busy for me. I had the great fortune of landing an internship with Pete Byrne at WSBT (the local CBS TV station here in South Bend) working in the sports department. So on top of workouts and another class this summer, I spent 16-20 hours a week working with Pete on writing scripts, editing footage, filming sporting events, and editing online stories. Although it was a lot of work at times, I had an absolute blast. Without the internship, I would be nowhere near where I am today in terms of comfort with and in front of a TV, how the news station works, what all goes into a broadcast, etc... I know that I will do a better job and be a better applicant in the future because of everything I learned this summer. I can't thank Pete, Chad (Damp), Carolyn (Manno), and all the wonderful people at WSBT for all of their help, advice, and friendly faces this summer. They made it much easier to get the job done and provided a great learning environment.

    Everyone always wants to know about workouts. How's basketball going? How are the freshman doing? How's the team look? Well, let me tell you know. The answer to all the questions is AMAZING! The team worked their butts off this summer in both the weight room and on the court. Everyone gave 100% effort, and a lot of strides were made in terms of weight being put up and speed on the court. On top of all the numbers though, the best thing that happened this year was how well our chemistry formed. As all Irish fans know, we have EVERYONE from last year's team returning; no one graduated! So although the 12 girls returning from last year have all gotten along really well, especially after our (wonderful, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime, absolutely breathtaking, incredible) trip to Europe, it was important that the two freshmen acclimated to our program and the team really well. And let me tell you, they did a superb job. When they came in, it seemed like Kaila and Skylar didn't skip a beat. Sometimes when new people join a tight knit group of people, sometimes it's hard to break in, or to feel welcomed, or to just get along with everyone. Well that hasn't happened in the slightest. It seems like Kaila and Skylar have been a part of our team for years! Our chemistry on the court mirrors our great chemistry off the court. If you see one of us out in South Bend or Mishawaka, you'll most likely see another one around the corner. I can assure you now that it will mean great things to come for this year's squad.

    Another reason my summer was so busy was my brother Adam's wedding this past weekend. It was a beautiful ceremony held at Windmill Island in Holland, Michigan. After months of preparation and planning and plenty of work done by both families, my "little" brother Adam wed his college sweetheart, Hannah in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Although it had been raining on and off for two days, the clouds cleared up and the sun shone through just in time for the ceremony. I was a bridesmaid in the wedding and my other brother Reid was the Best Man, which was a great experience for both of us. I've loved getting to know Hannah's good friends from school who were also bridesmaids and had a blast spending time with both of their families during the wedding reception. I can tell you though...the Williamson's really do know how to break in the dance floor! I didn't know my mom and dad knew how to dance so well!! Everyone was breaking it down on the dance floor. My feet were screaming for the hotel bed after 3 hours of dancing! It was great to get to know Hannah's family and to spend some more time with my brother and his bride before they head back to California. :( I'm so proud of both of them and am so happy and fortunate to now say that I have a sister! I've wanted one all my life, and now I have one!

    It has been one crazy summer. I can't believe it's already come to an end and that everything is about to start going 150% again. I still find it weird knowing that I'm a senior. People will ask what year in school I am when they meet me and the reminder that I'm actually a senior still surprises me to this day! There will be a lot of last-time-this-will-happen moments for our senior class this year, so I know that Barlow, Alena, Lech, Lindsay and I definitely want to make the year a memorable one. It's so encouraging to hear that our ticket sales have been so incredible. Thank you to YOU, all of our amazing fans for buying season tickets. If you haven't bought yours yet, make sure you do so ASAP!! I hear we're down to less than 100!!!! I'm looking forward to the start of the season. I can't believe we only have six weeks left before it all goes full-swing again! (yay ... last pre-season haha!)

    Till next time!

    August 17, 2009

    -- posted by senior guard Alena Christiansen

    Christmas in July!

    Christmas came early this year. It was an ordinary day; I showed up in Steph's office and was about to start working on summer camp packets before the next camp started. Then Coach McGraw walked in and asked to see me in her office. Eek! I was so nervous and I felt like I was walking the Green Mile. As soon as I sat down in Coach's office, she gave me my Christmas present six months early. She told me she wanted me on the team this year. I can't even begin to describe what I felt. That was the single greatest gift I could have ever wished for (other than world peace of course!).

    Last year was a dream come true. After three years of hope, my dream finally came true - I walked-on the Notre Dame women's basketball team. Scoring my first collegiate point wearing my Notre Dame jersey was a dream come true. And being with my teammates and having them accept me taught me a lot about teamwork and camaraderie. I don't know what this season holds for me, but just being part of something larger - the whole Notre Dame athletic experience - is enough to make my year unforgettable.

    This summer has been great, but I'm ready to begin basketball season. I'm ready to make unforgettable lifetime memories on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball team. So this year I'm telling my friends not to bother getting me any gifts for Christmas because I already got the best gift of all.

    Merry Christmas!!

    July 20, 2009

    -- posted by coordinator of basketball operations & marketing Stephanie Menio

    Wow ... has this summer flown by! After a camp-filled June and a recruiting-filled July, the women's basketball office has been hoppin', looking for young talent, preparing for fall practices, planning ticket sales events, doing interviews and participating in community outreach events. My favorite question is "do you take the summer off?" I have to just smile because most people don't realize that the summer time is when we get much of our work done for the upcoming season. This summer, we have been working on the reallocation of current season ticket holder seats for the newly-renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center and getting the word out on new season ticket sales.

    This is such a big year for Notre Dame women's basketball. Although my desk regularly vibrates due to the construction, I am so excited that the team will be playing in a newly-renovated arena in the fall. We are so fortunate to have a very strong fan base of more than 5,300 season ticket holders. The main issue we run into with the current arena is the bleacher sections. Many people do not want to sit in the bleachers. How could you blame them? No one wants "bleacher butt." The good news is that there will be no more bleachers. Every seat in the arena will be a chairback seat ... yay! With the size of the arena going from 11,400 to 9,300, there will not be a bad seat in the place.

    Since I have this opportunity, here is an update on season tickets:

    Current season ticket holder renewals will be sent out between August 5th and 7th, so they should reach everyone's mailboxes by the week of August 10th. The renewal will have their newly-allocated seat location. The Ticket Office did the best they could to give current season ticket holders a comparable location, but the new seating configuration did not allow this for everyone. The deadline for current season ticket holders to renew their tickets is Monday, August 31st.

    With the renewals, current season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase 2010 NCAA Tournament tickets at a discounted rate of $27 for adults and $17 for youth. This includes all three games of the first and second rounds -- that's two first-round games on Sunday, March 21st and a second-round game on Tuesday, March 23rd. There is nothing like March Madness, especially when you don't have to leave town to see the Irish play!

    On Friday, August 14th, new season tickets will go on sale. Due to the decrease in seats, we only have 3,000 seats available to sell. Seat locations will not be available until September after all season ticket renewals are finalized. Our phones have been ringing off the hook with fans excited to purchase season tickets, so it is highly recommended that new season ticket holders purchase on Friday, August 14th to ensure they get a seat. Tickets will go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. (ET) on August 14th via the following channels:

  • Calling the Ticket Office weekdays during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) at 574-631-7356
  • Going on-line to the official Ticket Office web page at und.com/tickets and purchasing with a major credit card
  • Stopping by in person at the Ticket Office, which is located inside Gate 1 on the second floor of the Joyce Center, directly above the Women's Basketball Office
  • Stopping by in person at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center, located on Linden Avenue in South Bend (August 14th Only)
  • What is really exciting is that, Notre Dame could become the first collegiate women's basketball program to sell out every game during the regular season! The new Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center will be rockin' for sure. If you don't have season tickets, I would definitely recommend purchasing them for the upcoming season and here are five great reasons you should purchase Notre Dame women's basketball season tickets this year:

    5. Great Opponents are coming to town.
    Connecticut (2009 national champion), Vanderbilt (2009 NCAA Sweet Sixteen), Pittsburgh (2009 NCAA Sweet Sixteen) and Charlotte (Atlantic 10 Conference champion) will take on the Irish at home this season. The first and second rounds of the 2010 NCAA Tournament are coming to South Bend, too, and Notre Dame season ticket holders have the first opportunity to purchase NCAA ticket packages at a reduced rate.

    4. Games are Affordable, Family-Friendly Entertainment.
    Voted the area's #1 Family Entertainment by the South Bend Tribune's Readers' Choice Awards, Notre Dame women's basketball season tickets are extremely affordable at LESS THAN $4.00 PER GAME.

    3. The Joyce Center is undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift, making it one of the best facilities in the country to watch college basketball.
    All the seats in the Joyce Center are now chairbacks and there is not a bad seat in the house.

    2. The Irish are projected to be Top 10 in the nation going into the 2009-10 season.
    With the entire 2008-09 team coming back, this will be a very exciting season.

    1. There may not be any single game tickets available during the season!
    Due to the high demand for season tickets this year, we anticipate limited, if any, tickets to be sold on a game-by-game basis. You have the chance to make history by being a part of the first collegiate women's basketball program to potentially sell out every game during the regular season. What an exciting time to be Irish!

    On a side note ... I just got a new puppy named Shamrock, but I call her "Roxy" for short. She is a Yorkshire Terrier and is the cutest dog in the world (not that I am biased or anything). She has a Notre Dame nametag and I may even dress her up as the leprechaun for Halloween. Her original name given by the breeder was "Becca," so she was meant to be my little puppy since she was named after one of our players, Becca Bruszewski. But Becca told me that I had to change her name to Becky or Bebe because she didn't want a dog to be named after her.

    We will keep you posted with more Notre Dame women's basketball news! As always ... GO IRISH!

    July 17, 2009 (Update 2)

    -- posted by assistant sports information director Chris Masters

    Happy Friday, Irish fans! Been a busy couple of days around the Notre Dame women's basketball program, as the coaches have come back off the recruiting trail for a quick breather (necessitated by an NCAA-mandated break in the July recruiting calendar). With that timeout, the team all got together on Friday afternoon and threw a surprise baby shower for assistant coach Angie Barber, who is only weeks away from delivering her first child (which we already know will be a girl!). We were able to get some photos from Friday's shower, and you can take a look at the festivities in the photo gallery linked here: Angie Barber Baby Shower Photo Gallery.

    Earlier this morning, the cameras from Fighting Irish All-Access (the multimedia arm of UND.com) were on hand as the Notre Dame players went through a tough hour-long workout under the steely eye of strength coach Craig Cheek. We also were able to visit yesterday afternoon and evening with senior center Erica Williamson and tag along as she continued her internship in the sports department at WSBT-TV Channel 22 (the CBS affiliate in South Bend). Fighting Irish All-Access is in the process of putting together all of that footage from the past two days and will bring you an extensive video update on Notre Dame's summer progress, both on and off the court, late next week, so keep an eye peeled for that.

    Yesterday morning, five Irish players -- sophomores Fraderica Miller and Kellie Watson, and seniors Ashley Barlow, Lindsay Schrader and Erica Williamson -- stopped by the pediatric cancer ward at South Bend's Memorial Hospital as part of the Notre Dame women's basketball team's "Spirit of Giving" program, and were able to spend time with three young ladies who are fighting a courageous battle against cancer. They are the true Fighting Irish and our players were happy to be able to bring some smiles to the faces of these girls and their families. Fraderica Miller has more on the team's visit to Memorial Hospital (along with a photo of the players meeting with one of the young patients) in her own BasketBlog entry that immediately follows this one.

    Speaking of cancer, it's with a heavy heart that we remember Rich O'Leary, the former Irish men's lacrosse coach and longtime director of intramurals and club sports at Notre Dame, who passed away this morning from a cancer-related illness at the age of 62. I had the pleasure of getting to know Rich during the past eight years, as he was part of the loyal and dedicated crew who worked at the scorer's table for our Irish women's basketball games. He was a warm and generous man, a friend to all who knew him, and his contributions to Our Lady's University, and Fighting Irish athletics, will never be forgotten. A complete obituary for Rich can be found here at UND.com: Rich O'Leary Obituary.

    On a brighter note, as you read this, Irish incoming freshman guard Skylar Diggins is winging her way across the Pacific with her USA Under-19 World Championship teammates to Bangkok, Thailand, for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships, which are set to get underway next Thursday. The Americans will tangle with Spain in their tournament opener at 5:30 a.m. ET (4:30 p.m. local time in Bangkok), and we'll have recaps from each one of Team USA's games at the U19 World Championships right here at UND.com -- the complete tournament schedule can be found by visiting the USA Basketball web site. Skylar is out to follow in the footsteps of current Irish senior guard Melissa Lechlitner, who helped lead the 2007 U.S. U19 squad to the gold medal at the World Championships in Slovakia, posting a perfect 6-0 record in the event.

    It's been a hectic week for Skylar, who was in Los Angeles on Wednesday to receive the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award in a ceremony prior to the ESPY Awards. The future Irish cager also attended the ESPY Awards show and was recognized during the event, which was taped for television and will be broadcast Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Somewhere between her travels to Los Angeles, Colorado Springs (to train with Team USA) and Thailand, Skylar found time to talk with Ken Sothman, a reporter from Fox 59 in Indianapolis and a freelance writer at Indy Sports Nation. His story can be read at the following link: A Red, White And Blue Sky All Over The World.

    In the WNBA ranks, 2001 Notre Dame alum and current San Antonio Silver Stars center Ruth Riley narrowly missed being voted as a starter to the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game, finishing second in the balloting among Western Conference centers with 75,412 votes, trailing only Los Angeles' Lisa Leslie (80,748), who has missed significant time lately with a severe knee sprain. It's possible Ruth could be selected as an all-star reserve by the league's other 12 head coaches (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players) when the complete all-star rosters are announced on Tuesday. The 2009 WNBA All-Star Game will be played July 25 (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) in Uncasville, Conn., at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. In the meantime, Ruth and the Silver Stars have a pair of games this weekend, playing host to Connecticut on Friday (8 p.m. ET) before heading up to Chicago on Sunday to tangle with the Sky (6 p.m. ET on NBA TV and CN 100 in Chicago).

    Don't forget to help us stay up to date with our Fighting Irish women's basketball alumnae. If you're a former player (or know the whereabouts of a former player), drop me a line at masters.5@nd.edu and let us know what you've been up to. We hope to bring those updates to everyone here on the BasketBlog in the future and even feature them as part of next year's Notre Dame women's basketball media guide.

    Couple of quick shameless personal plugs before we sign off -- a tip of the hat to John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant, who name-dropped yours truly in his own blog on Friday as part of a mailbag segment that included a question about the origins of the first name of Irish head coach Muffet McGraw (you'll have to check out his blog for the answer!). Also, our Notre Dame women's basketball media Twitter page is about to reach a milestone, as we await our 100th follower ... who will it be? Well, if you haven't signed up to follow us already, just click on the link at the top of this BasketBlog page and maybe you could be that lucky follower that puts us into triple digits. No purchase necessary, but then again, there aren't any prizes for signing up -- at least not at this point. We'll work on that.

    For now, have a great weekend wherever you may be and, as always, GO IRISH!!

    July 17, 2009

    -- posted by sophomore guard Fraderica Miller

    Yesterday, we went down to Memorial Hospital here in South Bend to visit a few of the kids in the pediatric center. I've done a lot of community service at day care centers back at home in Atlanta and I really love working with children. This was my first time doing community service at a hospital and to be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to handle it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after being there I was very glad I decided to go.


    We met three young girls who were all battling cancer. We handed out adidas gift bags and just talked with the girls and tried to get to know them a little bit. All three of the girls were obviously going through one of the worst things ever imagined, but somehow they were all able to smile and talk with us as if nothing was wrong. I can only imagine what it is like to be in there positions and I just think that these girls, along with the other children battling cancer, have such a tremendous amount of courage and faith. I really do admire them and the fact that they continue to fight and believe that they can beat the cancer.

    One of the girls we met had just found out that the cancer is back for the third time. When her mom told us that, my heart sank. I can't even begin to think how that feels, but the fact that she and her mother seemed to have so much hope that they would once again beat the cancer made me realize how amazing the power of faith is. Another one of the girls was being prepped for a spinal tap. As soon as I saw her, I had to fight back tears. To see this little girl sitting in her mother's lap, getting ready to go through such a painful procedure, was so sad. When we walked in, she seemed really down, but when we handed her one of the adidas bags, her face lit up and she actually smiled when she grabbed the bag. Knowing that we may have brightened this little girl's day was amazing.

    I commend the parents, family, friends, and especially the cancer patients themselves for being able to fight the way the do. I know it isn't always easy, but I find it remarkable how someone battling a disease like cancer can find it in themselves to smile and carry a positive attitude the way these girls did today. Although it was a little emotional to see these girls, all so young, having to spend their day in a hospital bed, I was really glad that we were able to make them smile. I may have been a little apprehensive at first, but after this experience I know that I will definitely be visiting the pediatric center again very soon.

    July 13, 2009 (Update 2)

    -- posted by assistant sports information director Chris Masters

    Hope you've been enjoying our newly-redesigned UND.com and the tipoff of this latest incarnation of the BasketBlog. Just some quick housekeeping items from the weekend gone by and the week to come:

  • The Irish will continue their "Spirit of Giving" summer outreach program this week with visits to the Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday and South Bend's Memorial Hospital on Thursday. A photo gallery from last week's visit to the Martin Luther King Recreation Center for Camp Soldiers is now posted on UND.com -- just click on the photo at the bottom of the women's basketball page.

  • If you haven't already noticed, the updated 2009-10 roster and team quick facts (in PDF form) have been posted on the women's basketball page at UND.com. The team and staff bios will be updated later this summer, but at least this is a good starting point -- and for those of you who were wondering, Skylar will continue to wear her familiar No. 4 (no surprise there, since we haven't had someone wear that digit since Le'Tania Severe graduated in 2004) and Kaila has taken jersey No. 15 (making her the first to wear that number since the 1992-93 season, when Dionne Smith did so).

  • The spies caught Curt Rallo of the South Bend Tribune stopping by Monday's pick-up game at the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center on campus to check out the action and talk to both junior guard Brittany Mallory and senior guard Melissa Lechlitner. Keep an eye peeled later this week for Curt's update on Brittany's road to recovery following ACL surgery in January.

  • The French Under-18 National Team won a silver medal at the European Championships that wrapped up over the weekend in Sweden. France and Spain both went 8-0 to set up a showdown in the gold medal game, with the Spanish side coming away with a 64-54 win. Why does this matter to Notre Dame fans? Well, the Irish face that almost that exact same French U18 squad (minus a couple of key players) in the opening game of Notre Dame's 10-day, three-game European tour back in May -- and the Irish routed Les Bleues, 77-44, on their home floor just outside of Paris.

  • 2001 alum and nine-year WNBA veteran center Ruth Riley scored the 2,000th point of her WNBA career on Sunday night, knocking down a pair of free throws in the final seconds to cap a 10-point night in San Antonio's 83-76 loss at home to Minnesota. Ruth now has 2,001 points -- oh yeah, isn't that the same number as the year Notre Dame won its first national championship with Ruth guarding the paint?

  • Speaking of the WNBA, selections for the league's annual All-Star Game will be announced Tuesday night after fan balloting closed last week. According to the first set of returns released by the WNBA office, Ruth (a 2005 All-Star) was third in the Western Conference voting among centers behind Lisa Leslie of Los Angeles (who has missed the past few weeks with a knee injury) and Tangela Smith of Phoenix. This year's WNBA All-Star Game is set for July 25 in Uncasville, Conn., at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the Connecticut Sun.

  • In an effort to enhance our coverage of Notre Dame women's basketball, we're making a concerted effort to track down as many of our former players as possible. If you're a former Fighting Irish women's basketball player, or you know of someone who was, please e-mail me at masters.5@nd.edu and let us know what you're up to. We'll feature some of these "Where Are They Now?" segments in future BasketBlogs, and we hope to be able to add a place for them in our next women's basketball media guide.

  • Another quick alum shout-out ... a happy birthday to 2006 graduate and All-America point guard Megan Duffy -- has it really been more than three years since she last suited up for the Irish?
  • All for now ... but keep it tuned here for more news and GO IRISH!!

    July 13, 2009

    -- posted by sophomore guard Kellie Watson

    Hey Irish fans!! I hope you all have been having an amazing summer so far! We have been very busy with classes, workouts, and pick-up. Every morning we have workouts that involve running, lifting, and agilities. All of us are working really hard to ensure that we have a very successful season! We play pick-up four times a week and we are looking very good! Everyone is gelling together very well and we will be ready to play once practice starts.

    To go along with our workouts together as a team, we all have a notebook with our individual workouts. Everyday we have about an hour long routine of shooting, dribbling, and driving drills we must complete. This is when you show your discipline and drive for getting better in the off-season. My personal workouts consist of lots of shooting drills. I want to be as consistent as possible during the season so I am working very hard on my shot now. Every once in a while I will also come in later at night to get a few shots up. I like to shoot to clear my mind and settle down so I go to the gym if I can't sleep.

    These last three and a half weeks will be very difficult for the 12 of us, but we are working great together and will get through it!

    The summer time is a great time to not only strengthen our game, but get out into the community as well. Last week, we went to the Martin Luther King Center in South Bend to help out with Camp Soldiers, which is a co-ed camp for grades 2-8. It brought me back to the good ol' days of playing in really hot gyms. The kids were great! Every one of them worked extremely hard and really wanted to improve their game. It is always nice to be around kids and help them develop their skills.

    It has been great blogging for you again, and as always, GO IRISH!!!

    July 10, 2009

    -- posted by assistant sports information director Chris Masters

    Hello Irish fans and welcome to the BasketBlog, version 2.0! With the debut of our newly-redesigned athletics web site (www.UND.com) on Wednesday, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring back the BasketBlog, this time in a much sleeker and streamlined format, similar to what we did during our European tour back in May. Between this blog, our special Notre Dame women's basketball Twitter page (@ndwbbsid) and our free Irish ALERT text messaging system, there's absolutely no way you won't be able to keep up with what's going on the world of Fighting Irish women's basketball.

    Speaking of which, it's already been a busy summer for the players, coaches and staff. I'm sure most of you have checked our European tour web page, but if you haven't, take a few minutes to get caught up on what was truly a memorable experience. Once we got back, most of the team scattered to the four winds for some time with their families before returning to help out with our extremely popular summer camps, which were once again a huge success even though we didn't have the benefit of using the main Joyce Center floor, due to the on-going construction. In fact, the night we got back to town from Europe, we rolled up to Gate 6 at the arena to the sight of several large dumpsters filled with some of the "historic" seats of the old arena that had been cleared out to make room for the new setup. For most of the summer, we're kept out of the arena (unless we're sporting a hard hat), but judging by the noise and the amount of heavy equipment rolling through campus, you can be sure the place is going look great when we tip off next season!

    It's also because of the construction that the players relocated out of their regular locker room to a temporary one as part of the main women's Olympic sports locker room adjacent to the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The Irish men's basketball and volleyball team also had to make similar relocations ... all the price of progress, right?

    Anyway, back to the summer recap. Almost all of our players are following a normal student-athlete regimen of attending summer school in an effort to keep them ahead of the game when the jam-packed basketball season (with games, practices, meetings and studying, not to mention a social life) all converge at once. Natalie Novosel was the first to get the jump on summer school -- she enrolled in the shorter early session and actually missed the first day of classes which came as we were coming back from Europe -- and she's now been joined by the rest of the team for the regular summer session, except Alena Christiansen, who is back home in Fort Lauderdale working at her summer job as well as several clinics in the area near her alma mater, Cardinal Gibbons High School (we miss you Alena ... see you soon!). One of our freshmen, Kaila Turner, also is getting her feet wet with life on a college campus, while our other rookie, Skylar Diggins, has joined the team for their workouts and pickup games, but her involvement with the USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team was going to cause her to miss a great deal of summer classes, so she'll officially enroll at school when the fall semester gets going next month.

    Ah yes, those morning workouts ... nothing like a 6 a.m. wakeup call to get the blood flowing and really test who's got that championship mentality and how much they really want to reach up and grab the proverbial brass ring. Under the watchful eye of our strength coach, Craig Cheek, the players have gone through a strict regimen of weights and cardio workouts, mixed with individual basketball drills prescribed by their respective position coaches. The team also has been getting together nearly every afternoon at the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center on campus for an hour to an hour and a half, playing pickup games (both against each other and a mix of male players who happen to stop by) and working every day to improve and strengthen the bonds and the chemistry that make this team so very dangerous to play against. On the court -- well, let's just say that Tom Bacsik (our personnel manager) and I have exchanged more than a few grins and knowing glances based on some of the effort we've seen from the players so far this summer.

    Meanwhile, the coaches are on the road right now, fanning out to all corners of the country in part one of the July recruiting season. Some of you may remember from our previous BasketBlogs (click the "Older Posts" link above for a refresher) how our associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis, recalled the long days and nights in gyms, airports, hotels and restaurants evaluating the next crop of potential Fighting Irish women's basketball players. Coach McGraw, Coach Barber and Coach Ivey also have been out on the road -- Angie's been a real trooper in that she's about eight months pregnant! But recruiting is the lifeblood of any college basketball program and you can bet our staff will leave no stone unturned when it comes to evaluating talent.

    That's a quick snapshot at what we've been up to lately. There will be more on the horizon in the coming weeks and months, as we work with our friends at Fighting Irish All-Access (the video side of UND.com) to bring you some features on the Notre Dame players' summer workout program, our new "Spirit of Giving" summer outreach program (which started with an appearance this past Wednesday at Skylar Diggins' Camp Soldiers for grades 2-8 at the Martin Luther King Rec Center in South Bend), and Erica Williamson's summer internship at WSBT-TV in South Bend. And, if the weather holds up, the players are penciled in for their annual on-campus media guide photo shoots on the 15th, an event that often has its own set of logistical nightmares for yours truly, not to mention some mad scrambles by the ladies to get their hair, makeup and dresses just right.

    What's more, we're going to have regular BasketBlog contributions from the players and coaches. So make sure to bookmark this page and check back often 'cause we're just getting warmed up ... GO IRISH!

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