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NDSportsBlogger Retrospective: Part 1

Jun 4, 2013, 9:48 AM EST

The following is the first of three blog entries looking back on my internship with Fighting Irish Digital Media. With a new intern set to start next week, I will be posting these blogs, along with several photos from my experience, over the next several days. I have a tendency to be long-winded sometimes, but I hope you will enjoy reading. And hey, like I said, it’s going to be split into a few parts.

About a week before I was set to begin my position with the Notre Dame Monogram Club, Christianne and Oak (the rest of my social media team in FIDM), asked me to write a retrospective blog about my internship, or perhaps more accurately, my time as the “ND Sports Blogger.”

That was late March. It’s now Memorial Day weekend, and for several reasons, I’m just sitting down to write.

First, I jumped into the new position on April 1, and it hasn’t slowed down much since then. From the letter jacket ceremony to Blue-Gold weekend to an event for senior student-athletes last weekend, there has not been a whole lot of free time since joining the Monogram Club.

Secondly, I knew I had some time. The person next in line to begin as the ND Sports Blogger was not set to begin until mid-June… Don’t worry, you’ll meet the new intern soon.

And finally, from Aug. 15, 2011 to Mar. 31, 2013, I can confidently say I had one of the best jobs in all of sports. Even as someone with a passion for writing, reflecting on my time with Fighting Irish Digital Media seemed like an impossible task.

In fact, I still feel that way. But with a long weekend and June quickly approaching, I decided I could put it off no more.

When I began with FIDM, just a couple of weeks before the start of the 2011 football season, I spent all of my time working with the football program. I was a social media intern, stationed at the Gug, tasked with managing the team’s modest Facebook profile, helping Dave Peloquin and Chad Klunder with various projects related to recruiting and summer camps, and blogging, occasionally.

It was during that time, that Jake Golic first posted Trick Shot Monday on his YouTube account. Who knew that would be the start of something big?

During the 2011 season, I also worked on a video series with Brandon Newman, and Jake’s brother, Mike. “Our Team, Our Story” gave viewers an inside look at the Irish football program, from the perspective of the players. The guys brought flipcams with them to various events throughout the fall, from the first day of classes to a team bowling trip before leaving for Orlando.

Mike and Brandon captured a whole bunch of great moments on video, but by far, one of my favorite was from the trip to Give Kids The World, in Kissimmee, Fla. A couple of days before the Champs Sports Bowl, the Irish and Florida State Seminoles came together to spend some time with sick children and their families. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as Manti Te’o, Harrison Smith, Darius Fleming and the rest of the Irish spent a couple of hours dancing, and brightening up the lives of these children. Also, it’s impossible for me to hear Cupid Shuffle or Teach Me How to Dougie without thinking of the dance-off that took place that morning.

After the bowl trip, I began working more closely with the basketball program. For one of the first games of the spring semester, #1 Syracuse came to town, and well, we all remember what happened that night.

If you’ve seen Matt Cashore’s outstanding photo of the student section rushing the floor, you might have noticed Stephon Tuitt leading the charge. It’s not uncommon to see many of the Irish football players, courtside at basketball games, against the glass at hockey games, or on the berm at Arlotta Stadium supporting the lacrosse programs. Seeing that friendship between teams and love for the university is something that has always stood out to me about the student-athletes at Notre Dame.

The basketball season included my first trip to Madison Square Garden for the BIG EAST tournament. There’s a reason they call it the World’s Most Famous Arena. There’s a distinct energy and sense of history in that building that I have yet to experience anywhere else (I wrote more about that here).

After the season ended in heartbreak for Mike Brey’s squad, they Irish hoops squad was frequently spotted at Frank Eck Stadium, in support of Pat Connaughton, who, in addition to draining threes from the corner, is also a pretty darn good pitcher.

Speaking of baseball, one of more memorable moments of the year came at the ballpark on the night of Mar. 23, 2012. The first game of Notre Dame’s weekend series coincided with the big Sweet 16 matchup between Indiana and Kentucky. After a two-hour rain delay, the Irish and Panthers finally took the field. As the game headed to the bottom of the ninth, radio announcer Chuck Freeby came into the press box and said, “There won’t be a postgame show, even when [Ryan] Bull hits a walk-off here.” (The game had already kept the Hoosiers and Wildcats off the radio waves for much of the first half).

Sure enough, Bull sent the second pitch of the inning over the right field wall.

In April, FIDM embarked on the start of a journey to celebrate 125 years of Notre Dame Football. Coinciding with the Blue-Gold game, we launched three stories on 125.nd.edu (more on that later).

During that month, the Irish football team took part in the annual Bald And The Beautiful event at LaFortune, raising money to help the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in efforts to find a cure for childhood cancer. I also shaved my head, for the first time since my freshman year of high school, when my cross-country teammates hazed… I mean, suggested … I buzz it for our final race of the season.

In May, I had the opportunity to accompany the men’s lacrosse team on its NCAA tournament journey. Once again, the quarterfinals took place on the same weekend as Notre Dame’s commencement exercises. To make sure that his senior student-athletes receive a proper send-off, Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan started a unique tradition several years ago. When they are still playing in the NCAA tournament, the Irish hold their own graduation. In 2012, family and friends gathered at Malvern Prep, outside of Philadelphia, to celebrate the accomplishments of twelve student-athletes. While it wasn’t the same as being in Notre Dame Stadium, there was something very special about the team’s ceremony.

A year ago this weekend, the Irish met Loyola (Md.) in the semifinals at Gillette Stadium, where they fell, 7-5, to the eventual champions….and with that, my first academic year with FIDM was in the books.

From joining the football team in Orlando to being there as students rushed the Purcell Pavilion floor, 2011-12 was filled with incredible moments. Little did I know, that was just the beginning. 2012-13 reached a whole new level of awesome.

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