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NDSportsBlogger Retrospective: Part 2

Jun 7, 2013, 8:15 AM EDT

The following is part two of three blog entries looking back on my internship with Fighting Irish Digital Media. A new “NDSportsBlogger” is set to begin next week, so I will be posting part three on Friday with a few final thoughts on my experience with FIDM.

While June and July are quiet on Notre Dame’s campus, things certainly didn’t slow down for FIDM in summer 2012. My big project was managing the 125 website, a digital collection to celebrate 125 years of Notre Dame football.

The summer involved a few trips to the University Archives, and several more browses through the filing cabinets in the Media Relations office. During this time, I found some incredible photos, newspaper clippings, video footage and other artifacts from throughout the Fighting Irish’s illustrious football history. Additionally, FIDM interviewed several former players and coaches, where I had the privilege of accompanying Ted Mandell on trips to interview Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.

As FIDM was preparing to move to a new facility in the Joyce Center, we welcomed Christianne Harder to the FIDM team as our social media manager, so summer 2012 also saw a shift in the focus of my internship. Starting out, I spent more time on social media, but during July, we launched the new Notre Dame athletics blog network through WordPress (which you’re currently reading). At that point, I became more the “ND Sports Blogger” than the “social media intern.”

By the time we officially launched the 125 website in late August, I had developed a new appreciation for Notre Dame’s football history. I had grown up an Irish fan, and my affinity for the gold and blue had grown during my time as a student and intern, but the project took it to a new level.

I had a much better sense of how and why this small Catholic university in northern Indiana had become the home of a gridiron powerhouse. Learning about the seven Heisman Trophy winners, 11 national championships, and dozens of other great moments over the Irish’s celebrated football history was special. What was even better, was knowing that the research and writing had been doing, would be featured on a website that thousands of Irish fans would visit throughout the year.

And that was just the beginning.

At the end of August, I experienced my first taste of Europe, accompanying the Fighting Irish on their trip across the pond to play the season opener against Navy at Aviva Stadium. Dublin is a special city. I would visit it again in a heartbeat.

In addition to the team’s practices, I was able to accompany the team for a few other activities, including a visit to Taylors Three Rock for an Irish meal, music and dancing, as well as on a tour through the city.

One of the great things about the trip to Ireland was that not only did we get to experience Dublin, but we stayed in Wicklow, so we had the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside.

And to be perfectly honest, at that point, the Irish could have finished 8-5 and I wouldn’t have been the slightest bit upset.

But like a great book or movie, the 2012 season just kept getting better.

Celebrating a game-winning field goal with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, watching the Irish dominate Michigan State in East Lansing, seeing the stellar defense intercept Denard Robinson… *cue LeBron Miami Heat intro video* not one, not two, not three….four times, in a win over Michigan at Notre Dame Stadium.

On the long walk back to the car following a 41-3 crushing of Miami in the Shamrock Series game at Soldier Field, Christianne, Oak and I were checking Twitter…which, should probably come as no surprise. In between talking about the win and stopping at crosswalks, this tweet popped up in my timeline:

Needless to say, we were thrilled. In my opinion, College GameDay is one of the most fun things about college football, and ESPN hadn’t taken its road show to Notre Dame’s campus since 2005.

During the lead up to the game against Miami, NFL Films had followed the Irish throughout the week, which of course included a visit to the locker room for Trick Shot Monday. What started as a mindless locker room diversion had grown into a bit of a YouTube sensation, especially with Jake Golic’s appearance in Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays for this legendary shot.

But Trick Shot Monday’s popularity reached a new level when ESPN sent Samantha Steele (Ponder) to campus to participate during Stanford Week. Not wanting to give away the winner before Saturday morning’s broadcast, we teased the shot in our video on Monday evening.

Silly as it may be, seeing Trick Shot Monday on College GameDay is one of the proudest moments of my time with Fighting Irish Digital Media.

With the energy of College GameDay and Mike & Mike In The Morning broadcasting from campus, the Irish could have been playing St. Joseph High School and it would have still been one of the best weekends of the year.

But oh yeah… the 3:30 pm matchup featured the #7 Irish against the 17th-ranked Stanford Cardinal. And the game more than lived up to the hype. Standing in a downpour, we witnessed a goal line stand for the ages, one of the most unforgettable defensive stops in Notre Dame football history. (On a related note, I challenge everyone to find a better call in the history of Tom Hammond broadcasting Irish football games than, “Taylor…he’s stopped…Notre Dame wins!”)

Beating Oklahoma in Norman, a triple overtime thriller versus Pittsburgh, a shutout on Senior Day and a goal line stand against USC to seal a perfect regular season.

With the disappointment of losing to Alabama and some of the turmoil that the program has gone through during 2013, it might be easy to forget just how much fun this past season was for every Irish fan. Cliché as it sounds, nothing will take away those memories from 2012.

In February, College GameDay returned for a highly anticipated matchup between Louisville and Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion, and for the first 39 minutes, it was a rather forgettable evening. That was until, of course, Jerian Grant took over. Five overtimes later, the Irish had pulled off a 104-101 upset – arguably the game of the year in men’s college basketball.

Speaking of games of the year, on March 4, Notre Dame and Connecticut renewed their rivalry for the final contest of the women’s BIG EAST regular season. In Skylar Diggins’ last performance in front of the hometown crowd, the Irish won in three overtimes to secure their second consecutive regular season conference title, and adding yet another moment to the growing list of unforgettable Notre Dame victories I’ve had the privilege of seeing in person (yet I’m starting to think I’m bad luck when it comes to postseason competition).

Around that same time, I had the opportunity to interview for the Communications Associate position with the Monogram Club.

A few final thoughts on FIDM and joining the Monogram Club team in part three later this weekend…

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