Helsinki for the Holidays

By Anna Gonzalez on February 1, 2016 10:00 AM

| No Comments | 1 TrackBack

The end of the Fall semester brings a few weeks of relaxation and unwinding for students at Notre Dame. While they’re still in season, even the hockey team gets some time off to go home and spend Christmas with families and friends. Three members of the team unfortunately couldn’t spend those off days at home in front of a crackling fire while the aromas of cinnamon and pine filled the house.

Anders Bjork, junior forward, Dave Gilbert, equipment manager, and Nick Siergiej, director of hockey operations, spent their Christmas holidays abroad in Helsinki, Finland representing the Land of the Free in the World Junior Championship (WJC). Bjork is one Notre Dame player in a long line of many to be called up to Team USA for the WJC.

Other members currently on the Notre Dame roster who have attended the annual event are Mario Lucia and Tommy DiPauli. Lucia won a gold medal with the team in January 2013 in Russia; DiPauli, along with former Notre Dame forward Vince Hinostroza, played on the 2014 team in Sweden.

Bjork received encouraging words and fond recollections from Lucia and DiPauli before he left for his own Scandinavian venture.

“They both gave me good advice and told me, ‘Don’t be shy. Don’t be nervous. Just go out there, play your game, and play hard. Do the little things right. All these players are going to be good, so you’ve got to make an impact, so do whatever it takes,” he said. “They told me how great of an experience it was for them, so kind of gave me some extra motivation to make that team, try my best in pre-camp, and everything.”

The trip was not Bjork’s first time to Finland. He’d been before with development teams, but he was excited to return. He said it was difficult to be away from his family for Christmas, but he tried to talk to them every day so that the distance didn’t feel as isolating. Admittedly, the experience of being on the national team is worth the sacrifice, though.

“It was a dream come true for me, but I think it also helped me hockey-wise learning things from the coaching staff. Mentally, I feel now that playing some of the top players in the world and realizing that those guys are freakishly good, but I can play with them, has helped my confidence a lot. It just helped me believe in myself, which I think has helped my game already and will definitely help me in the future.”

Since returning, flashes of his new confidence have been apparent and Bjork has reestablished himself as one of the top scorers on the Notre Dame squad.

Bjork had some very familiar faces travelling with him. Dave Gilbert and Nick Siergiej were both called up by the team as well to serve in essentially the same roles for the national team that they’ve been serving at Notre Dame for years.

Gilbert was first to receive the call from Scott Aldrich, the equipment manager for USA Hockey. For Gilbert, the opportunity was one he did not want to pass up, and it the offer, as alluring as it was, brought concern. “I’ll be honest with you,” he said, “The team I was most worried about was my family. Three weeks from home is a long time, especially over the holidays. But my wife was completely supportive and she was awesome. She didn’t even bat an eye at it. She knew it was a cool opportunity and something that I’d always thought about doing.” With his wife’s support and the go-ahead from head coach Jeff Jackson, Gilbert took the job and began work with a second team.

His work began early, but was fairly light for a while. Beginning with phone calls and emails, Gilbert started to collect information about equipment sizes and preferences for the players on the national team roster so that they could start placing orders. He had to make some slight changes to his personal system of organization because of the unfamiliarity with the players he was working with. “For us, I do the backup sticks by number. There, I had to do them by alphabetical order because I had no clue what numbers went with names.” The accumulation of practices increased familiarity and soon, names and numbers were no longer an issue.

Like Bjork, Gilbert had been to Finland before, but not for two decades. He’d been along with Coach Jackson, also with the national team, but he mentioned that they didn’t go to Helsinki on that trip. They were restricted to the training facilities in Vierumaki. This trip also took the team to Vierumaki, which Gilbert said reminded him of his home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

For Siergiej, this was the first experience he had with a national team. He had also done little international travel. The opportunity came for him directly from Coach Jackson. “It was one day here this summer. We were working camp, and he comes in and sits right in the chair in my office and asks, ‘Are you interested in working World Juniors?’ and I’m like, ‘Um, yeah, I’m interested. Are you okay with me leaving?’ Because at that time, we knew Gilly was going, and we knew how our staff operates. Gilly and I are a duo on a lot of stuff, so it was, ‘Are you okay with both of us being gone?'” Because there were a few months to plan, Jackson was again supportive of temporarily losing a staff member, and Siergiej readied his passport.

While Bjork was busy playing the game and Gilbert was organizing equipment, Siergiej was working heavily with the coaching staff cutting film for study. “I spent a lot of time with Coach Wilson, Chris Chelios, and Dan Cole, and our other assistant Kevin Rider,” he recalled.

It was somewhat surreal in ways as well. “Being around Chris Chelios–the knowledge of the game that he has is unbelievable as is his attention to detail.” Chelios was a defenseman in the National Hockey League for 26 seasons and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

“Sometimes you think with superstars, they’re just naturally gifted and they don’t know how to teach it, but he was just unbelievable with our guys, with our kids. It was really cool to get to know him on a personal level, not just like ‘Hey, you’re Chris Chelios.’ I can text him if I want. He’s a good friend now.”

All three found the gameplay the most memorable part of the trip. “Starting off with Canada was intense. That day, it felt to me–the last time I remembered feeling like that was like playing Boston College in the national championship game. It was that level of intensity,” said Gilbert. In very few things are Canada and the United States at odds with each other, but hockey can  spark a friendly rivalry. “Right off the bat,” Siergiej corroborated, “the Canada game grabbed your focus.”

“Before we played Canada,” Siergiej said, “Jake Evans sent me a text that said, ‘You guys are going down.”

Evans, a sophomore from Toronto, Ontario, also sent a text to Bjork, his roommate on the Notre Dame campus. “He texted me before the game, ‘Go Canada!’ with a bunch of Canadian flag emojis, so I didn’t respond until after. Thank God we won that one.”

After beating Canada with a final score 4-2, Team USA moved on to further preliminary games against Sweden (L, 0-1), Switzerland (W, 10-1), and Denmark (W, 4-1). The quarterfinal game was fought against a Czech Republic team, renowned for having a talented team every year. “We were anxious there, but then we ended up taking care of them pretty easily,” Gilbert boasted.

The semifinal game was when emotions revved up. For Gilbert, he said, “That’s when it really, really, really hit me that we were playing international hockey. We moved over to Hartwall arena, and you’re in front of 13,000 fans, and a lot of them are Russian because they’re so close to their borders there, and Canada travels so well. And for whatever reason, Canada hates us, so between the Russians and the Canadians, it was a pro-Russia environment, and you’re just sitting on the bench going like–it kind of makes you think about the 1980 Olympics, and that kind of thing. You’re just going ‘Holy Cow. This is like US/Russia. This isn’t Notre Dame/BC anymore.’ So that was probably my ‘Aha!’ moment, when you’re like, ‘Holy cow, this is pretty special.'”

A 2-1 loss to Russia was a disappointment for the young American team. Bjork partly credits the loss to the inability to build a foundation for team chemistry due to time pressures. “I think we had the most skill there, but we just weren’t together very long and stuff, so we couldn’t go through those adverse situations.”

That loss led the team to their bronze medal game victory against Sweden, in which Bjork scored twice, once in the first period and once in the second. Consequently, he was named the U.S. Player of the Game. But the medal was not his biggest takeaway from the game.

“Individually, [it’s] definitely confidence. Not being cocky, but believing in myself and knowing I can play with any player and make an impact in any game is just what I take away from that tournament. Also, what ties into that, is focusing on the details and acting more professional.”

Even though the experience required personal sacrifice from all three men, it was a chance to represent both their school and their country on an international, highly competitive stage. Spending their holiday vacation in an unconventional setting gave them an unconventional Christmas present, and one only an elite group has: a medal from a World Championship.

Irish Alumni Head to Super Bowl 50

By Laura Thomas on January 25, 2016 11:21 AM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Super Bowl 50 is just two weeks away and on Sunday night, three former Notre Dame players punched their ticket to the Big Game in The Ba

Ryan Harris, a veteran tackle for the Broncos, took the opportunity to capture an awesome selfie with his legendary quarterback.

When that selfie game so strong….

— Ryan Harris (@salaams_from_68) January 25, 2016

And while David Bruton Jr. was sidelined with a leg injury, he had a couple photo ops of his own with rapper T.I. and professional snowboarder Arielle Gold.

TI, @only1tnix and I before we won to go to the Super Bowl! #SuperBowl50

A photo posted by David Bruton Jr. (@d_brutjr30) on Jan 24, 2016 at 4:08pm PST

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.25.57 AM.png

Panthers long snapper JJ Jansen will be taking on Harris and Bruton on Feb. 7. Still waiting on his selfie with Cam Newton.

#3 Women’s Basketball Holds First-Ever Special Olympics Clinic

By Laura Thomas on January 7, 2016 11:33 AM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Winter Break: A couple of weeks when most college students get the opportunity to go home, relax, and spend some time with their family and friends without the stress of unending schoolwork looming over their heads.  

For college basketball student-athletes, though, winter break means something entirely different. While school may stop temporarily, basketball does not and, for them, practices and games go on.  

Without classes and schoolwork, there can be some extra down time. For the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, this down time is an opportunity to give back to the community that limes-out Purcell Pavilion loud and proud for every home game.

Tis the season ÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ °ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ¸ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ½ÃƒÆ’Æ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬Ã… ¡ ¬ÃƒÆ’â ‚¬ ¦ ¾

Giving back to the community that gives us so much ÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ °ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ¸ ÃÆ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ ‚¬Å¡ ¬Ãƒ €¦ ¡ ¬

— NOTRE DAME WBB (@ndwbb) December 17, 2015

After finishing their finals week responsibilities, members of the team spent time outside of Meijer volunteering as bell ringers for the Salvation Army

Director of Women’s Basketball Operations Katie Capps is new to the position at Notre Dame this year but, she understands the importance of involving student-athletes with the outside community. In fact, she did exactly that during her 11 seasons on the women’s basketball staff at the University of Kansas. One of their most successful events was a clinic they held every year for local Special Olympics athletes. Knowing that it was always a hit with the women’s team at KU, Capps decided to give it a shot at Notre Dame, and winter break was the perfect opportunity.  

The Notre Dame team invited members of the St. Joseph County Special Olympics to showcase their skills and learn even more from the number three team in the country. Just over 50 athletes of all ages showed up, a turnout that was larger than expected for Capps and the team.

“[I was] very pleased,” said Capps. “With it being the first time we have done a clinic of this type, we weren’t sure what to expect. [The Special Olympics] director mentioned that he was shocked at how many came out as well, with it being a first time event.”

At the beginning of the clinic, the entire Notre Dame team went through introductions. As each player said their name, they received a respectable “two claps” in unison from the Special Olympics athletes. However, the last person to introduce themselves got a roaring round of applause. That person was Hall of Fame Coach Muffet McGraw. Clearly, the Special Olympics athletes know a great coach when they see one.

Next, the participants broke up into groups and rotated between four stations, each led by different members of the Notre Dame team.

“It was a nice change of pace to be able to coach them and teach them different skills like shooting, dribbling and passing,” said senior guard Michaela Mabrey. “Watching them have the biggest smiles on their faces while doing it was an amazing feeling.”


Junior Forward Kristina Nelson


Senior Guard Hannah Huffman


Sophomore Forward Kathryn Westbeld


Fifth-Year Guard Maddie Cable

After the drill work came the real competition.

Of course, the main event took place on the main floor – Purcell Pavilion. The Special Olympics athletes played against one another in an intense game of 5-on-5, coached by the Notre Dame players and reffed by none other than Muffet McGraw.

While the only fans in the stands were family and friends of the Special Olympics athletes, Purcell Pavilion was by no means quiet. From yelling words of encouragement at their players to yelling, even louder, complaints at the “inexperienced” ref, the Notre Dame players fully embraced their coaching roles.  

Who knew @HannahHuff22 would be such an intense coach…

— Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger) January 5, 2016

At one point, Maddie Cable did her best Muffet McGraw impersonation; the thinking-woman squat, a position that’s insanely impressive given that McGraw usually does it in heels and a skirt.


Overall, the event was a success for the participants, who got the chance to have some fun and meet their local idols, and the Notre Dame team, who relished the opportunity to step away from the intensity of practice and games and have some fun with other people who also enjoy the sport.

“I absolutely loved our first annual Special Olympics clinic,” said Mabrey. “I really hope that it continues in the future because it was extremely special watching both kids and adults enjoy the game of basketball the way that our team does every day.”

IMG_1211 (1).JPG

Senior Michaela Mabrey with her new friend, Tommy

IMG_1283 (1).JPG

Freshman Arike Ogunbowale gives a high-five to one of her Special Olympics players at the end of the game

IMG_1217 (1).JPG

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new tradition in the program that will continue for years to come.

Watch the full video recap below:

ÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ °ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ¸ ÃÆ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ ‚¬Å¡ ¬Ãƒ €¦ ¡ ¬ Wonder what would happen if @ndwbb players coached their own teams?

We found out, and it was pretty sweet.

— The Fighting Irish (@FightingIrish) January 7, 2016

Coach McGraw Escapes Gatorade Shower After 800th Win

By Laura Thomas on January 4, 2016 2:55 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw earned her 800th career win as a head coach after the team’s 65-55 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
A gatorade shower would normally be called for in these situations but, thankfully for Coach McGraw, she escaped without one.
Check out the video below:

ÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ °ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ¸ ÃÆ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ ‚¬Å¡ ¬Ãƒ €¦ ¡ ¬ How would you celebrate your coach’s 800th career win?

The @ndwbb squad went with a trick play.

— The Fighting Irish (@FightingIrish) January 4, 2016

Judging by these former players’ reactions, you can see why the team decided not to do the real thing.

omg I really thought y’all were about to pour water/gatorade on her!!! lool @mmabrey23 @mcable22

— Natalie Achonwa (@NatAchon) January 3, 2016

@MsPeters14 @mmabrey23 @mcable22 I was saying “no they didnt, no they didnt, omgomgomg” the whole vid lmao

— Natalie Achonwa (@NatAchon) January 3, 2016

@MsPeters14 @NatAchon @mmabrey23 @mcable22 @ndwbb me too!!! They would’ve been BOLD for that one lol

— Skylar Diggins (@SkyDigg4) January 3, 2016

2015 Notre Dame Hockey MoWards

By Anna Gonzalez on December 24, 2015 3:17 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

After collecting the team’s votes, I’m proud to announce to you the winners of this year’s MoWards. After a month of vacation for their razors, the team sported facial hair of many sorts for the month of November, during which they raised a total of $3,503 for prostate and testicular cancer research. This is the team’s fourth year participating in No-Shave November, first introduced by Stephen Johns (’14) in 2012. Eric Johnson (’15) took over for the 2014-15 season, and this year, senior forward Sam Herr took charge. He and the team raised $1,250, to be donated to the Movember Foundation, on their Mo Space page online. The remaining $2,253 was raised through silent auctions held during the games of the Shillelagh Tournament, Nov. 27-28, and will be donated to St. Joseph Health System of Mishawaka. As you’ll see by the awards, a few players did better in the voting than others, but many of the categories were a close race. For more photos of the team’s mustaches, visit their Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who donated!

Graphics by Conor Levey

Behind the Scenes of #ECHOES15

By Laura Thomas on December 14, 2015 3:52 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Allow me to introduce the Twitter Mirror, also known as the latest social media craze on the sidelines at athletic events and on the red carpet and backstage at awards shows. The innovative selfie-taking technological marvel (an iPad in a plastic frame shaped like a mirror) aims to capture celebrities and events in a less formal, more spontaneous fashion that posts directly to twitter.
We thought, if they can do it at the Grammys, why can’t we do it at the Notre Dame Football awards show, ECHOES?
So, I was handed a Twitter Mirror to document the night. Here’s a collection of some of the best moments from #ECHOES15 with the #TwitterMirror.

I’ve got a new toy.. #twittermirror

Follow @NDFootball and #ECHOES15 to see all the awards show action from tonight

— Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger) December 11, 2015

Accepting my @ndsportsblogger of the year award!!

Thanks to all my friends for showin up to support #ECHOES15

— Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger) December 11, 2015

The guests began to arrive…

The Man of the Hour has arrived! Great to have Dolly from the Alumni Association too!


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 11, 2015

Coach Elston and Romeo ( @romeond45 ) brought their best suit and tie game tonight ÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ °ÃƒÆ’Æ €™Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ ¸ÃƒÆ’Æ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬Ã… ¡ ¬ÃƒÆ’â ‚¬ ¹Ãƒ €¦Ã¢ ‚¬Å“ÃÆ €™ ¢ÃƒÆ’ ¢Ãƒ ¢Ã¢ €š ¬Ã… ¡ ¬


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 11, 2015

D-Boyz in the house! (And women’s swimming)


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 11, 2015

Mark Harrell sporting the Duck Dynasty starter kit with fellow O-Linemen Steve Elmer and Mike McGlinchey #ECHOES15

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

Chase and Romeo making an early run for Best Dressed tonight


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

Corey Robinson, Matthias Farley, and Avery Sebastian are clearly excited to be here…….. #ECHOES15

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

Josh Adams, Torii Hunter Jr., Cole Luke, and Amir Carlisle pause for a red carpet selfie…..or 4


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

There are 44 touchdowns in this picture.


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

How many running backs can we fit in one selfie?


— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

Backstage, we caught each student-athlete with their coach right after they received their award.

Mr. Jarrett Grace… Getting it done on and off the field. Our Rockne Student-Athlete of the Year!

— Todd Lyght (@CoachLyghtND) December 12, 2015

How bout this guy?

DeShone Kizer is our Offensive Newcomer of the Year #RedArmy #ECHOES15

— Coach Mike Sanford (@CoachSanfordND) December 12, 2015

Old school new school Domers

Irish Around the Bend Award goes to none other than Joe Schmidt #ECHOES15

— autry denson (@autrydenson) December 12, 2015

My man all day!

The Moose Krause Defensive Lineman of the Year Sheldon Day #ECHOES15

— Keith Gilmore (@CoachGilmoreND) December 12, 2015

Nick Martin and Coach Hiestand declined to use the Twitter mirror. #Rejection #Echoes15

— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 12, 2015

Juice Player of the Year… Matthias Farley


— Scott Booker (@CoachSBooker) December 12, 2015

Proud of my man! Jerry Tillery… Defensive Newcomer of the Year. #ECHOES15

— Mike Elston (@CoachMikeElston) December 12, 2015

The Predator is on the hunt.

Defensive Player of the Year Jaylon Smith #ECHOES15

— Brian VanGorder (@CoachVanGorder) December 12, 2015

Shoutout to my boy @ronnie_stanley on being awarded Offensive Player of the Year! Go Irish! #ECHOES15

— Mike Denbrock (@MikeDenbrock) December 12, 2015

Happy to stand in for Brian Kelly as he’s busy presenting the MVP award…

Congrats CJ! Next Man In!


— Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger) December 12, 2015

Zamboni Riders feat. Jerry Tillery and Matthias Farley

By Laura Thomas on December 8, 2015 1:52 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Notre Dame football players Jerry Tillery and Matthias Farley were the guest zamboni riders at the hockey game vs. UMass this past Saturday. The two quickly learned that an entire intermission is a long time to be on a zamboni with an arena full of fans staring at you.  

Luckily, the guys were pretty entertaining. Check out their moves.
1. Whip (but don’t Nae Nae)
Matthias Whip.gif

2. Raise the Roof (2).gif
3. The Sprinkler
Matthias Sprinker 2.gif

4. Fist Pump and Salute
Jerry Fist Pump:Salute.gif

5. Saturday Night Fever
Matthias Disco 2.gif

6. The Power Point
The Power Point.gif

7. Rub Your Stomach/Pat Your Head
Rub your stomach.gif

Student-Athlete Pageant Raises Money to Send Former ND Track Stars to Rio Olympics

By Laura Thomas on December 7, 2015 12:06 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Last Thursday night, Notre Dame student-athletes showed off their best hidden talents at the 2nd Annual Student-Athlete Pageant. Competitive jump roping, balloon animal making, and broadway musical reenactments were just some of the talents on display as 14 student-athletes competed for the titles of “Mr. and Ms. ND”.

The pageant was organized by the Student Athlete Advisory Council to help raise funds to send three former Notre Dame track stars to the 2016 Rio Olympics; Patrick Feeney (’14), Chris Giesting (’15) and Jade Barber (’15). Their combined Notre Dame legacy includes 31 All-American honors, 12 Notre Dame school records, and a National Championship, which was won by Giesting in 2012.

Now, all three have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics and are currently training at Notre Dame. This year, the current student-athletes decided to hold the pageant to help Feeney, Giesting and Barber raise money through their GoFundMe site to pursue their Olympic dream.

Football captains Joe Schmidt and Matthias Farley hosted the event and Matthias brought his puppy Harper along for the ride, as well. The 5-month-old German Shorthaired Pointer didn’t spend much time on the stage, though, because she was too busy running around saying ‘Hi’ to everyone in the crowd and eating random things off the floor.

Below are some of the best moments from the 2nd Annual Student-Athlete Pageant.

Joe Schmidt’s entrance.

When football player Sam Bush (’18) threw out Chipotle chips to the crowd.

When basketball player Hannah Huffman (’16) brought her cat Rascal on stage in this sweatshirt.

This fact about tennis player Eric Schnurrenberger (’16).

This amazing performance of Defying Gravity by hockey player Bo Brauer (’18) and rower Olivia Perham (’18).

When swimmer Sydney Golic (’16) made everyone think really hard with this question.

No surprise, that “Wicked” performance by Bo and Olivia won them the crown.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.19.22 PM.png

Ms. Silva’s Third Grade Class

By Laura Thomas on November 23, 2015 11:55 AM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Remember those field trips you went on when you were in third grade? I remember going to the zoo, the science museum, and the symphony, to name a few. (Why someone thought that third graders would be able to sit through, much less appreciate, a two-hour long symphony… I have no idea.)

Imagine going on a third grade field trip to a Notre Dame football game. Sounds like just a dream, right? Not unless you’re in Ms. Silva’s third grade class. Then it’s reality.

It all started three years ago, when Allison Silva’s class at Taylor Leadership Academy in Stockton, California, had to decide what college they wanted to adopt for the year.

“At my school, each class adopts a different college,” says Silva. “Because we’re low-income, it’s a low-income area, I’d say everybody that will go is going to be a first generation college student. So, it’s sort of just a way for them to set that long-term goal of, this is going to be part of my life and they are aware of it.”

Silva’s brother graduated from Notre Dame and her father is, as Ms. Silva says, a big Notre Dame football fan. So, she might be a bit biased. But ultimately, it was the kids who voted to have Notre Dame as their school, in large part because of Notre Dame football.

“[Sports are] just sort of a natural gateway into catching their interest in college because that’s something that they don’t have and is not stressed in their household,” says Silva. “So, Notre Dame is a natural fit. It was so funny, when I kind of presented them with a few choices it was like, ‘Yeah, they’re on my video game.’ I’m like great, if you’re going to be into it and be willing to learn about college. Whatever it takes.”

Now, three years later and with a new group of third graders, Silva said this year’s class has embraced Notre Dame more than any other year.

The walls of the California classroom are covered with Notre Dame and the students wear name tags with the signature leprechaun on them. Before each test, the class lines up and slaps a sign on the wall that says Play Like A Champion Today.

“It sort of gets them in the mindset of, ‘I’m gonna tackle this and I’m excited for this test,'” says Silva.

Test Day Irish Style! @NDFootball @GoFightinIrish @FightingIrish @ASeasonWith @nd_news @NDAlumni @TNNDN @NDonNBC

— Ms Silva’s 3rd Grade (@alsil23) November 6, 2015

To get the class’ attention, Ms. Silva will yell, “Fighting!” to which the kids all respond in unison, “Irish!”. When it’s time to do research of their choice, it’s almost always related to Notre Dame. One third grader found out she had the same birthday as Malik Zaire. After that discovery, Ms. Silva says she caught other kids sneaking on the computer to see if they shared a birthday with any of the players.

The students also write their own word problems that are centered around Notre Dame. Like this one:

@SheldonDay_91 @JerryTillery this is what happens when we make our own word problems! #yourbiggestfans #thatsummary

— Ms Silva’s 3rd Grade (@alsil23) November 10, 2015

Even outside of the classroom, the kids embrace Notre Dame. “Football isn’t allowed at our school, so I have a Notre Dame basketball and they play basketball,” says Silva. “But they say, ‘We’re the Notre Dame football team, playing basketball. I’m Jaylon Smith’ or ‘It’s my turn to be Malik.'”

And, of course, the class watches Notre Dame play on Saturdays, usually at a local pizza parlor.

So proud of these ND students! @FightingIrish @NDFootball @TNNDN @NDonNBC @TheIrishNation @GoFightinIrish

— Ms Silva’s 3rd Grade (@alsil23) November 7, 2015

Last year, Ms. Silva decided to create a twitter account for her class. Not only is the account a way to share photos and videos of their love for Notre Dame but, it’s also a way to connect the kids with the Notre Dame community.

“I wanted to bridge that gap,” says Silva. “We know Notre Dame is a thing, we know that it’s awesome, but how do I get these kids feeling like they’re a part of it.”

Social media was the answer. The twitter account has gotten the attention of some of the players, who will often retweet or “like” tweets from Ms. Silva’s third grade class.

“It’s bigger than just pressing retweet to the kids in my class,” says Silva. “It’s them feeling like they know [the players]. They think that Jerry Tillery wants to eat pizza with them from watching that Showtime episode.”

The twitter account also caught the eye of Ted Mandell, a Film, Television, and Theatre professor at Notre Dame who is involved with producing a series of short documentaries called First Time Fans. Each documentary follows a person experiencing a Notre Dame football game for the first time.

Mandell first saw Ms. Silva’s twitter account in the beginning of October, after someone tweeted at her saying that she should go to a Notre Dame game. When she responded that she had never been to one, Mandell, along with the film’s director Chad Schaffler (ND ’96), thought that Silva would be perfect for the First Time Fans series.

Camera crews wasted no time getting on a flight to Stockton to film Ms. Silva and her Notre Dame class.

“For me, it’s all for the kids,” says Silva. “So, when they said they were coming, I don’t even think I could process thoughts at that point. That’s been the most exciting part for me, that [the kids] felt so included in Notre Dame because these guys came out [to California]. It was like, they don’t just know about us, they care about us.”

A week later, Ms. Silva flew to South Bend for the Wake Forest game, getting the full Notre Dame experience.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Silva facetimed her class to give them an update on the weekend. The kids were excited enough to see Ms. Silva at Notre Dame but when she revealed that she was being joined by Malik Zaire, the class went wild.

For the next 30 minutes, the students proceeded to ask Malik questions about football and sports in general. Mostly, though, the class asked Malik about school and what it was like to be a college student.

At one point, one of the kids asked, “Are you in the Golden Dome?” Unfortunately, we weren’t. Before he said goodbye, the kids sang the fight song to Malik while he clapped along.

“Our local paper used a quote one of the kids said, ‘We are Notre Dame,'” says Silva. “It’s really how they feel now. It’s seriously magical because they don’t think of themselves as third graders. They think, we’re just really small Notre Dame students and that’s what they say. So the whole thing has been surreal.”

Things only became more surreal for Ms. Silva on Saturday before the Wake Forest game, when she found out a generous donor had heard of her and her class and wanted to give them tickets to the Stanford game, just 80 miles from Stockton.

What was the class’ reaction when Ms. Silva told them they would be going to a Notre Dame game? Watch below.

Best trick ever! Thanks to some wonderful generous people we will be attending the ND vs Stanford game! #waywaywayup

— Ms Silva’s 3rd Grade (@alsil23) November 18, 2015

We could never thank our ND family enough! We are so excited! Thank you from our hearts to yours #ndclass2029 #wayup

— Ms Silva’s 3rd Grade (@alsil23) November 18, 2015

While adopting Notre Dame has given the students a group of players to idolize and a team to root for, the most important thing for Ms. Silva is what the Notre Dame football team has been able to teach this group of third graders.

“Even just through following Notre Dame, they’ve learned about all the colleges they’ve played,” says Silva. “So, it’s this awareness of, okay college exists, it’s an option and I can do it and I can get there.”

On Saturday, there will most likely be a good number of Notre Dame fans at the Stanford game. But no one will be louder than Ms. Silva’s third grade class, ND Class of 2029.


Men’s Basketball Season Ticket Delivery

By Laura Thomas on November 13, 2015 7:51 PM

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The men’s basketball team won their season opener Friday night against St. Francis (PA), 87-56.
But before the season got started, Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson surprised a South Bend family by hand-delivering their season tickets.  
After Bonzie and Steve handed off the tickets, they spent some time with the lucky family signing autographs, taking pictures, and playing the piano.  
Check out the cool moment in the video below.  


The duo surprises a family with their @NDmbb Season Tix!


— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) November 13, 2015

<>1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 >>


Subscribe to Irish UNDerground

Most Recent Posts

  • Helsinki for the Holidays
  • Irish Alumni Head to Super Bowl 50
  • #3 Women’s Basketball Holds First-Ever Special Olympics Clinic
  • Coach McGraw Escapes Gatorade Shower After 800th Win
  • 2015 Notre Dame Hockey MoWards
  • Behind the Scenes of #ECHOES15
  • Zamboni Riders feat. Jerry Tillery and Matthias Farley
  • Student-Athlete Pageant Raises Money to Send Former ND Track Stars to Rio Olympics
  • Ms. Silva’s Third Grade Class


  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015


  • Baseball (65)
  • Cross Country (20)
  • Fencing (16)
  • Football (442)
  • Hockey (90)
  • Irish UNDerground (994)
  • Men’s Basketball (162)
  • Men’s Golf (24)
  • Men’s Lacrosse (47)
  • Men’s Soccer (35)
  • Men’s Swimming & Diving (22)
  • Men’s Tennis (17)
  • Monogram Club (149)
  • Olympics (4)
  • Rowing (16)
  • Softball (17)
  • Track & Field (24)
  • Volleyball (37)
  • Women’s Basketball (135)
  • Women’s Golf (18)
  • Women’s Lacrosse (28)
  • Women’s Soccer (47)
  • Women’s Swimming & Diving (21)
  • Women’s Tennis (19)

Popular Tags

  • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Comments

  • notre dame gear: “Lime green 42… fashionably correct fuchsia 42… hut, hut.. HIKE!” read more
  • Zachary Barredo: Hi, what type of air playne it was there!? read more
  • celtic544: Who’s next for the Irish? Slippery Rock? read more
  • WallsKatheryn21: One understands that life seems to be high priced, nevertheless we need money for different issues and not every person read more
  • Frank Lardy: Great Piece!! My wife and I were laughing out loud at this. read more
  • HensonCONSTANCE: That’s cool that we can receive the loan and that opens up new possibilities. read more
  • GEOB: The only positive coming from this game is Coach Kelly’s relization (I hope) that Hendricks is the present and future read more
  • tom matthews: Notre Dame’s football team is fast becoming unwatchable. The current team has not improved since game one. Penalties and turnovers read more
  • game of thrones: People around me are all talking about game of thrones these days. I am so happy because I am a read more
  • brian hess: PATHETIC!! read more