Sep 9, 2013
By Vicky Jacobsen
What does it take to get Notre Dame student athletes out of bed on a Saturday morning?
Try a community event for a good cause.
The men’s tennis team held two morning clinics as part of Saturday’s “Smash MS” event, which was designed to raise awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disorder that affects over 7,500 people in the state of Indiana alone.
The first hour-long clinic was open to South Bend-area youngsters, and the second to members of the Notre Dame community.
“It was an awesome experience,” senior Greg Andrews said. “I always enjoy teaching the younger kids, so I love every opportunity we have to do that. It was a great turnout, a lot of people came, so it was a great day.”
The men’s basketball team and the softball team joined the men’s tennis team. Men’s tennis head coach Ryan Sachire said he hopes to emulate the efforts the softball team has made to fight leukemia.
“We’re going to keep pursuing this,” Sachire said. “One of the big goals of mine, taking over the program a few months ago, was to identify our program with a specific cause. We felt like we could really make a difference in the community and give our players an opportunity to use their status as student-athletes for the betterment of others.”
Sachire said the team decided to focus on multiple sclerosis because several people close to the program are living with the disease, including the mother of senior Matt Dooley and a former Notre Dame cheerleader who served as the maid of honor at Sachire’s wedding. Both women spoke at Saturday’s event.
“The reality is that it can happen to anybody,” Sachire said. “It’s a neurological disease that affects the brain, and you can be the healthiest person in the world, and yet you can still get this disease.”
Although the clinics were free, donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society were collected throughout the day.
Jennifer Liddell, the development coordinator for the Indiana chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, was on hand for the activities.
“Anything that brings awareness is a great start,” Liddell said. “We have different events throughout the state that are fundraising-event specific. But anything like this, where people can come out and show support, are always a good thing.”
One of the highlights of the morning came when basketball and softball players tried their luck on the court against members of the tennis team. Andrews hit against sophomore forward Austin Burgett. So how did the hoopster do with a racket?
“He has potential, I’ll say that,” Andrews said with a laugh.