Early exit by Irish adds insult to injury

first_imgMany students’ faces turned Oklahoma crimson Saturday when some football players entered the tunnel before singing the Alma Mater in the team’s first home loss since Oct. 22, 2011. In a press conference Sunday, Irish coach Brian Kelly said he implemented a policy to not sing the Alma Mater after home losses two years ago, but had neglected to communicate it clearly to some of the team’s younger players. “I wasn’t thinking about losing a football game,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t on my to-do list to go over with our team.” Kelly said he decided the team would not sing the Alma Mater after home losses, a change in policy he said protected his players. The football team first joined the student section to sing the Alma Mater under the direction of former Irish coach Charlie Weis. The tradition of the team joining the student section to sing the Alma Mater after games started during the 2006 season under the direction of former Irish coach Charlie Weis. “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to put your players after defeat in a situation where they are exposed,” Kelly said. “I want to get them in the locker room. It’s important to be able to talk to them, and I just felt like in those situations after a loss, there’s a lot of emotions. It’s important to get the team back into the locker room and get them under my guidance.” Senior Ben Finan said most students were also unaware of the policy and reacted emotionally to the confusion over the Alma Mater. “I was confused. The policy had not been announced previously,” Finan said. “This was something that was not addressed publicly and apparently some of the players didn’t know.” According to gameday.nd.edu, singing the Alma Mater after all home games is a “stadium tradition.” The website states, “And whether or not Notre Dame wins, you’ll see the Fighting Irish team approach the student section to sing the Alma Mater together.” Sophomore Megan Ball said most students expected the team to uphold this tradition and were shocked to see players leaving the stadium. However, she said her opinion of the players who left changed when she learned of the policy. “I wasn’t aware of the policy not to sing the Alma Mater after a loss so initially I thought it was rude that they were leaving and not singing the Alma Mater with the student body,” Ball said. “I understand that they were told to leave, but at the same time I definitely admire the players who chose to override that policy.” Freshman Morgan Widhalm said even the freshmen knew something was not right. “We were really confused because we hadn’t seen many games yet. But … when people started walking out, I know almost everyone in the stands was gesturing, ‘Come here, come here,’” she said. “It was almost like everything I knew about the world was flipped over because that was such a Notre Dame thing and we just didn’t understand.” Finan said Kelly’s decision to have players enter the locker room immediately after home losses does not respect the players’ dual roles as students and athletes. “Part of what makes Notre Dame the Notre Dame family is that we treat our student athletes as students and athletes,” Finan said. “… Telling them to go into the locker room tells me that [Kelly] values them as athletes before students and that’s incorrect.” Senior Jen Gallic said Kelly’s choice disrespects the Alma Mater’s religious component. “Our Alma Mater is actually a prayer too, so God first,” Gallic said. “‘God, country, Notre Dame.’” Because of the unifying quality of the post-game tradition, senior Connor Sullivan said she thinks the players are far from “exposed” when they’re singing the Alma Mater. “For the most part, people stay until the end of the game. Losing a game and being able to as a player stand down there and see that your whole school is still there and is still behind you – that probably is more emotionally stabilizing than going in and having your coach try and debrief you about what just happened,” Sullivan said. Finan said he feels singing the Alma Mater shows the student body’s support for the players. “I feel like the players are no better protected ever than when they’re one of us, and it’s one student body, and it’s not that the players are down there and we’re up here,” he said. “He’s basically saying, ‘I don’t want you to be with the student body. I want us to be together as a team,’ and it’s very frustrating.” Senior quarterback Tommy Rees and graduate student linebacker Carlo Calabrese, two of the team’s leaders, did choose to sing the Alma Mater. Finan said he appreciated their choice to stand with their peers. “I know that if [Kelly] would’ve asked those players about this decision, they would’ve obviously disagreed with him because they felt strongly enough that they were willing to defy his direct instructions,” Finan said. Senior Matthew Cunningham, president of the Leprechaun Legion, said he personally disagrees with Kelly’s decision. Still, he said he retainss faith in the coach’s motivations. “If it’s a team policy that they don’t [sing], then that’s just something that I have to accept,” he said. Cunningham said the student section should not have booed right before the Alma Mater or at the end of the first half when Kelly chose to take a knee with 40 seconds left. “I don’t think it was right to boo. As Coach Kelly said in his press conference … in his estimation he didn’t think there was enough time to go and get a field goal and he has a better sense of the flow of the game, how his offense is working,” Cunningham said. “As the head coach, I’m sure his players trust his judgment.” Finan said the students were not booing the players but the coaching staff, even though NBC commentators misinterpreted the situation. “To take a knee from the 30 yard line says to me, ‘I don’t have faith that you can produce right now,’” Finan said. “I understand that you want to be on damage control, as well, of not allowing things to get worse, but you have to try to win the game, and part of that is picking up the momentum going into the locker room, not just going out.”last_img read more

City arrange Melbourne meeting

first_img City have announced they will play the A-League side as part of their preparations for the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season at Gold Coast’s CBus Super Stadium on July 18. City are holding an 11-day training camp in the region – and will also face Adelaide United behind closed doors on July 15 – before playing International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid and Roma in Melbourne on July 21 and 24 respectively. Manchester City have added an additional friendly against sister club Melbourne City to the programme for their pre-season tour of Australia. Press Associationlast_img read more

Childhood bond empowered Zack Mahoney to be president of Syracuse’s Uplifting Athletes chapter

first_imgZack Mahoney rubbed his hands on his knees to wipe away the sweat. His heart raced. The room went silent. Then, he smiled and hung up the phone. “Oh my god, I’m a walk-on at Syracuse,” Angela Donegan recalled Mahoney saying. “We were literally screaming,” Donegan added. It was the week of Christmas 2014, and Mahoney had just completed his redshirt freshman season at the College of DuPage in Illinois. His dream was to play at a Power 5 school, and that was his chance. Within three weeks, he had sent over his DuPage transcripts and been accepted to Syracuse to begin football on Jan. 3, 2015. When he received the call, Mahoney and members of the Donegan family cried. Mahoney was sitting on the couch next to one of his closest friends since the second grade, Blake Donegan. Blake battles Niemann-Pick disease, Type C, a lipid storage affliction that can cause liver damage and respiratory failure. He suffers seizures daily, his mother, Angela, said. The disease has no known cure and can be fatal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’ve kinda always been waiting for this bomb to drop,” Angela said.Whenever he’s home from Syracuse, in the offseason or on break, Mahoney visits Blake, often bringing with him Syracuse gear. Mahoney, Syracuse’s senior backup quarterback who has thrown for 18 touchdowns over three seasons, serves as the president of SU’s chapter for Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that is intended to raise awareness about rare diseases. Mahoney grew close with Blake, a childhood connection that empowered him to become the president of SU’s chapter.“On the first day of high school, when I saw him, he was in a wheelchair,” Mahoney said. “I was extremely confused, because over the school year he was running around, fine, and now to this day, he struggles to stand on his own. He struggles to eat by himself. He struggles to speak. It’s tough. He’s always in good spirits when I’m around. He’s given me a lot of inspiration for everything I do.”Blake cheered on Mahoney when he played at DuPage, a junior college. Though he has never been to the Carrier Dome, he expects to watch Mahoney’s final college game on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. from his television. The Orange (4-7, 2-5 Atlantic Coast) will host Boston College (6-5, 3-4) on Senior Day inside the Carrier Dome, and Mahoney will likely make his 10th and final career start under center. Courtesy of Zack MahoneyThis summer, Mahoney led Syracuse in its fifth annual “Lift for Life” event in which SU football players compete in physical activities to raise money for the chapter. In 2013, Syracuse joined Uplifting Athletes, which the Orange created to honor former punter and team captain Rob Long, who overcame Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a rare form of brain cancer that caused him to miss the final game of his career, the Pinstripe Bowl, in 2010. Long has been cancer free since March 2011 and now works as Uplifting Athletes’ director of development. It will be seven years next month since Long underwent the brain surgery that caused him to miss his final collegiate game. Now, Uplifting Athletes runs a network of 22 university chapters at Division I schools, including at Penn State, Clemson and Syracuse. Rare diseases affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States, and Uplifting Athletes has had an economic impact of more than $400 million on the rare-disease community, per the organization. Mahoney will soon step down as president, but he has left footprints all over the Syracuse chapter. “Zack has been an incredible chapter president for us, part of a great pipeline of guys who step up,” Long said. “He’s done an excellent job rallying the team, getting all 120 voices of the program involved. Our growth has been special.”Mahoney wouldn’t be president if not for Blake, whom he met in elementary school. The pair bonded while playing football during recess. They played little league baseball together. But Mahoney didn’t see Blake for a full summer before ninth grade. Blake entered school that year in a wheelchair. Mahoney wondered why. For years, Angela kept Blake’s condition a secret. She said she did not want him to be treated differently from other kids. When he was 16, in 2011, Angela ended the secret.“He lost his ability to speak and he can’t walk much,” Angela said. “It frustrates him. Many kids have eating tubes. He can’t sit up and walk on his own. But he’s truly a fighter. People like Zack keep him going.”Mahoney has made 5:30 a.m. hospital visits to see Blake. He has banged on the Donegan family door at 11 p.m. when home on break, just to hug Blake. When they watch TV together, Mahoney sits right next to Blake and puts his arm around him. They lay together in a hammock in the Donegan backyard. Throughout high school and his career at Syracuse, Mahoney has kept in close contact with Blake. “The thing always impressed me,” said Tony Pendergast, Blake’s school nurse who rode the bus and went to every class with Blake for six years, “was that Zack greeted him in class. He included him in class activities. He sat with him. During lunch at the cafeteria, Zack would sometimes sit with us at our table. He was an example for other students. When you see Zack doing it, the quarterback, a very popular student, making all of this time for Blake, other kids would follow that.”Mahoney arrived at Syracuse in January 2015 as a walk-on. By February, he had heard about Uplifting Athletes and knew he wanted to be president because of all the times people have double-taked at Blake. The relationship between Blake and Mahoney has only grown. They snap each other daily. They FaceTime often. They play together in the pool or on a trampoline in the Donegan family’s backyard. Mahoney never hangs up the phone without telling Blake that he loves him. Before Blake had a scheduled surgery early this month, Mahoney called him to wish him good luck. And every time he visits, Mahoney doesn’t leave without giving Blake a hug and a kiss.”I love you, brother,” Mahoney always says. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 25, 2017 at 1:26 am Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21last_img read more