“Irish Take on Michigan State in Regular Season Finale” – Rakes of Mallow

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It’s been a tale of two entirely different seasons for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Michigan State Spartans hockey teams. Both teams were predicted to be in the upper echelon of not only the CCHA, but also the national picture as well. Prior to tonight’s game, you’ll find Notre Dame sitting atop conference and national standings. MSU, on the other hand, has struggled the entire season, failing to live up to the high expectations prior to an NCAA tournament appearence last season.

Notre Dame returns home after last weekend’s hard fought battle in an intense, hostile atmosphere with UNO, squeeking out two victories. Tonight’s match up is the last home game of the regular season. Senior night will be an emotional event for our senior players and their families as their careers will soon come to a close.

Outgoing Seniors Include: RW Erik Condra, C Christian Hanson, D Luke Lucyk, G Jordan Pearce, LW Garrett Regan, and Justin White.

Read the rest at Rakes of Mallow.

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Who’s My Favorite Player?

Mr. Derrick Brooks.

Unfortunately, he was cut yesterday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the likes of four other notable veterans, including Cato June, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, and Warrick Dunn. This day will mark the end of an era for the Buccaneers, as the final pieces of the “old school” Bucs (Brooks and Dunn) make their exits from the organization. (We all know that Ronde’s skill has been non-existant for a few seasons now, so his exit was in the past)

What is the team left with? Many see shambles and a humbling very sub .500 season in the immediate future. While others feel that this was a necessary, inevitable decision, and perhaps evidence of gut-wrenching dedication to establishing a new foundation to the team.

I’m with the latter group. I love these veteran players. While injuries surely resulted in the gradual phasing out of Galloway from the offense this past season, he presented a deep threat that had never been a daunting part of the Buccaneer offense in recent memory. (See: Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony = fail.) We can only hope that we continue to continued production from Antonio Bryant to fill this void.

Losing Hilliard is monumental as well. I don’t know if we have a replacement in the fold as of yet. He was, for the years he was here, our best 3rd down receiver. As one post said on the Tampa Tribune website, he was the only one with the “stones” to go over the middle AND actually catch the ball. Yet he too faced a similar phasing out as Galloway.

And let’s not forget how June had to learn the SLB position. While he didn’t emerge as the anticipated defensive force we had hoped, he was still a solid at the position. He’ll be a big signing this off season for another team looking to fill a WLB vacancy.

And then, Brooks and Dunn. Future Hall of Famers. Class acts all around. Now out of a job.

They will be remembered for their abilities on the field. But for many families and children in the bay area, these two men directly affected their lives by education. Dunn is known for his Homes for the Holidays campaign, giving a family in need a much deserved home. Brooks’ Bunch, Derrick’s foundation, goes on special trips each summer, one of which included a trip to Africa. Not to mention that these individuals are men of outstanding character and a genuinely positive influence in the sports world.

Everyone will be missed, and while I do not agree with the way DB55 was treated, this is the direction the Bucs need to take. Teams are consistently getting faster and offenses more creative and able to counter the signature Tampa 2. While defense has been what the team has always hung its hat on, it’s become nothing but a fragile reputation. Heck, I feel that at times we’ve overachieved in recent seasons on defense, given the age and (in)experience. Losing a leader like this is never easy. It will be time for players like Barrett Ruud and other incumbents to take over and grow together, much like how (oh so long ago) the young, newly drafted Brooks, Sapp and the rest of our young defense developed into one of the greatest of all time.

It can happen again. The only difference this time is that we’ve been spoiled by the taste of success, and now it is expected. I guess 20 or so losing season can make anyone desperate to never want to be that bad again. Let’s wait for how Dominik, Morris, and the Glazers approach the offseason and the draft before we write off the season, staff, and administration. We can denounce the treatment of one of our most iconic players. It was a classless, irreverant move, and Derrick Brooks (and even Warrick Dunn) deserves much better.

So to Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn: Thanks for making the lives of others that much brighter, whether it was through on-field excellence or a passionate dedication to the community. You both will be missed.

And of course we can’t have a Derrick Brooks post without showing of the greatest United Way commercial of all time.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

From The Desk Of… “Already?”

Yes, I just cursed audibly already. This one is going to be a tough one to break. At least I didn’t curse about breaking my promise of cursing! That would have been twice as bad. Instead, I punched my left palm with my right fist.

Progress.

But wait. Is cursing only the words they don’t allow in mainstream media? Then I would be ok. The word was ok by FCC standards. 

Just kidding. Chalk it up as a violation. But no more. 😉

Now back to work.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Pre-Lenten Reflection

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Lent is my favorite part of the Catholic calendar. The obvious association is that of giving something up for those 40 days or so. It’s a wonderful tradition and it’s certainly the least we can do as Christians when it comes to what Christ endured. Lent is much deeper than the simple sacrificial action or non-action. It’s about how the Lenten sacrifice enriches your spiritual life and how you use this period of renewal n order to grow closer to God.

The sacrifices of fasting and not eating meat are a traditional component. We Catholics know ALL about traditions. I couldn’t tell you why we don’t eat meat on Fridays or why it’s customary to abstain from something desirable. It’s just tradition, and a harmless one at that. It fits in well.

Most of the religious aspects of modern Catholicism are themselves ancestral relics of action- customs which have survived persecution, fundamental resistance, and time. It’s a tradition I am proud to partake in, despite the conspiracies behind why Catholics started eating meat on Fridays. What does it matter? Perhaps in the past the reasons were tainted with hints of corruption. As we’ve learned in CCD or Catholic School, this part of our religious history is a regrettable part of history.

I just choose to celebrate it as part of our tradition as well. I mean, why not help further the stereotype, right?

This act of sacrifice in the season of Lent goes hand in hand with the ultimate sacrifice which occurs on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Through our own seemingly insignificant sacrifices we symbolically emulate Christ’s path to the cross. (Oh, we LOVE symbols!) We give up something that is very integrated in our lives thus rendering us as lacking, and as time goes on, as wanting. Alas, our sacrifice is transformed into a nice euphemism for Lent’s entire purpose- the recognition of how much we as sinners are in ultimate need of Christ for salvation. He becomes your favorite carbonated beverage, your hours watching TV, or the plethora of other things we give up or pledge to do during Lent.

It should be our goal to recognize the season as such. Yet, an acceptance of the absence and needed presence of God in our lives leads to the realization that perhaps as an individual I haven’t steered the right course. Lent is most importantly about personal renewal.

Enter the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If you don’t go any other time of the year, this is the period of time best to do it in. All souls get tarnished by the wear and tear of free will. You can’t make the right choice all of the time. Reconciliation is a humbling of the human ego through the admission of wrongdoing. What results is a renewal of resolve and spirituality. It’s about the effort.

Let’s look at it this way. Our Supreme Professor has made this test so hard that there is no one gets 100% in this class.  All we can do is go to office hours (multiple times in our lives through Sacrament and through prayer), admit we made wrong choices, and learn from our mistakes, leaving with an empowering resolve to not make the same mistakes. As long as we do our part, we can only hope he takes notice at our efforts and offers a large curve :).

I’ve always wondered why the Feast Of Christ the King, the Sunday before Advent, ushers in the new fiscal year of the liturgical calendar. For me, the season of Lent and Eastern are the essential definition of the Christian experience. Why wouldn’t renewal be synonymous with a new “year?” I digress.

Lenten Goals for 2009

  • No Coke or any similar products
  • Resume regular Mass attendance with ultimate participation in Communion after a good confession prior to Easter
  • No Drinking of Alcohol either
  • Being More Positive and No Cursing
  • Being more expressive and spending more family time
  • The infamous “Lenten Challenge”

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From The Desk Of… “Excuse Me, uh, Ma’am?”

This story comes from Mike Hatke’s early morning experience at a Chicago train station, which he promptly emailed. Good Work.

“Walking between train stations this morning someone in front of me
dropped their sunglasses. I picked them up and starting walking faster
to catch up with them. Longer hair, femine looking coat and bag, it’s
a woman right? I get up next to them and say, ‘excuse me ma’am, you
dropped these.’ this guy turns around and says ‘o thanks’ in a very
deep voice. oops. haha.”

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“Just Enough: Irish Win CCHA Regular Season Crown With Pair of 1-Goal Wins Over UNO” – Rakes of Mallow

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The rafters at the newly announced hockey facility just might be full of banners even before the Irish play a game inside of it. At the very least, the 2008-2009 CCHA Regular Season Championship banner will hang, as Notre Dame swept the weekend series with UNO and second place Miami (OH) lost to and tied Northern Michigan in their weekend series. ND obviously hopes that it isn’t the only banner they earn this season.

The title didn’t come easy. It was a physical, hard-fought weekend sprinkled with some fortuitous bounces and questionable officiating. Even Coach Jackson acknowledged that the Irish were extremely fortunate to have won Friday night’s game, a thrilling 4-3 OT win.

The Omaha Civic Auditorium lived up to the hype. Close to 8,000 packed the building each night, affectionately named “The Barn,” to hopefully watch UNO upset the #2 ranked Irish. There was a sizeable Irish fan presence and the roar after each Irish goal rivaled that of the UNO fans. What they did have was cowbell. Lots and Lots of cowbell.

Read the rest at Rakes of Mallow.

On the Road Again

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I’ve always loved to travel.

It doesn’t matter by what mode of transportation, as it usually leads to a thrilling adventure, a reunion of some sorts with people you love, or vacation. Even when the reasons aren’t so happy and ideal, traveling may lead to familial and friendly support, a temporary escape, or ultimate closure.

Last weekend, it was a trip to Austin, Texas, to see my significant other for Valentine’s Day. It was the first time that I’ve really actually gotten into V-Day, and well, the first time I’ve had the chance to take a girl out for it. As she pointed out, who would have thought it would have been in San Antonio.

I sure didn’t.

It was a romantic weekend. We decided to go down to San Antonio to eat dinner at a nice restaurant on the Riverwalk. It was a picturesque perfection that I can only hope we can top as we continue to be together, despite the persistent chilly breeze that made us cold and a wobbly table. Our first official Valentine’s. Unforgettable.

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Today, it’s another reunion for me. I write from seat 6A on my Southwest flight to Chicago. There I will catch my connection to Omaha, Nebraska. It’s been nine months since I’ve seen my closest friends from Notre Dame. It will be wonderful to see them again and spend the little time that we’ll have together.

I guess it wasn’t until these past few weeks I’ve realized how much I enjoy flying. We know there are certain stresses that come with flying, such as worrying about finding overhead space for bags, getting through security with your belongings and dignity intact, and hoping you make connecting flights. But once you meet these challenges, you’re free. And you’re on a non-stop flight to the future.

Oh the freedom of flight.

For those few hours, you are free of the modern day ball and chain- the cell phone and the internet. Sure, people still know where you are. You’re on a flight! But there is no waiting for the next email or text or phone call. It can’t even be on.

It’s just you, your complimentary 6 ounces of your favorite Coke product, and fellow passengers.

Of course, even now there are business men and women typing away on their computers trying to meet deadlines. But we are free, if only temporarily, from the grasp the world has on us. Those 30,000 feet make all the difference. You can sit and take a breather from life almost, while peering down on it. It’s marvelous isn’t it? The countryside, the cities, the oceans. God’s partnership with mankind produces some wonders.

So anytime that you heapsters are on the road again, remember to enjoy those precious moments of tranquility. It’s only a matter of time until you arrive at the Future, where you’ll activate again your social shackles getting to where you have to go and doing what you have to do.

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