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Student-athletes tell their own stories

Joanna Lagedrost | Monday, January 21, 2013

Looking to establish a personal voice in the social media landscape, Notre Dame athletes have launched a blog and Twitter account called “Through Irish Eyes.”

Jaimie Morrison, a senior women’s lacrosse player, co-founded “Through Irish Eyes” with Marta Stepien, a senior fencer.  Morrison described the blog as an easy outlet for Notre Dame student-athletes to express themselves.

 “Plenty of athletes get interviewed and have other people tell their stories,” Morrison said.  “‘Through Irish Eyes’ lets them put their own spin on [their stories], but also opens the audience to different athletes they may not have read about otherwise.”

Frank Dyer, a junior on the Notre Dame swim team, said the blog allows for athletes’ personal voices to emerge.  

“Many of the ND fans hear from our sports writers through different articles written about us and I think this blog will be the for the top fans who want to hear exclusively what athletes are up to from their point of view,” he said.

Stepien said that the timing was right to launch such social media ventures.  

“When we brainstormed the idea, the BCS [National Championship] game was right around the corner, and we realized there would be no better time to garner attention and followers for our posts than when Notre Dame was already commanding a lot of media attention,” she said.

The blog, launched in early December, currently features a collection of student-athletes posing for pictures during finals week and in Miami for the national championship game.  It also highlights a video of non-fencing athletes bonding during fencing matches and other student athlete digital contributions.

Morrison said there is no limit of what can be posted on the blog.

Kristina Nhim, a junior on the women’s golf team, crafted a post about her experiences travelling with golf clubs. 

“I was really excited about the whole idea,” she said.  “[‘Through Irish Eyes’] isunpolished and pretty simple but it’s definitely open to the public to read.”

Nhim added that she thinks social networking sites make it easy to reach an audience in an informal way. 

“I think blogging [and] tweeting are good ideas because they’re fun, easy and a personal way to say what you want,” she said.

In addition, “Through Irish Eyes” serves as a means for student-athletes to express the uniqueness of being a student-athlete at the University.

“There is so much more expected of [student-athletes] and this blog will hopefully translate what we are going through and what we have to say about our experiences at Notre Dame,” Dyer said.

Stepien said that she hopes to reveal to the public Notre Dame student-athletes’ perspectives on campus life. 

“Notre Dame provides us for once in a lifetime opportunities, given the events on campus and the success of each of the athletic programs, that we thought it would be truly interesting to shine a light on it all in our own way,,” she said

The ultimate goal of “Through Irish Eyes”, Stepien said, is to establish an “authentic emotional connection” with the world.

“We wanted to humanize ourselves, so that a sports audience could see us for more than just players on a field, but as students and friends with personal and funny anecdotes to tell,” Stepien said.

Stepien added that although they do not yet have an editorial board for “Through Irish Eyes,” all student-athletes, hand-in-hand with the Student Welfare Department, have been integral in getting the blog rolling.  Prompts and ideas are generated through Twitter, and products appear on the blog.

“This is not the place for stats breakdowns, scouting reports, or behind the scenes details of last week’s game . It is a place for us to share what goes on at Notre Dame through those who fight for it,” Stepien said.

“Hopefully we start something that is taken up by other schools in the country and we are credited for being the first,” Dyer said.

Those interested can follow “Through Irish Eyes” on Twitter @NDIrishEyes. The blog site can be found at http://ndirisheyes.tumblr.com/.