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Football: Team helped by Tues. Mass in James’ honor

Douglas Farmer | Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In many ways, the rain throughout Wednesday’s practice summed up the mood around the football complex. After the practice, Irish coach Brian Kelly said practice and classes were helping the Irish cope with the tragic death of incoming offensive lineman Matt James Friday.

“There’s grieving still going on, but it doesn’t have to take hold of the team for the whole day,” Kelly said. “You have to focus on your classroom. You’re going to come out here for two hours and you’re going to be intensely committed to being the best player, and then you’re going to carry that with you in your downtime.”

Kelly said the team held a private Mass Tuesday night in honor of James.

“I think it was good closure for some of our players,” he said. “I think everybody asked the question why, and the Mass was really to kind of try to answer some of those questions.”

The football program and Notre Dame are doing as much as they can for the James family.

“We’re going to fly out as a staff Friday to the memorial. I think it’s important to be able to see the family face-to-face,” Kelly said. “Obviously Matt did not play here, but he’ll always be part of the Notre Dame family and we want to make sure that message is clear.”

Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph will also attend the funeral, according to Kelly.

The news of the tragedy spread quickly to South Bend Friday.

“Immediately … somebody close to [James] notified me,” Kelly said. “My first instinct was how we could help the family. We were able to arrange transportation for the family that night.”

Kelly also said the University and the football program are in discussions about a campus-wide tribute in honor of James, but nothing has been finalized yet.