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Morgan’s Message club advocates for student athletes

Editor’s Note: This story includes mentions of suicide and mental health conditions.

Students at Saint Mary’s are hoping to foster a more open and honest community through one of its new clubs, Morgan’s Message. Founded by the friends and family of Morgan Rodgers, a women’s lacrosse player at Duke University who died by suicide in 2019, the nonprofit organization has spread across various college campuses with the goal of ending the stigma around mental health. 

Erin Dotson, the president of Morgan’s Message and a senior on the Saint Mary’s lacrosse team, said she has spent much of her time trying to grow the club and promoting the importance of engaging in conversations about mental health throughout the campus community.

“After a close friend of mine had passed away from mental health not too long ago, it really pushed me to want to do this,” Dotson said.

Dotson said it is important to let people know that it is “OK not to be OK,” and there are resources out there to help people who are struggling.

Other Saint Mary’s students are also working toward the goal of destigmatizing mental health. Junior Anne Goralczyk serves as a campus captain for The Hidden Opponent, an organization founded by former USC volleyball player Victoria Garrick that provides mental health resources for athletes.

Goralczyk said she is excited about a new campaign Morgan’s Message is about to launch at the College.

“We’re so excited about a campaign where we will choose an athlete from each of the eight teams here at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “We will take a photo of them on their respective fields, then they come up with an impact statement about mental health and we post the photos around campus. It’s an easy way to spread awareness and encourage conversation.”

In addition to the Dotson and Goralczyk’s efforts, several other Saint Mary’s student-athletes have publicly expressed a desire to uplift the campus by informing students of healthy outlets when dealing with mental health struggles. 

One of these students is Izzi Linus, vice president of Morgan’s Message and a Saint Mary’s soccer player.

“I hope to spread awareness around campus and hopefully the tri-campus community,” Linus said. “There have been so many instances in the past year with athletes taking their own lives, and I hope to spread awareness and reach as many people as possible.”

Sophomore Valentina Rubio is the secretary of Morgan’s Message and a member of the lacrosse team. She has also worked to try to make the new club a place where students can feel comfortable expressing their feelings toward peers about their own personal struggles.

“I would like Morgan’s Message to be an option for everyone,” Rubio said. “If you do a sport or don’t do a sport, just to be able to spread more awareness and have it be more student to student rather than student to adult. It’s important so that we can grow in community and confide in one another.”

Contact Moira at mquinn02@saintmarys.edu.

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Viewpoint

LIV: Making golf the 54th sport to sellout

If I asked you what Phil Mickleson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia all have in common, what would you say? Well, some of you might say you have no idea who they are. Those familiar with the game of golf would likely say something along the lines of them being legends in the game of golf or all being champions of the most prestigious tournament in golf, The Masters. Those who pay close attention to the golf world, however, might identify them as three of the most prominent golfers to defect from the established PGA Tour to the new LIV Golf Tour. 

A great deal of you may be wondering why you should care. And that is totally fair. I did not expect to be writing a column about sports, let alone golf. The LIV Golf Tour is important, however, because of who runs it — The Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Fund. The Saudis created the LIV Golf Tour in order to rival the American PGA Tour that has existed without a serious challenger for decades. 

Now, there are serious grievances to be had with the PGA Tour and the way it treats its players. This includes the fact that they do not disclose how much of their profits they keep and that they do not pay a significant number of players in each tournament (essentially those that play the worst). This is part of the argument those players who chose to go LIV have made. Some of the players have even gone as far as suing the PGA Tour for anti-competitive practices when they were suspended for playing on the LIV Tour.

Along with these grievances, many LIV golfers include platitudes about ‘growing’ and ‘transforming’ the game of golf as their last line of defense. Yet, when it comes down to it, we all know why the players went to LIV: money. Dustin Johnson has made $75 million over the course of his 15 year career on the PGA Tour, which is the third greatest amount of money ever made on the PGA tour. It is rumored that he will make $125 million to join LIV golf. Phil Mickleson has made the second greatest amount of money ever on the PGA Tour, $95 million, and his contract with LIV is said to be worth $200 million. The PGA’s highest ever earner, Tiger Woods, has made $125 million on the Tour. LIV is rumored to have offered Woods $800 million. Yes, $800 million. Unlike the other two, Woods declined. 

So, this is where the controversy begins. First, some critics, including fellow PGA Tour golfers like Rory McIlroy, do not like the prospect of an exorbitant amount of money being poured in to change the direction of the game. More importantly, I would argue, many people take issue with the idea that these golfers would agree to play on a tour sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government. The Saudi government is known for numerous human rights violations including the recent killing of a US based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

I do not have a strong opinion on the former, but I can tell you that every inch of me agrees with the latter of these criticisms. The Saudi government does many bad things, and these golfers are allowing themselves to be bought off so that the Saudi government can sportswash its image and direct the attention away from these problems. Yet, there are a couple of things that give me pause before using every bad word possible to describe these golfers. 

First, these golfers are being offered life-changing, and sometimes generational, wealth. I am not just talking about Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickleson, who with their PGA Tour earnings and sponsorship deals have made plenty of money in their careers, but also the lesser known players. For example, James Piot, the 2021 US Amateur Champion, who is only 23 years old, was offered $1 million. Another key point: the cumulative prize money for only eight tournaments is $225 million. A player can make up $4 million in prize money based on their performance at each individual tournament, and each player is guaranteed to make at least $120,000. Yes, the player that gets last will make six-figures for three days of work.

Second, Saudi money is already all over the sporting world, and even other golf tournaments. Saudi Aramco is one of the biggest sponsors of the Women’s European Golf Tour. It is also extremely prominent in the sport of Formula One. Now, I am not someone in a position to decide whether or not this is a good strategy on the part of those organizations, but it does cause me to wonder what makes LIV golf all that different. It is important to note some nuances including that there isn’t a strong alternative for Formula 1 drivers and these other leagues are not exclusively bankrolled by the Saudis. Yet, these nuances do not change the fact that a significant source of revenue for many existing sports leagues is the Saudi Government or one of its entities. This is not to mention that the 2022 Men’s World Cup is being held in Qatar and the Olympics were held in China earlier this year. FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, was openly bribed to put the tournament in Qatar, another country known for its human rights violations particularly against immigrant workers. And, I probably don’t need to mention it, but China does some bad stuff too, especially to its Muslim Uyghur population. Yet, no one seems to be calling on participants to boycott these competitions. So, why should these golfers be held to a higher standard?

My point is not that these golfers should be absolved of their culpability in aiding Saudi sportswashing. I find it pretty disingenuous that Phil Mickleson called the Saudis “scary motherf******,” but is more than happy to take their $200 million and continue on his way. My point is, rather, that the criticism of LIV golfers seems like a double standard. 

Beyond the leagues themselves, by and large we expect athletes to do what is in their best financial interest. Alexander Isak, one of the most talented young soccer players in the world, just signed a contract with Newcastle United, the English Premier League club owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. No one batted an eye. Kylian Mbappe, a soccer player widely considered as one of the best two or three in the world, just signed the most lucrative contract the soccer world has ever seen, to play for Paris Saint Germain, the French club owned by a subsidiary of the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund. And, while some people criticized the decision of Mbappe to stay at PSG, it was largely due to his flirting with Real Madrid before choosing to stay rather than him taking Qatari money. Why is that? Maybe because it’s a little less obvious, maybe because people don’t want to think about it: I’m not sure. All I know is that if we are to draw a line against human rights violations through sports, then we should expect that line to be drawn in all competitions, not just LIV golf. 

To make my point clear — criticize LIV golf all you want, just make sure you don’t turn a blind eye to all the other dirty money pouring into sports because it’s a little harder to see.

Patrick Condon is a Junior in Siegfried Hall. He is currently serving as the Vice President of BridgeND.

BridgeND is a multi-partisan political club committed to bridging the partisan divide through respectful and productive discourse. It meets on Tuesdays at 5pm in Duncan Student Center W246 to learn about and discuss current political issues, and can be reached at bridgend@nd.edu or on Twitter @bridge_ND.

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News

International students react to football culture, team’s defeat

First-year Gabrielle Benitez enjoys her first home game in the student section in Notre Dame Stadium / Courtesy of Gabrielle Benitez.

First-year graduate student Henry Kamugisha, originally from Uganda, was walking home after studying at the library late Friday night and was surprised to be intercepted by the Notre Dame band performing pre-football game festivities.

“I thought I had seen enough. More is attached to this football?” he said. “Then Saturday morning I woke up, getting out of my house, the whole environment had changed and I saw people everywhere.”

Kamugisha said he had never watched football before the game against Ohio State and was not immediately impressed.

“I didn’t understand anything because I was like, okay, is this relevant? It’s not relevant,” he explained.

While American students at Notre Dame often arrive on campus prepared for the intense culture of supporting the football team, international students like Kamugisha often have had no exposure to the atmosphere of college football in America.

Junior Yeowon Cho, originally from South Korea and an exchange student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, found herself confused about football’s rules.

“I’m actually going to this session called ‘Football 101’ [on Thursday night],” Cho said. 

The session, sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) team, invites “international students and friends” to learn about the essentials of American football and Notre Dame traditions, according to the ISSA website.

Testing expectations

First-year Ph.D. student Salvatore Riolo said he understood the rules of football before leaving Italy to study at Notre Dame due to a personal interest in the American way of life.

“I’m pretty obsessed with American culture, so even when I was in Italy, I used to watch the Super Bowl every year. So that’s why I know the rules to this kind of thing, and I was looking forward to the games,” Riolo explained.

Despite understanding football’s influence on American culture, Riolo said he was still surprised to see the size of the crowds on campus for the game against Marshall.

“I didn’t expect the amount of tourists around the campus,” he said. “People from outside and all the tailgates around, which is something very American.”

Sophomore Pedro Bolsonaro said he also knew the rules of football because he was a fan of the NFL while living in Brazil before coming to Notre Dame last year. Despite this, he said he hadn’t started following college football. 

“Last year I thought the NFL was more exciting for the better players, but throughout the year, I built that connection with the university and that kind of translated to how I see football now,” Bolsonaro said.

Cho enjoyed the home game against Marshall, despite its disappointing result.

“It was really energetic, I liked it,” Cho said. “But I had heard from my friend that they were like 99% sure that they were going to win against Marshall. I wasn’t that angry, but then it was sad to see people actually being so sad.”

Riolo said he was greatly disappointed in Notre Dame who, despite being ranked eighth in the AP college football rankings, lost to unranked Marshall.

“I thought I was going to see a very good performance. I didn’t know much about college football but I knew that Notre Dame has a very long and victorious history,” Riolo said. “I was kind of disappointed because the game wasn’t that good. The interceptions – that wasn’t what I was expecting.”

Kamugisha, having just begun learning about the sport, said he was sad to watch his new team’s defeat. “We haven’t recovered from it. I know we shall get over that, but yeah, it wasn’t good,” he said.

First-year Gabrielle Benitez, an international student originally from the Philippines who also had never watched football before coming to Notre Dame, said she felt similar.

“I don’t know why, but coming into this school, I had the notion that we’re like, undefeated and stuff,” she said. “But clearly, that wasn’t the case.”

Despite this, Kamugisha and Benitez spoke highly of the experience and sense of inclusion as new Notre Dame football fans.

“It was nice to be a part of that community that treasures the football team so much,” Benitez said.

Kamugisha said he felt supported by fellow Notre Dame fans as he watched his new favorite team and took part in gameday traditions.

“I think everyone here is supportive,” Kamugisha said. “They make you actually get taken up to love this game and to feel like, ‘yes, I belong here.’”

Contact Liam at lprice3@nd.edu

Categories
Sports

Irish look to start strong in conference play

Notre Dame men’s soccer will begin conference play this weekend with a top-25 matchup against No. 24 Syracuse this Saturday. The No. 22 Irish will enter the contest at 1-1-1 following a closely contested 1-1 draw against DePaul at Alumni Stadium this week.

The Orange have got off to a blistering start with 3 wins in their first four contests and outscoring opponents 9-1 in those four games. Notre Dame’s defense will have its hands full with sophomore forward Nathan Opoku and senior forward Levonte Johnson, who was on the 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. The Hermann Trophy is given to the top men’s and women’s college soccer player each year. In particular, Opoku has had a blistering start to the season, leading the team with two goals and two assists in his first four games.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame has underperformed to start this season. Following their College Cup appearance last year, they’re winless in their first two home games, both against unranked, non-conference opposition. Their only win came away from home, where they nearly squandered a 3-0 lead against Michigan State but held on to win 3-2.

On Tuesday night, they needed a late equalizer at home against DePaul to avoid another home loss. Head coach Chad Riley spoke on how they can take the resilience they showed on Tuesday night into their matchup with Syracuse.

“I think the biggest thing tonight was the mentality,” said Riley. “The tide was against us, but the guys kept fighting back and eventually got the tying goal and had chances to win it. So, we’re taking positives from the mentality-side of that.”

This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2020 when Notre Dame beat Syracuse 1-0 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish lead the all-time series 15-3-2.

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News

‘Objects in the Rearview Mirror’: The story behind the first women at the University

When Deborah Dell, known to her loved ones as Debi, arrived at the University of Notre Dame in 1972 with the first cohort of women, she entered with a sharp mind and a lot of determination. 

Now, almost exactly 50 years later, Dell is publishing a book, “Objects in the Rearview Mirror: A Social History of Coeducation under the Dome.” The story took shape over the span of 20 years and with the help of more than 150 contributors who were impacted by the decision to implement coeducation. 

The first years – inspiration and roadblocks

Sitting at the desk of her Morris Inn hotel room, Dell looked at a blank page. 

“Was I the right person to be doing this?” she wondered. 

Dell lived in Breen-Phillips Hall, Walsh Hall and Lyons Hall during her time on campus. She admitted that her circle of friends was small and stuck to themselves most of the time. 

“Books like this should be written by somebody who was important,” she explained her hesitation. 

She was in the midst of a lull in motivation. Dell said she came back to Notre Dame to get inspired. 

“I’m in the hotel room, and I’ve just been to the library to get some stuff out of the archives and I’m struggling,” she said. “It’s like I hear Father Hesburgh, saying ‘Debi, put your faith in the Holy Spirit and His mother, and stop thinking so hard and just trust.’”

Dell said she started brainstorming and researching for this book in 2000 and wrote a couple drafts with a few of her friends contributing in 2001, 2006 and 2011. Her trip to the Morris Inn was during the second draft in 2006. 

“[This book] was a long time coming. That’s an understatement,” she quipped. “I think the only book that took longer was the Bible.”

Debi and Darlene — missed connections and missing pieces

Darlene Connelly, class of 1977, was Dell’s right-hand woman during the second half of the project. She was also Dell’s neighbor on the first floor of Breen-Phillips Hall in 1977 — unbeknownst to either of them until a classmate introduced them a few years ago. 

“Darlene — we lived in the same hall, and I didn’t know her!” Dell said. “It was just the perfect timing and the perfect marriage as far as her approach to things and my approach. We just complemented each other so well.”

Connelly said she was introduced to Dell because she was also thinking of writing a book about her experiences. Connelly’s inspiration came in the form of a mentor, Fr. Tom Tallarida. 

Connelly explained that she had a long friendship with Tallarida throughout her time as an undergraduate and that she maintained contact with him as an adult. 

“We stayed in touch over the years. One year, I think it was 1992, he sent me a letter. He pleaded with me to write the real story about coeducation in those early years at Notre Dame,” she said. 

Connelly said she forgot about that plea until one Christmas when she decided to pay Tallarida a visit. A few days before her plans, Connelly said she got a letter from Tallarida’s niece that he had passed away. 

“I carried Catholic guilt,” she said. “I never got to it. I never got around to it, and I am so sorry, so sorry that I don’t know what the story was that he wanted to tell.”

Dell said Connelly not only brought her expertise to the project, but also the contributions of the women of the class of 1977. 

As Dell hosted mixers for her classmates in South Bend before home football games, word about the project got out, and men started chiming in. The men of the classes of 1976 and 1977 were soon added to the list of the writing process contributors.

Around that time, Dell said she started gathering information about the second generation of women at the University — what had changed and what had not. This was done with the help of Emily Weisbacker. 

Dell also mentioned she believed it was important to include what was going on at Notre Dame’s peer institutions and in the nation at the same time. 

“It was very important to me to also make sure that it wasn’t just the Notre Dame story. We looked at Yale and Princeton, and we looked at what was happening in the culture of the United States during the 70s,” she said. 

Dell said she finally felt ready to write the book once she had collected the experiences of the women and men of the first five years of coeducation, the second generation of women at the University and the historical context for the story.

“So now we had the women who went through it, the men who went through it and then the second generation that was benefiting. [They] were able to tell me about the things that hadn’t changed in 30 or 40 years,” she explained. “[The book] really became so much bigger than the original concept because of the delay that took place.”

Those who went without mention — early women’s athletics 

When the girls first arrived on campus, nothing was set up for them, Dell explained. Other than two hastily renovated dorms, the first few classes of women at Notre Dame had to fashion everything themselves. This included clubs, policy groups, information sharing networks and sports. 

Ron Skrabacz, class of 1976, oversaw the research and writing of the chapters on early women’s athletics. 

Skrabacz, who was only participated in interhall sports during his time on campus, was recruited to write the section because of his work as a sports writer. He wrote for the Daily Herald — a newspaper covering the Chicago suburbs — as a sports columnist for 20 years. 

Skrabacz got involved with the project when he was at Dell’s South Bend house on one Friday night before a football game. 

“Debi is a very brilliant woman, but you can put in a thimble what she knew about sports,” he joked. “She knew it was critical that sports be covered.”

Skrabacz explained that he wrote about the general atmosphere of sports during his time at the University and specifically what the women went through to start their varsity sports. 

Luckily, Skrabacz said his work would not have been possible without the research of Anne Dilenschneider and Jane Lammers. 

The two women were at a 30-year reunion of coeducation when they were shown a video about women’s athletics. Skrabacz explained that Dilenschneider and Lammers were upset that the video did not show the early years or how the women made the programs that today yield national championships.

Lammers and Dilenschneider then started researching. They made posters and sought out connections. The women complied “a boatload” of material, which they turned over to Skrabacz.

“All I did was the easy part. I took all their information, summarized it and turned it into a story,” he said. 

Other than their inclusion in the book, over 250 women who participated in the early building stages of each varsity sport will be memorialized with honorary monograms during a home football game the weekend of Oct. 21 to 23. 

Looking back and looking forward

“Objects” came out Sept. 1 and is now available for order at Barnes & Noble. There are two versions: a paperback and a special edition hardcover.

“We’re limiting the hardcover edition to 365 copies to commemorate and honor the 365 first female undergraduates,” Dell said. “The first 365 hardcover books will have a special cover that commemorates that number.”

The Hammes Bookstore is hosting two book signing events for the new release Friday, Sept. 9 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 14 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

A labor of love of over 20 years, Dell said she hopes the book is a tribute to the strength of the Notre Dame family through good times and bad. 

“It was a time when men and women came together and there were struggles, but we found each other. We had the ability to get through some pretty weird tough times, and that’s the value of the Notre Dame family,” she said. “[The book is] a balanced picture: the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Bella Laufenberg

Contact Bella at ilaufenb@nd.edu