Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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4 NOV. 27, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED M y buddies have always thought that me having a chance each week to talk to and be around the Notre Dame football players was a pretty cool way to make a living, and they're right. I'm truly blessed to hear and share the stories of these fabulous student- athletes who represent the most famous college football program in the world. But while reflecting this week during the Thanksgiving holiday and recount- ing all of the people I've met and places I've been on the Notre Dame beat, I re- alized that my cool career opportunities aren't exclusive to Irish football. As part of my Olympic sports cover- age for Blue & Gold Illustrated, I've also met some of the most remarkable and inspiring young men and women in the nation who aren't named Brady Quinn, Ian Book or Kyren Williams. Two-time Irish women's soccer cap- tain Sammi Fisher is finishing up her master's degree in non-profit admin- istration and plans to return home to Los Angeles after a professional soccer career to pitch in and help ease the city's homeless crisis. Notre Dame golfer Lauren Beaudreau is an Academic All-American who plans on becoming a television golf analyst when her LPGA career is over. Yared Nuguse — an Irish cross coun- try star, national champion distance runner and an All-ACC academic per- former — graduated in the spring but put his dentistry pursuits on hold so he could return to Notre Dame as a gradu- ate student and compete for one more year. Nuguse parlayed that decision into a second straight outdoor ACC champi- onship in the 1,500 meters and a spot last summer on the U.S. Olympic Tokyo team. These three are a minute sample of the remarkable, unique and dedicated student-athletes I've been fortunate enough to meet and share stories about. While many athletes in the money sports such as football and basketball are often anxious to leave campus, Nu- guse is one of many Irish Olympic sport athletes who were anxious to return for one more year of school and sports after the NCAA provided extra eligibility be- cause of the pandemic. "My time at Notre Dame has meant the world to me," Nuguse explained in retrospect. "And being isolated because of COVID made me realize how much more it truly meant. I wanted to come back, and leave on a high note, because I knew this time was going to come and I'm not going to have this anymore. I'm going to really miss my team, and every friendship I have made here." Charley Niego — a Notre Dame wom- en's volleyball star who will graduate in May as a four-time All-ACC honoree, and as one of the most accomplished players in Irish history — explained that she wants her time and legacy here to be measured by her personal growth off the court more than her thousands of kills and digs on it. "The most important thing I want to be remembered for after my time at Notre Dame is just being a good per- son and a good teammate to every- one," Niego explained. "After that, I also want to be remembered as a player who helped change the culture at Notre Dame and helped make Notre Dame volleyball what it is today and in the future." Irish junior golfer Palmer Jackson — a high school National Honor Society member and an All-ACC Academic Team honoree — is majoring in busi- ness analytics, knowing that when his professional pursuits end as a player, he'll be ready for life beyond birdies. "I'm trying to become as well- rounded as I can while I'm here and take advantage of every opportunity Notre Dame provides to me," he said. "I real- ize and appreciate that my experiences in golf here now will open more career doors for me later." The unexpected passing in April of Lou Somogyi — our esteemed Blue & Gold Illustrated editor, a colleague, a mentor and a dear friend — provided me a new perspective to life and work when he left us. As part of his routine each week, Lou would step away from his Irish football duties and bring the staff up to speed on all of the other important games, meets and matches happening around campus that weren't going to get the attention they deserved. Lou freely admitted and always in- sisted that just because we don't have the space in the magazine to adequately celebrate these often anonymous and always unheralded student-athletes, the special young men and women competing in these secondary sports are much more than back-page news, they're actually the fabric of Notre Dame. ✦ Graduate student Yared Nuguse, a U.S. Olympian and the NCAA record holder in the 1,500 meters, is one of many Irish athletes thankful for the opportunity to return to Notre Dame for another year of camaraderie and competition after the isolation of a pandemic year. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOTRE DAME Irish Olympic Sport Athletes Making An Impact UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at

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