One of the most hotly contested debates surrounding the 2013 Notre Dame football team leapt once more to the forefront of conversation Monday as team leaders and representatives from student government met to finalize the players’ decision to sing the Alma Mater after every home game, regardless of outcome.“The fact that this decision was not made by football players alone or by the students alone is a testament to how unified we can be as a student body,” Irish sophomore receiver Corey Robinson said. “The Alma Mater is as an avenue where we can stand together as a unified body and celebrate our common bond: love for Notre Dame.”Observer File Photo Robinson and Irish senior cornerback Matthias Farley represented the Unity Council, a group of football players elected from all class years that acts as liaison between the team and its coaching staff, Robinson said. They met with student body president Lauren Vidal, vice president Matthew Devine and Campus Ministry representative Grace Carroll, all seniors.Robinson, who also represents athletics in student government, said the Unity Council voted unanimously to sing the Alma Mater after every game, a decision that was “nearly unanimously” supported by the team as a whole and reflected the team’s desire to continue a relationship of mutual respect with fans in the student section and beyond.“We were really thinking of the entirety of Notre Dame nation when we made the decision,” Robinson said. “We chose to sing because we appreciate that it’s bigger than just us football players, even us students.“The bottom line is the Notre Dame community is a family,” he said. “Regardless of whether we are celebrating a win or grieving a loss, the most important thing is that we stay together. I can think of no better way to demonstrate this unconditional bond then singing the Alma Mater together after every home game.”The Unity Council made its decision independent of Irish coach Brian Kelly and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick, Robinson said. He said Kelly, Swarbrick and the coaching staff “encouraged” him to collaborate with student government in a “joint student effort” to address the issue.“Coach Kelly, his staff and Jack Swarbrick empowered us to make the decision as players,” Robinson said. “They were in communication with us throughout the decision making process and supported our decision as a team.”Farley said the team’s ability to freely determine this season’s Alma Mater policy demonstrated the commitment of players, coaches and administrators to honor the tradition as a way of connecting student-athletes to their peers.“I … think it’s incredible that Coach Kelly and Jack Swarbrick allowed us to make the decision for ourselves,” Farley said. “In my opinion, it makes the decision to continue singing the Alma Mater much more genuine and real coming from the team, especially when there could have been a lot of division amongst us.”Vidal, Devine and Carroll presented Robinson and Farley with a booklet containing student opinions on the Alma Mater to keep the players informed of their peers’ perspectives, Vidal said.“The books contain about 100 quotes from the students — each quote represents that student’s interpretation of the alma mater and what it means to them and our University,” she said.The statements in the booklet mirrored the enthusiasm for the tradition that Robinson and Farley expressed, often lauding the Alma Mater as a symbolic reminder of the values and community within the University as a whole.“Notre Dame values family, faith and community,” senior Shannon Hagedorn said in the booklet. “The players on the team are part of the family and the score at the end of a game played on a Saturday in the fall doesn’t change that fact.“… The Alma Mater is a symbol of our connection, our spirit and our strength in the light and in the dark. Allow the players to sing and sway with their brothers at the end of the day. We belong together.”Senior Kristen Parkinson, president of the Leprechaun Legion, likened the Alma Mater to “a celebration of the Notre Dame family.”“The Legion welcomes the return of this tradition, and we look forward to standing as a united student body, on- and off-the-field, on Saturday,” she said in an email.Controversy surrounding the singing of the Alma Mater first arose after several players left the field of Notre Dame Stadium following the team’s loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 28 without stopping at the student section to sing. The action sparked intense debate among students, alumni and fans, many of whom saw the former policy as equating community with winning alone.“To my understanding, the official policy last season was to not sing the Alma Mater after home losses,” Robinson said. “It was an issue that may have even been decided much earlier than last year, but since we hadn’t lost at home in two years, the policy was not well-known or practiced.”In a press conference Tuesday, Kelly said he raised the issue with the Unity Council and invited its members to revisit the policy.“I addressed it last year with the Unity Council,” he said. “We decided as a team that’s not what we wanted to do. This year we brought it back up to the Unity Council, and they voted that’s something that they wanted to do, so I’m all for what my team wants to do, and we will make that work.”Robinson said some players had expressed concern regarding previous incidents of students booing the team and throwing objects on the field, such as frozen marshmallows during the Nov. 23 game against BYU.“We understand that this is a intense game, but we hope to be treated with respect when we sing the Alma Mater with the student body and fans,” he said.Farley said the Unity Council primarily sought to promote “the respect of both the team for the fans and the fans for the team.”“I would hope that the student body will understand, just as we have, that the singing of the Alma Mater is bigger than all of us and really bonds us together,” he said. “I know that I can speak on the behalf of the team, and there won’t be any behavior issues on our part.”Tags: Alma mater, Brian Kelly, Corey Robinson, football, Jack Swarbrick, Lauren Vidal, Matthew Devine, Matthias Farley
After picking up a pair of wins on the road to finish off the regular season, the Women of Troy earned the No. 5 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle and will open up against 12th-seeded Arizona today.Secret weapon · Junior guard Ariya Crook enters the game against Arizona averaging 15.8 points per game for the Women of Troy. Crook did not play in USC’s game against the Wildcats earlier this season. – Ricardo Galvez | Daily TrojanThe winner of today’s first-round game will move on to play against fourth-seeded Arizona State in the quarterfinals on Friday.Should USC continue its road to the conference championship with a win against the Sun Devils, the team will be forced to take on the Pac-12’s best regular season team in No. 4 Stanford — assuming the Cardinal defeat the winner of Colorado and UCLA’s first-round matchup.That semifinal game would take place on Saturday, with the championship game following on Sunday night.A lot is on the line for the Women of Troy, as they will likely be playing for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Their performance in the Pac-12 Tournament will gauge whether or not they will earn a shot to return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2006.“I think it is definitely very possible to win the Pac-12 Tournament,” said senior forward Cassie Harberts, who was just named to the All-Pac-12 Team. “We took Stanford within five points [before] so we have really high expectations.”The Women of Troy (18-12, 11-7 Pac-12) ended the regular season on a high note with two big road wins at Utah and Colorado and are looking to take that momentum into the Pac-12 tournament.They will first be pairing with the worst team during the regular season in Arizona (5-24, 1-17), who only won one game in conference play.In the two teams’ last meeting, USC jumped out to a huge lead, going up 42-23 early in the second half, before they had to withstand a late Wildcat rally. Led by the game-high 16 points of junior forward Alexyz Vaioletama, the Women of Troy were able to fend off the Wildcats to prevail on the road, 54-45.USC’s size down low fares well in this matchup with Harberts and Vaioletama, as they out-rebounded the Wildcats 44-33 in their last meeting.With a win, USC would advance to take on ASU, who bested the Women of Troy 94-86 in overtime earlier this season. In that meeting, both teams shot the ball exceptionally well, converting more than 50 percent of their attempts.Before looking ahead to the Sun Devils, however, USC needs to take care of business against Arizona.“We know we need to stay focused and we need to stay together, especially when things don’t go our way,” Harberts said.It was a relatively successful regular season for the Women of Troy, who improved their overall win total by eight wins under the direction of first-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Their 18 wins include 10 road victories, one coming against ranked California to go along with a season sweep of crosstown rival UCLA.The Women of Troy also went through a stretch during which they seemed unbeatable, winning nine out of 10 games, with the lone loss being the aforementioned overtime loss to ASU.“It’s all really about defense,” said junior guard Kiki Alofaituli, who averages 4.1 points per game.Cooper-Dyke’s constant harping on defense throughout the season produced results, as two players — Vaiolatema and sophomore guard Brianna Barrett — earned All-Pac-12 Defensive Team Honorable Mentions. Junior guard Ariya Crook also made All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and guard Courtney Jaco was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention squad.It has been an impressive inaugural campaign at USC for Cooper-Dyke, but the culmination of all of the team’s preparation and hard work will be tested in a tournament that is vital to USC’s drive toward March Madness.Tip-off for USC vs. Arizona is set for 2:30 p.m. today and a win would land the Women of Troy in the same time slot against ASU on Friday.