TERRE HAUTE —
It’s just a little Catholic school in northern Indiana, but it brings a giant following to tonight’s match-up for the Bowl Championship Subdivision trophy.
Spread across the walls of Jim Boland’s basement, the green and gold banners from decades past tell the story of Notre Dame football. From a portrait-sized replica of the 22-cent Knute Rockne postage stamp, to Leprechaun toys and beer steins, the retired high school teacher said he’s followed the Fighting Irish since his days at St. Patrick’s in Terre Haute.
“Ever since the early ’50s when I was in elementary school,” he said Sunday morning of his fan experience.
Tonight’s championship game kicks off at 8 in Florida’s Sun Life Stadium, pitting this year’s undefeated Notre Dame team against the University of Alabama, which is attempting to win its third title in four years. Notre Dame’s storied football legacy dates back to its first national championship in 1924, with strong runs up through its last title in 1988.
But stellar seasons have been scarce the nearly 15 years since, as the Catholic university in South Bend with only 8,000 undergraduates continues its tradition of rigorous academics amid a changing NCAA culture.
But it was academics that drew the Thornton family there, as brothers Nathan and Tyler await a chance to watch their friends play tonight.
Nathan, a 2009 graduate of Terre Haute South Vigo High School, is a Notre Dame senior at with plans to graduate this spring with a degree in IT management. A job with Abercrombie & Fitch awaits him in Columbus, Ohio, and Saturday afternoon he recalled how the small, family-like atmosphere of Notre Dame won him over four years ago.
“It was one of my top choices because of the academics,” he said, explaining that having won a Lilly Scholarship, he had his choice of any school in Indiana, tuition-free.
His brother, Tyler, is an Irish sophomore, majoring in finance and political science. Their father, Don, said his younger son made the choice early.
“I think the youngest one saw us going there for games and such and knew he wanted to go,” he said.
Tyler left for Florida this weekend and will probably watch the game at the Notre Dame Club in Miami, said his mother, Cheryl.
“They had a lottery for tickets,” she said, noting Tyler didn’t win a seat but wanted to go down for the celebration nonetheless.
Nathan said the school’s small size affords students the chance to get to know one another, and that includes the football team. Offensive guard Chris Watt is a roommate of one of his friends, and the 6 feet, 4 inch, 326-pound nose guard Louis Nix is in Nathan’s dorm.
“They’re definitely spread out on campus,” he said, pointing out that at Notre Dame, the football players go to class with everybody else. “You see them around, definitely more so than with a big school.”
As Catholics, the Nathans found the school’s value system to have strong appeal.
Nathan’s also been impressed with the diversity on campus. With students from all over the world, he’s the “resident small town guy” even though the campus is located in South Bend.
Whether the No. 1 Fighting Irish can beat No. 2 Alabama is all a matter of how they play tonight, he said.
“I’m not in the game of making predictions, but I hope they can win,” he said.
Gartland Foundry president Bill Grimes is likewise pulling for his alma mater.
“They’ve come further than anybody thought, so it’s a matter of coming out and executing,” the 1975 Notre Dame graduate said.
Grimes played quarterback and defensive back for Schulte High School before walking onto the Fighting Irish team his freshman year. Although he didn’t continue playing football there, he remembered his time as a student when Notre Dame defeated Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl and secured a national title.
“Obviously they didn’t go into the season ranked and a lot of people drummed them out early,” he said of this year’s team. But the fact remains, they’ve beaten every team faced thus far and have proven themselves worthy contenders. “If they play good, smart football and don’t make any mistakes, I think they’ll come out ahead.”
Gary Ciolli, father of Terre Haute North Vigo softball standout and Notre Dame alum Megan Ciolli, said he too is still rooting for the Irish.
“I’m not going obviously, but I’d love to,” he said of tonight’s game.
After four years of play for the Irish, his daughter now coaches at Northern Illinois University. But supporting Notre Dame has been a lifelong passion for him, from his days in parochial school through now.
“So it’s always been the icon of our home,” the Schulte High School graduate said.
Boland, who followed up eight years at St. Patrick’s with three at St. Meinards Seminary before going to Schulte, said his mother didn’t know much about football, but she loved Notre Dame.
The sports memorabilia spills out of his basement, up the stairs and outside to his garage, where more posters cover walls near blankets and pictures.
A regular at the Notre Dame home games since 1967, he said he gets tickets whenever he can and dispenses them to friends and fellow fans.
“I’ve got two main hobbies, chasing Notre Dame tickets and using them,” he laughed.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After years of waiting, Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans eager for tonight’s championship football game
TERRE HAUTE —
It’s just a little Catholic school in northern Indiana, but it brings a giant following to tonight’s match-up for the Bowl Championship Subdivision trophy.
Indiana State baseball now one win from MVC Championship
Indiana State’s Wednesday morning wish list probably read something like this: a dominant complete game effort from starting pitcher Devin Moore, near-immaculate defense to support him, and a steady diet of clutch situational hitting from lineup spots one to nine.
Terre Haute's Mascari running 10,000 meters for chance to get to Hayward Field
Indiana State freshman and Terre Haute North graduate John Mascari is among the enormous group of Sycamores competing this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary. The top 48 NCAA track and field competitors in each event on this half of the United States are narrowed down to 12 who will compete at the NCAA meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Manaea's shoulder causing him latest pain
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea has battled through so many aches and pains during the 2013 season that it can be hard to discern the serious pain from the pain he pitches through.
ISU's Negele answers call in big way in wake of Manaea injury
When Indiana State starting pitcher Sean Manaea slumped on the mound in obvious pain after he took his warm-up pitches, red flags raised for ISU’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament hopes.
ISU baseball hoping Manaea can get its MVC Tournament moving in right direction
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
But this is the 2013 Sycamores, after all, and after a season in which seemingly little has gone right, it appears its stars will remain crossed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU track sending record 22 to postseason
On the heels of their thrilling double victory at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships both the Indiana State men and women moved up in the national rankings which were released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
ISU's athletic treasure trove
Think of every championship that Indiana State has won in each of its sports, past and present. Think of every tournament — postseason or regular season — which the Sycamores have claimed as their own.
Ort sets ISU RBI record in 16-7 win
Robby Ort celebrated his Indiana State baseball Senior Day on Saturday by becoming the Sycamores’ all-time leader in RBIs as ISU ended its regular season with a 16-7 win over Bradley at Bob Warn Field.
Bradley ends 16-game MVC losing streak against ISU
Momentum was the only thing riding on Indiana State’s baseball game against Bradley on Friday. With a five-game winning streak going, ISU wanted to keep the good vibes going into next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU couldn’t do it.
Behind 16 hits and Manaea's pitching, ISU beats Bradley
Indiana State’s baseball team rode a wild ride of emotion on Thursday.
First came the public announcement that Bob Warn Field would host the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Later, Sean Manaea’s availability to pitch ISU’s series opener against Bradley was in doubt.
Indiana State women add five transfers, including experienced D-I point guard
Indiana State coach Teri Moren believes the addition of five more newcomers to the program — in addition to the five who had already joined the program earlier this calendar year — will provide her coaching staff the athleticism and depth it needs to play a successful, up-tempo brand of basketball next season.
Metro roundup: Woods softball takes seventh in national tournament
The St. Mary-of-the-Woods softball team finished seventh in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association softball tournament on Tuesday at Firestone Stadium.
Metro Roundup: Indiana State’s Shakir Bell on Performance Awards watch list
College Football Performance Awards has announced its watch list for the 2013 CFPA FCS Running Back Award, and Indiana State’s Shakir Bell earned a spot on the list.
ISU baseball team builds on success with 14-2 rout
Indiana State’s baseball victory over Alcorn State on Friday would take on more meaning Saturday if the Sycamores could build momentum and pick up on the good work they did in Friday’s ninth-inning rally.
The Sycamores were aggressive from the opening inning at the plate and starting pitcher Devin Moore gave them eight valuable and effective innings on the mound as ISU defeated Alcorn State 14-2 at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a really good experience for everybody. It felt great to finally come out here and put some things together. It’s also really nice when your offense puts a lot of runs on the board,” Moore said.
Moore’s eight innings of work were as valuable as gold to an ISU team that is short on quality arms due to injury and ineffectiveness. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and one of the two runs he conceded was unearned.
Johnson, Lyke win MVC titles for ISU
Indiana State’s Felisha Johnson and Maurice Lyke were both crowned Missouri Valley Conference champions on Saturday during the MVC Track and Field Championships at Drake University.
ISU earns badly-needed win
Alcorn State’s baseball team might be ranked in the bottom 10 in RPI and Indiana State might have never lost to a Southwestern Athletic Conference team. So it wouldn’t appear that a quality win was in the offing when Alcorn State visited Bob Warn Field on Friday.
Metro roundup: RHIT’s Evans sets Div. III record in high jump
For the third time this season, Rose-Hulman senior Liz Evans topped the NCAA Division III all-time national record in the outdoor high jump Friday night.
ISU’s Mascari and Hope win MVC track & field titles
Indiana State produced two champions during the opening day of action in the Missouri Valley Conference track and field championships Friday at Drake. Freshman John Mascari, a Terre Haute native, won the men’s 10,000-meter race and Nicole Hope won the women’s pole vault for the second time in three seasons.
ISU pole vault tradition continues with help from its author
Pole vault is track and field for the adrenaline junkie, Indiana State senior Nicole Hope proclaimed during a recent practice at Marks Field.
To catapult oneself about 14 feet into the air with a large $500 fiberglass pole on a daily basis is a risky endeavor.
“We have to be fearless. You can’t be afraid at all,” said Hope, who has also catapulted herself into the NCAA’s elite in the event, ranking 15th in the NCAA with her leap of 13-feet, 9 1/4.
Sycamores searching for answers after seventh loss in eight games
These are the bad times for the Indiana State baseball team.
The will is there for the Sycamores to pull out of their worst slump of the season, but the results are not. The suffering continued on Wednesday at Bob Warn Field as Eastern Illinois defeated ISU 5-3.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU men's track picked first in MVC Championships, women second
The Indiana State men’s track team has won the last two Missouri Valley Conference outdoor championships, but the women have not stood on the top podium since 1999.
That may change this year, but the Sycamores will face some stiff competition in their quest for the championships.
North grad Welker helps Whitson earn first NCAA bid as coach
Eastern Kentucky girls golf coach Mike Whitson, an alumnus of his employer, enjoyed his stay in Terre Haute as coach of Indiana State, where he started the women’s golf program.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman wins HCAC all-sports trophy
Rose-Hulman has won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s all-sports trophy for the fifth time in the past six year, the league announced Monday.
Rose tallied 66.5 points for its finishes in 11 men’s sports, just ahead of Franklin with 66. Hanover was third with 53 points.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman tennis falls in HCAC semifinal
Rose-Hulman’s hot streak in men’s tennis came to an end Saturday in the semifinal round of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament at the West Indy Racquet Club.
Manaea fights off bad hip, wet weather to toss four innings
Mother Nature has been the bane of the Indiana State baseball team’s existence all season. Eight games wiped due to weather are a testament to that. So it was no surprise, though no less disappointing, when she didn’t deal Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea the greatest hand on Saturday as he tries to recover from a hip injury.
ISU track enjoys big night at IU's Billy Hayes Invitational
The Indiana State Sycamores either won or finished as the top collegian in 12 events, led by the record-breaking performance of senior Brandon Pounds at the 2013 Billy Hayes Invitational Friday at Indiana University.
Pounds broke his own school record to win the men’s hammer throw.
Lansing looking for more home games for next fall
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is looking for a few good games.
Home games that is.
The Sycamores have filled in most of the blanks in their nonconference schedule, but as ever, ISU coach Greg Lansing would like to visit the friendly confines of Hulman Center a bit more often.
Secret weapon: Kelsey Rosselli finishing Woods career with a bang
At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, reporting game results to the Tribune-Star after a win or a loss is not always a high priority.
So when one of its athletes enjoys an outstanding season, like senior Kelsey Rosselli is doing for the Pomeroys’ softball team in 2013, media publicity doesn’t always follow.
In fact, her efforts almost seem like a government secret.
Rosselli’s name might sound familiar to longtime Terre Haute softball followers because she was a standout for North High School, from where she graduated in 2009.
Since then, she’s helped The Woods finish runner-up in three straight U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national tournaments in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
ISU baseball gets back into rhythm with victory
Baseball is a rhythm game. With contests every day or five times a week in the case of many college programs, you have the chance to build on success or wallow in a slump.
Mother Nature took that rhythm away from Indiana State’s team last week. After a 7-1 loss to Indiana on April 24, ISU was supposed to play a three-game series at Tennessee-Martin, but it was wiped out by rain.
So the rhythm was disturbed, but perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing.
ISU was in a five-game losing streak before its unintended vacation and the Sycamores made a move in the right direction Wednesday with a 7-0 win over DePauw at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a disappointing weekend. We went all the way down to Tennessee and didn’t get to play. We sat around in the hotel room. We came here and it was still raining. It was nice to get out and see some live pitching,” ISU center fielder Landon Curry said.
Metro roundup: ISU hands out spring awards
The Indiana State University athletic community, along with family, friends and fans, paused Tuesday night to honor the spring sports teams at the Terre Haute Savings Bank Spring Sports Banquet.
Most of the ISU teams are still in competition with the baseball team having 13 games left of its regular-season schedule before beginning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament May 21, the softball team with just three games left of the docket this coming weekend against Southern Illinois and the track and field program with just one more meet before beginning its postseason events.
The ISU women’s golf team is the team that has ended at this time, with the group recording a sixth-place finish at the MVC championships one week ago.
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