Inside the Game with Notre Dame Sports Books

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Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

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It’s time, says Mike Coffey ‘91, for Notre Dame basketball fans to get over their inferiority complex.

A software engineer for a South Bend firm, Coffey also serves as men’s basketball editor of NDNation.com. When Torin Francis gave his commitment in 2001 to play basketball at Notre Dame, a writer on the NDNation message board expressed surprise. "One person said, ‘Boy, this kind of thing never happens in Notre Dame basketball.’

“I wanted to slam my head down,” says Coffey. “Current fans don’t know about the team’s successes.”

So he decided to educate the fan base. Thus began the arduous process of interviewing more than 120 current and former ND basketball players and coaches. The result is Echoes on the Hardwood: 100 Seasons of Notre Dame Men’s Basketball (Taylor Trade Publishing).

Those who share their memories range from Ray Meyer ‘38 to Matt Carroll ’03, and head coaches John MacLeod, Matt Doherty and Mike Brey. One name missing in that group is Digger Phelps, coach of the team from 1971 to ’91. The reason was simple: Digger was working his own book. Coffey’s book and Digger Phelps’s Tales from the Notre Dame Hardwood, by Phelps and Tim Bourret ‘77, ’78MCA (Sports Publishing), both were released this fall.

If reading Coffey’s book is like eavesdropping on a bunch of jocks reminiscing, reading the coach’s book is like sharing a beer with a voluble old pal. Whether divulging the practical jokes he both played and endured, detailing the excitement of wins over number-one-ranked teams or naming his all-time Notre Dame teams, Phelps keeps up a lively patter.

Other newly released Notre Dame sports books include:

Notre Dame Baseball Greats: From Anson to Yaz, Cappy Gagnon ’66 (Arcadia). A history of ND baseball, with highlights of players who went on to make a difference in the major leagues.

Notre Dame Golden Moments: 20 Memorable Events That Shaped Notre Dame Football, John Walters ’88 (Rutledge Hill Press). Behind-the-scenes stories add depth to this look at the games fans still remember with awe. An accompanying DVD brings it all to life.

Natural Enemies: Major College Football’s Oldest, Fiercest Rivalry—Michigan vs. Notre Dame, John Kryk (Taylor Trade). These fierce competitors are known for their on-field battles, but their early 20th century off-field feuds star in this book’s updated version.

I Play for Notre Dame, Ted Mandell ’86. A children’s board book that features a toddler who tries several sports, plays in the band and cheers. With photography by Matt Cashore ‘94, illustrations by Jeff Spoonhower ’99 and appearances by former Irish athletes. Available through the Notre Dame Catalog Center by calling 800-647-4641 and asking for item number A0417H.

Win One for the Gipper: America’s Football Hero, Kathy-Jo Wargin (Gale Group). A short biography of the famed ND player, designed for readers ages 9 to 12.

Gipp at Notre Dame: The Untold Story, Emil Klosinski (PublishAmerica). The author, who attended ND in the early 1940s, seeks the truth behind the myths.

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