G.I.F.T. 2012

GIFT new logo

The 12 teams heading to Ireland for GIFT 2012 go ‘Under the Spotlight’

#8: Hamilton High School from Arizona heading for Parnell Park

The focus on American high school teams taking part in the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT) 2012 showcase of American football this week shines its spotlight on perennial powerhouse Hamilton High School from Chandler, Arizona, playing at Parnell Park on Dublin’s northside.

Thousands of followers of the 12 participating GIFT schools have made summer travel plans to be at the games in Dublin on Friday, August 31. But to help the neutral fan attending games at Donnybrook Stadium and Parnell Park in Dublin and Pairc Tailteann in Navan looking for a reason to cheer one of the 12 teams visiting Ireland, Global Football will point the spotlight on a different team every week during the build up to GIFT 2012.

GIFT 2012 Teams Under the Spotlight – Part Seven of 12

Team: Hamilton High School Huskies

Hometown: Chandler, Arizona

Head Coach: Steve Belles

2011 record: 13-1, State Championship runners up

Colours: As the designated away team, will wear white jerseys

Website: http://hamiltonhuskiesfootball.com/

Opponent: Notre Dame High School from Sherman Oaks, California, at 7:30pm, Friday, August 31

Venue: Parnell Park, Dublin northside

Tickets: www.Tickets.ie/GIFT2012 €15.

Hamilton High School, led by head coach Steve Belles, is one of the top football programs in Arizona and won three consecutive titles from 2008 to 2010. Last season the Huskies won 13 games before losing in the State Championship game. The Huskies claimed the Fiesta Region Championship in ten of the past 11 years and nine straight since 2002. The school’s record since 1998 is an impressive won 171 – lost 15 during a 14-year span.

Coach Belles has a special link to the Emerald Isle Classic weekend in Dublin having played for the 1988 Notre Dame national championship team under legendary head coach Lou Holtz.

“We are excited to take our team overseas to take on a challenging opponent and look forward to showing the people of Ireland what top-quality high school football is all about,” said coach Belles, whose team will have already kicked off their 2012 season, away to Mountain Pointe on August 24, a week before they arrive in Dublin.

“The visit will be about more than just the game we play under Friday night lights. It will be a wonderful cultural experience for our players, coaches, staff and family who travel.”

The Hamilton football program has enjoyed some national attention through its players including Christian Westerman, Gerell Robinson, Kerry Taylor and current Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Belles has been the head coach at Hamilton High School since 2006. During his five seasons with the Huskies he has lead them to four state championships (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010). The Huskies were also region champions all five seasons. Following the championship in 2006, Steve was elected as the Arizona 5A Coach of the Year and after the 2010 season was voted the 24-7football.com Coach of the Year. Prior to Hamilton, Coach Belles was the head coach at Mountain Ridge High School from 2000-2005 and appeared in one state final game vs. Hamilton. He was also the head coach at Desert Mountain High School from 1995-2000 and guided the 1997 team to a region championship. Coach Belles was also a part of two other state championship teams as a coach for St. Mary’s High School in 1991 and 1995.

Coach Belles played at variety of positions (QB, RB and WR) at the University of Notre Dame under legendary coach Lou Holtz. He also was a member of Notre Dame’s last National Championship team in 1988. Coach Belles played professionally in Europe for the Revenna Chiefs in 1991 and later moved on to the Arena Football Leagues’ Arizona Rattlers in 1992. The following season he became the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Rattlers for one season before heading to the high school ranks to coach.

Parnell Park is a Gaelic Athletic Association venue in Donnycarney on the northside of Dublin, which has a capacity of 11,500 and is nicknamed The Nell. The ground hosts the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Railway Cup Dublin Cup Championships and is used by Dublin’s inter-county teams and as a training ground for major games being played at Croke Park. This is where GIFT Honorary Chairman and UCD Director of Sport, Brian Mullins, played so many memorable matches in his stellar career. Mullins will be handling coin-tossing duties to begin the games there on August 31, ensuring a fun return to his home stadium.

Patrick Steenberge, President of Global Football, “Steve Belles and I first met back in 1999 when I helped organize a Notre Dame Alumni team to play in Germany. We have been friends ever since, and he was the first high school coach I contacted about the GIFT idea, which he wholeheartedly embraced. Another personal link is that the Hamilton Athletic Director, Rick Baniszewski is from my hometown of Erie, Pa.! With so many private schools coming to Ireland, they have demonstrated that a public school can also take advantage of this special athletic and educational opportunity.”

Tickets are on sale through www.Tickets.ie/GIFT2012 priced €15 for adults and may be printed from home after purchasing. Admission is free for children aged 12 and under and a €10 student ticket will be available at the venues on game day.

Fans back home in Arizona can catch all the action by tuning into a webcast produced by TodoCast Live Internet Broadcasting. A package offering all six games live and available on-demand following the GIFT 2012 event will be available through www.GlobalFootball.com and www.GIFT2012.com priced $19.95 and fans will also be able to order games in advance.

Hamilton High School was established in 1998 and is a four-year (grades 9-12) comprehensive high school located in the southeastern part of the City of Chandler, Arizona. The school follows a district-wide modified year round calendar. Hamilton High School offers outstanding curriculum, comprehensive fine arts and athletics programs, and a wide variety of extra curricular activities. State of the art technology enhances students’ learning, presentation, and research capabilities. Students at Hamilton High School are expected to make use of an array of technological tools to enhance their learning. Computer labs are available and allow students to develop their own interactive presentations using sound, video, animation, graphics and texts. In keeping with the school’s philosophy, an integrated curriculum is a primary goal.

Media may download action photos of Parnell Park and the GIFT 2012 event logo, here.

GIFT Partners / Supporters: University College Dublin, Trinity College, Education in Ireland, Failte Ireland, IAFA, Play Like a Champion Today, Abbey Tours, Anthony Travel, Rogers Athletic.

GCND One on One :- Justin Brent

Photo: Rivals.com

GCND was able to catch up with the second overall 2014 recruit to commit to the Fighting Irish, Justin Brent.

The 6-3 WR from Speedway, IN, is regarded as a 4* wideout by rivals.com.

Justin was kind enough to facilitate GCND staff wtih an interview of his recruitment process, an what he is most looking forward to at Notre Dame.


  • Ht:6’3″
  • Wt:193 lbs
  • 40:4.6 secs
  • Bench Max:270
  • Squat Max:375

GCND: What can you bring to Notre Dame on & off the football field?

Justin: I’ve always been known as a kid that stays extremely polite to all and always has a smile on his face. So off the field I will always be the extremely nice, humble guy. On the field Notre Dame will be getting a kid that will always be the one to work his hardest, and keep a positive attitude. One that loves to do a little extra.

GCND: What played the biggest part in you making the decision to pick Notre Dame and exactly how close was the recruitment process?

Justin: It came down to them and Ohio State in the end. I went to Notre Dame June 22nd and Ohio State June 23rd. I performed great at each camp and had one on one talks with both Coach Kelley and Coach Meyer. I’ve always been a huge Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer fan when they were at Florida. But even after being wanted by Coach Meyer I felt that Notre Dame was the place for me, everything felt so comfortable, and with my mom being a teacher, she loved the academic part of things. After the OSU camp I even called Coach Martin and let him know. After they got from vacation ND got my transcript, got me, my little sister, and my mom up for a visit and offered.

GCND: Redshirting, if this situation arises, will it be an issue for you?

Justin: Definitely wouldn’t be an issue, I’m the type of teammate that wants to win and do whatever helps the team the most, so if that’s what the staff thinks would be best, that would be fine. But of course I would love to make a contribution as soon as possible.

GCND: Have you decided what you will Major in ?

Justin: I was always 50/50 between business management and broadcasting but with Notre Dame having one of the best business management schools, the decision became I will do that.

GCND: Have you had a chance to experience game day in Notre Dame stadium ? If so what were the highs & lows of the event ?

Justin: Went to Spring Game. The way they treat and great their recruits was amazing so that was a high. I really couldn’t say there was a low at all. Maybe the need of a jumbotron at some times haha. But seriously no negatives I can really think of.

GCND: What do you think of this years schedule, care to predict the outcome ?

Justin: Well everyone knows I am rooting for ND to win every game haha. That’s what I’m rooting for.

GCND: What are you most looking forward to at ND?

Justin: Building a relationship with my teammates, friends and coaches. Definitely looking forward to winning a lot of football games.

GCND: Tell me a bit about the coach who recruited you, what was he selling that the other recruiters were not?

Justin: I was recruited by Coach Elston in the beginning and Coach Martin sort of took over after camp. Education and the success that a student from ND can have without going to the next level football wise is what definitely sold me.

GCND: So, fill in the gaps between now and settling into campus life at Notre Dame, what is on the agenda?

Justin: Well I have two more years before I will even be able to be there. So on the agenda is just winning football games for my high school and continuing to get better. In the mix will for sure be going to ND practices, game and knowing the coaching staff even better.

GCND: Was there any negative recruiting towards Notre Dame, and if so what made you see past it ?

Justin: Not one negative at all. That’s probably why I pulled the trigger so fast.

GCND: What would you like to improve, academically & athletically before enrolling in ND ?

Justin: Grades have never really been a problem for me so I would definitely like to just keep improving speed and winning games in high school.

Biletnikoff watch list includes TJ Jones

Originally posted on Inside the Irish:

It’s tough to get too worked up about a “watch list.” The closest thing to the Little League participation trophy in college football, it’s an annual roll call of college football’s best names, a small pat on the back during the doldrums of summer that serve as talking points until preseason all-conference teams are announced and teams actually — you know, put the pads on and start practicing.

Yet as the Biletnikoff Award released its annual short list, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of Irish wide receiver TJ Jones. After a sophomore season that saw Jones catch 38 balls for only 366 yards and three touchdowns, not even the most optimistic Irish fan saw Jones as someone worthy of a Top 50 wide receiver mention in college football.

Yet Jones represents the best returning wide receiver on the Irish roster, even if he’s…

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Court date changed for Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees

Court date changed for ND QB

The court hearing for Notre Dame Junior quarterback, Tommy Rees, will now be held on July 24th instead of this Tuesday after a request from Rees’ attorney.

Rees was arrested in early May along with Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese outside a house party off campus after Rees had attempted to flee the scene.

Rees faces four misdemeanour’s including two charges of resisting arrest by a law enforcement officer, one count of battery to a law enforcement officer, and one count under age drinking.

Rees has finished the last two seasons as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, after taking over from an injured Dayne Crist almost two seasons ago. Entering his junior year, he’s now in a four way battle to retain the starting position with Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and true Freshman Gunner Kiel.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has cleared Rees to participate in summer workouts while his legal situation plays out. The Irish open up camp on August 4th, and will face the Naval Academy on Sept 1 in Dublin, Ireland.

Police were called to the home in South Bend in early May due to a noise complaint. South Bend police Capt. Phil Trent says Rees was part of a group who had jumped a backyard fence and ran after officers had arrived at the party.

According to police reports, Rees ran from officer Brandon Stec. Police say a cab driver saw the pursuit and blocked Rees’s path. Then, they say Rees raised his knee into the officer, knocking the wind out of him. Officials say the cab driver then grabbed Rees and kept him from running away.

When the officer tried to arrest Rees, police say Rees scuffled with him and they both fell back on the pavement. Stec sustained scrapes to the arm in the struggle.

Jason is owner and author of godcountrynotredame.me and writes for both IrishCentral and domersportsreport You can find Jason on twitter at @jayomahony

Blue-chip CB recruit Hargreaves gets look at Notre Dame

Originally posted on Inside the Irish:

It’s no secret that the depth chart at cornerback is inviting for recruits. With little starting experience to speak of on the roster and numbers ripe for addition, the Irish are still chasing a number of elite cornerback in their ’13 recruiting class, even with Rashard Kinlaw and Devin Butler already on board.

There’s probably no bigger name on the Irish’s wish list than Tampa cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. A consensus top ten player in the country according to multiple recruiting websites, Hargreaves made a stop by South Bend today to check out Notre Dame, and early reports are coming back that the Irish helped themselves.

Josh Newberg of 247Sports.com was one of the only reporters that got a quote from the 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback, who had this to say about his quick stop under the dome.

“It was good. I liked it,” Hargreaves told Newberg. “Notre Dame is…

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A View From Section 7 – An Introduction

My name is Mark Allen.  I am new here at God, Country, Notre Dame.  I just wanted to introduce myself as well as the column that I will be writing.

For the past six years I have had season tickets for Notre Dame women’s basketball.  I sit in the lower arena at Purcell Pavilion at The Joyce Center.  I am in section 7, hence, the title of my column, “A View From Section 7″.

The topic of my column will be Notre Dame women’s basketball.  The Fighting Irish women’s basketball program is one of the most successful program at the University of Notre Dame.  In 1997, Notre Dame went to their first Final Four.  In 2001, The Irish won their first National Championship.  And, for the last two seasons (2010-2011 and 2011-2012), Muffet McGraw has led Notre Dame to the Championship game.  So, to say that the Irish women’s basketball team is successful and exciting is an understatement.

Topics covered in my articles will be games, players, coaches and former players.  Hopefully, interviews with former players will be included.  And, of course, the life blood of any program is recruiting and ND fans love recruiting news.  So, expect recruiting profiles, also.  In the meantime, Go Irish! and “Do the Muffet”!