Reigning Stanley Cup champions the Chicago Blackhawks begin training camp in the Compton Family Ice Arena on Thursday and will host public practices Saturday and Sunday, with a special student event Friday. Tom Nevala, general manager of the Compton Family Ice Arena, said Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman, a 1995 Notre Dame alumnus, wanted to bring the team to his alma mater to build community. “[Bowman] just happened to be in the area last February … and suggested that they might want to come to campus for training camp if we could work that out,” Nevala said. “They liked the idea of getting their guys all together to do a little team unity exercise instead of operating from their individual homes in Chicago and just coming to the United Center. They thought to spend a few days on campus with a facility like we have here would be a great way to start their next year.” Nevala said the Blackhawks would take advantage of Compton’s many amenities during training camp. “They’re bringing 60 players here so you have to have the locker space for 60 guys, and I think we were able to provide that compared to what they might be used to [at the United Center],” he said. “I think the opportunity to use both rinks [will be helpful] … Maybe they’re going to run practice on one side and the scrimmages that they’ve been advertising in the main arena.” During training camp, the Blackhawks will split up into three different teams and play two scrimmages a day, he said. The Blackhawks are also looking forward to experiencing Notre Dame’s campus for a few days, Nevala said. “I think they just like being in the campus environment, with Eddy Street [Commons] available,” he said. “They’re staying at the Morris Inn. I’m sure they’ll probably go play golf one day and we’re going to try to get them to football practice.” Blackhawks players will also attend a team dinner with the Notre Dame hockey squad Friday, Nevala said. Nevala said it was the Blackhawks’ idea to sell public tickets to Saturday and Sunday’s practices, which are currently sold out. However, Notre Dame was adamant about doing something special for its students, he said. “All along we were hoping we could do something unique for our students while [the Blackhawks] were here,” he said. “We said, ‘Well, how about we do a day with the students when you aren’t selling tickets,’ and it’ll be a unique opportunity for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students to get in and see them scrimmage if they have time during their lunch break or something. We don’t want anybody skipping class, now.” Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students can attend the Blackhawks’ practice for free Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. in the Compton Family Ice Arena with a valid student ID. Nevala said he hopes the Blackhawks cap off their visit to Notre Dame by bringing the Stanley Cup to campus. “We’re hopeful that the Stanley Cup might be on campus at some point during this visit,” he said. “I literally don’t know how long it would be here if it’s going to be here. We’re hopeful it makes its second visit because Stan did bring it here in 2010. After they won the Stanley Cup that year, he used his day with the cup to bring it to campus for the Notre Dame vs. Stanford football game. We’re hopeful it comes again.” Nevala said he hopes the Blackhawks decide to return again next year. “We hope [the Blackhawks] enjoy their time in South Bend and on campus, and maybe they’ll decide this is a good way to start their year again in the future,” he said.
By Gwen RolandUniversity of GeorgiaFor much of two centuries, farmers grew velvet beans to controlweeds and build up organic matter in the soil in their fields.Now, University of Georgia scientists are taking a second look atthis old favorite.”When my grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Itold him I was researching the plant from which a drug to treatit is made,” said Nicole Martini, a UGA horticulture graduatestudent.”A few months later,” she said, “he showed me his medicine bottleand said, ‘Look, here’s your plant.”Velvet beans’ pharmaceutical use is fairly new in the UnitedStates. But people elsewhere have used it to treat ailments fromdepression to snakebite.L-dopaThe medicinal properties come from a high concentration ofL-dopa, a precursor of dopamine. This may be why most insectsavoid it. Doctors use L-dopa to treat Parkinson’s disease.Velvet beans were a favorite cover crop in the South for morethan 150 years. “Weeds don’t like velvet beans,” Martini said.”And they contribute tons of biomass per acre.”It provided forage for livestock. It controlled weeds. It addednitrogen and biomass to the soil. But it disappeared from therural landscape in the mid-1950s, though, when better roads andlow-cost farm chemicals enabled farmers to plant the same cropsyear after year.With growing concern over chemical inputs, researchers arelooking anew at velvet beans. Martini’s experiments in Georgiafocus on biomass and weed control. She uses the Georgia Bushvariety bred by UGA researcher Sharad Phatak.Many benefitsAt the UGA campus in Tifton, Ga., she and other scientists studyvelvet beans’ benefits. “Just 120 days after planting, velvetbeans produced 65.6 tons of fresh biomass per hectare, about 50percent more biomass than Sunn Hemp,” she said.This supported the theory that velvet beans can improve theorganic matter content and fertility of soils in Georgia, shesaid.”We also found that a solution prepared using velvet bean residuein water reduced growth of crab grass, sicklepod and pigweed,”she said. “It didn’t eliminate them, but it did reduce them.”From the data, she concludes that through a combination of theadded biomass, the quick growth that shades out weeds and theallelopathic effect, a farmer would see fewer weeds if he usedvelvet beans as a summer cover crop before planting fallvegetables.Adding those traits to the potential now to sell beans to drugcompanies could mean a major comeback for velvet beans.”Farmers are more inclined to use cover crops if some part ofthat crop also has economic value,” Martini said.The velvet bean study was funded by a grant from the SouthernRegion Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.(Gwen Roland is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
USC men’s volleyball (3-0, 2-0 MPSF) kicked off its season with two dominant wins at home against Stanford and Pepperdine, and now they look to take their dominance on the road to face UC San Diego (1-3, 0-2 MPSF).After upsetting then-No. 2 Pepperdine and sweeping No. 12 Stanford, the undefeated Trojans have jumped three spots from No. 8 to No. 5.The Trojans are led by senior setter and team captain Micah Christenson. His ability to keep the Trojans focused throughout each set has become vital for their success. “These are some of the tightest teammates that we’ve had in a long time,” Christenson said. “We’re ready to take on the challenges of this season together.”In addition to Christenson, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Christopher Orenic, senior middle blocker Robert Feathers, junior opposite hitter Josh Kirchner and freshman outside hitter Larry Tuileta all fuel USC’s offense. Against Stanford, they each produced a team-high of nine kills. The attacking strength and versatility of the offense proved too difficult for the Cardinal to contain, leading to their defeat in three straight sets. If the Trojans can continue their offensive flexibility and dominance at the net, their opponents will have a difficult time defending their attack.Freshman standout Tuileta had his first start against Stanford and tied the team-high of nine kills and produced one solo block. Tuileta, also a quarterback for the football team, added to the Trojans offensive variability.USC has also dominated in serving. Against Pepperdine, USC had 11 service aces, five coming from Christenson. During the offseason, Christenson developed a new serve. He now uses a jump and float serve out of the same toss and debuted his new serve against Pepperdine.“I’m happy with it so far,” Christenson said. “I’m only going to get better at it.”Head coach Bill Ferguson recognized his team’s serving dominance against Pepperdine and modified the rotation to maximize his team’s scoring.“We put our rotation to get three of our best servers [Christenson, Orenic and Feathers] on the line,” Ferguson said. “We look at that like a batting order.”On the defensive side of the game, junior libero and team captain Brooks Varni is leading the team in digs with 28 on the season. Christenson is second with 23 digs. Varni works to keep the team focused and ready in the back to receive the opponent’s serves and spikes. The Trojans have averaged 9.6 digs per set and a .948 serve reception percentage.“We worked hard in the offseason,” Varni said. “It showed in our play.”Christenson and Varni run the team like a well-oiled machine on the court. Their leadership skills are evident when watching from the stands. After every point, the two captains huddle the team up and keep their teammates motivated and focused on one point at a time.UCSD has struggled in the opening matches of its season. In conference play, UCSD suffered losses to Long Beach State and CSUN, both in three straight sets.UCSD only averages 10.1 kills and .6 aces per set and a .143 attacking percentage, while USC averages 13.6 kills and 1.7 aces per set and a .274 attacking percentage. If the numbers hold up, USC should remain undefeated and emerge victorious in La Jolla this evening to focus on No. 3 UC Irvine the following night.