Running & Other Adventures in the Bend

Guest post by Kelly Heilman, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences

Spending time outside running, hiking, and generally exploring has always been my preferred form of stress relief. When I moved to South Bend, this was no different. Could South Bend be a good place for an outdoor adventurer, you ask? While we don’t have mountains to run up and ski down, I discovered an active running community and several unique recreation opportunities in the area. From running, to backpacking, and exploring the region’s outdoor resources, I’m listing my favorite opportunities that I wish I had known about earlier in my Grad Life here at Notre Dame.

If you don’t see your adventure sport of choice featured below—don’t fret! Some friends in my department & I co-founded a graduate jogging group (see JOGS below) because we realized there were no social running groups that currently served the needs of graduate students. So, if you would like to see a new group on campus, chances are you are not alone! Get out there and have an adventure!

South Bend Offers an Active Running Community and Recreation Opportunities Such As Running, Hiking, and Backpacking
Organized Running & Adventure Groups:

JOGS (Jogging Organization for Graduate Students): A new SAO approved club that for ND Graduate Students interested in jogging! We host at least 2 runs each week (Runs this semester are on Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm), and our goal is to create a fun social network of Joggers/runners on campus. Email jogs@nd.edu for more information!

Fleet Feet Pub Runs: Every Wednesday evening Fleet Feet hosts a 5k pub/social run around ND campus, leaving from O’Rourkes on Eddy Street. You get to meet a lot of different runners (who run a lot of different paces) & several people often hang around O’Rourkes afterwards.

South Bend Adventure Club: Informal adventure group in the region whose members organize hikes, backpacking trips, kayak outings, and much more. I have organized some ski events & a Backpacking trip in the Ozarks with this group. The group’s Facebook page is how events are organized.

Local Parks to Explore:

St. Patrick’s County Park: Local favorite with some fun running trails, as well as many community events. They also offer cross-country skiing (including rentals) in the winter!

Potato Creek State Park: State park in Indiana with hiking & running trails, mountain biking, and a small lake. 

Warren Dunes & Grand Mere State Parks: Two different state parks in MI with sand dunes you can hike up, access to Lake Michigan, and some trails through the woods.

Get outside & adventuring!

Top 10 RecSports Things To Do

In this guest post, Kendra Bayne – Assistant Director at RecSports, shares with us that RecSports is about much more than getting a workout in. Keep reading to see all that they have to offer.

Are you an incoming graduate student at the University of Notre Dame looking for some awesome things to do this coming year? If you are, then you’ve come to the right place! Here at Notre Dame RecSports, we have a variety of offerings for our graduate students to get involved in so you can stay active, meet some new friends, and enhance your graduate experience while at the university. We have compiled a top ten list to give our incoming graduate students a starting point as they begin their search into Notre Dame RecSports.

 

  1. Add a certification to your resume

    One of our most beneficial offerings here at RecSports are our Certification Classes. RecSports offers American Red Cross certification courses for Adult CPR/AED and First Aid. These blended courses combine award-winning, engaging and interactive online simulation learning plus an in-person classroom session to learn and practice critical lifesaving skills for certification. Click here to learn more about our certification classes and how to sign up!Experience Intramural Sports – One of the largest traditions on the campus of Notre Dame, Intramural Sports offers the opportunity for students to participate in various leagues and tournaments throughout the year. Notre Dame is considered to have one of the most unique Intramural Sports programs in the country and graduate students have the ability to participate in a few of these unique sports such as broomball and curling. Click here to learn more about for more information on our Intramural Sports!

  2. Join a Club Sport 

    From rowing to volleyball, rugby to boxing, our club sports are a great way to engage in physical activity on and off campus. Club sports can challenge you to learn a new skill or improve your abilities in a sport you have played all your life. Additionally, the social aspect of joining any of our club sports allows you to meet new people on campus, forge strong friendships, and become an active member in the Notre Dame community. Click here for more information on our club sports!

  3. Conquer the Climbing & Bouldering Wall

    Built in 2017 by Eldorado, the Climbing & Bouldering Wall are made up of both high-performance paneling and real rock textures for the maximum variety of terrain. With over 2,000 sq. ft. of climbable surface, the walls feature a diverse mix of routes accommodating all climbers from beginner to advanced. Click here to learn more about the Climbing & Bouldering Wall!

  4. Try out Group Fitness Classes

    Tired of working out alone? Group Fitness Classes are the cure to that! Meet some new friends as you enjoy a wide variety of group fitness classes that accommodate a range of skills, interests, and age groups. Click here to check out all of our group fitness classes!

  5. Learn through Instructional Series

    For those looking to learn a new skill, such as Tai Chi or Partner Latin Dance, RecSports programs a large menu of instructional classes. These classes meet for a series of weeks rather than semester long, and lessons build upon each other. Click here for more information on our instructional series by visiting our website!

  6. Sign up for Personal Training

    If you’re looking to get serious about your exercise and physical activity, then hiring a personal trainer can be a great way to make a real change in your life. A personal trainer can help you improve your confidence by designing a fitness program unique to your needs and goals. Learn to improve your body’s functional movement through the use of safe and effective exercises that will keep you energized and ready to take your life in a whole new direction. Click here for more information on personal training, check out our website!

  7. Participate in the Domer Run

    Whether you would like to participate in the event or be a volunteer, everyone should be a part of the annual Domer Run! The Domer Run is a fun run with proceeds that are donated to the Gyna Girls of the RiverBend Cancer Services, whose mission is to support women with gynecological cancers, to educate others in recognizing gynecological cancer symptoms, and to be proactive in their own health. Click here for more information on this amazing event!

  8. Work at RecSports

    Each year, RecSports hires enthusiastic customer service oriented individuals to assist us in providing exceptional programs, facilities, and experiences for the Notre Dame community. Working for RecSports allows you to gain experience and transferable skills outside of the classroom. If you would like to work for RecSports, click here to view the process to working with us!

  9. Visit our Facilities

    RecSports has several amazing facilities that graduate students may access with your Irish1Card from sunrise to sunset, including the Smith Center for Recreational Sports in the Duncan Student Center, the Climbing & Bouldering Wall, Rockne Memorial, North Dome, and St. Joseph Beach. Whether you want to exercise or go for a swim at the beach, RecSports’ facilities are the places to visit! Click here to learn more about all of our facilities!

 

We hope that this list has provided all of our graduate students an informative start to their search into RecSports and that they will utilize their status as a graduate student of the University of Notre Dame to its full potential and stay active with us! If you have any questions or just want to continue your search, visit our website here. We can’t wait for you to join us!

 

Smith Center for Recreational Sports is located on the 3rd floor of Duncan Student Center

Summer in South Bend: Sun, Water, and Sand

If you are looking for a way to escape the heat of summer without shutting yourself indoors, South Bend and the surrounding area have a number of beaches and pools where you can go to enjoy the sun (while it lasts!) and cool off in the water. Here are a few of the options:

Lake Michigan

The beach might not be the first destination that comes to mind when looking for things to do near South Bend, but Notre Dame sits less than an hour away from the shores of Lake Michigan. Complete with soft sand, rolling waves, mild water, and warm sun, it’s almost as good as a trip to the ocean itself! The lake shore can be accessed at several locations for a small fee or for free.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Forty-five minutes west of South Bend, the National Lakeshore has several pleasant beaches. The most popular is West Beach, which has showers, restrooms, lockers, lifeguards, and a large parking lot that only fills up on the busiest days. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is a $6 parking fee per vehicle. Further east, you can choose between Porter Beach, Kemil Beach, and Lake View Beach, all of which have restrooms and all of which can be accessed for free. Note that the latter beaches have smaller parking lots, however, so plan to arrive earlier in the day before they fill up.

Finally, if you are willing to hike a few miles to get to an isolated beach, the Cowles Bog Trail leads to a stretch of Lake Michigan with a beach just as soft and pleasant as the others, but without the crowds. But don’t expect a relaxing stroll!

Indiana Dunes State Park

For the standard Indiana state park entrance fee ($7 for in-state vehicles; $9 for out-of-state), you can access the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park, nestled within the National Lakeshore. There is a parking lot at the beach, a bath house, lifeguards, and a nearby creek. Both the National Lakeshore and the State Park are also excellent spots for hiking, fishing, biking, camping, and birding, and they feature a unique terrain of sand dunes, bogs, and woodland. See my earlier post on Getting Outdoors for more ideas in this vein.

Warren Dunes State Park (Michigan)

To the north, in the state of Michigan, there are a few state parks along the lakeshore. One of them is Warren Dunes, with three miles of beach and a number of hiking trails. With plenty of parking, restrooms, and a bathhouse available, Warren Dunes is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon. Daily park passes for Michigan state parks are $9 for those from out-of-state.

Silver Beach Park (St. Joseph, MI)

Silver Beach, popular among beach-goers, is located in the charming lakeside town of St. Joseph, Michigan, just over half an hour northwest of South Bend. The beach is staffed with lifeguards and there are showers, a playground, picnic areas, beach volleyball courts, a carousel, and boat rentals nearby. While you are in town, you can visit the numerous shops, restaurants, and parks in downtown St. Joseph, or take a stroll on the piers or through one of the town’s many beautiful neighborhoods.

Small Lakes, Pools, and Water Playgrounds

Soldiers Memorial Park Beach (La Porte, IN)

Those seeking to avoid the large numbers of beach-goers on the shores of Lake Michigan might consider visiting Soldiers Park in La Porte, Indiana, home to a small beach on Stone Lake. This beach has a bath house, picnic areas, and volleyball courts. The lake is also host to an annual power-boat racing competition, and the town features a number of other parks, as well as bike trails, restaurants, and a couple of small museums.

Rockne Memorial and St. Joseph Beach (Notre Dame)

Not to be forgotten are two facilities on Notre Dame’s own campus! The first is the beach on St. Joseph Lake, where you can get in the water, get some sun, and rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, or paddleboard. Indoors, at Rockne Memorial, there is a 25-yard swimming pool, open to students and to their families. Check the RecSports website for the latest pool and beach hours, including family hours at Rockne Memorial.

Potawatomi Park Pool and Kennedy Water Playground (South Bend)

Next to the Potawatomi Zoo, Potawatomi City Park, in addition to a splash-pad and a playground, contains an outdoor pool, featuring a water slide and a wading pool for small children. Children up to two years old get in for free, older kids for $4, and adults (18 or over) for $5.

The water playground in Kennedy Park, with slides, swings, and plenty of water, is designed for children to be able to play outdoors and get wet without having to swim. Children up to 3 get in for free, kids up to 10 for $4, and older children for $5. On Sundays, admission is reduced to $2. For those who plan on frequenting either location, a reward card is available that waives the entry fee for every sixth paid entry into either the Potawatomi Pool or the Kennedy Water Playground.

The Kroc Community Center (South Bend)

The Kroc Center, run by the Salvation Army, is home to a variety of athletic and community activities. One of these is an indoor pool area with a water-slide, a lazy river, and a splash pad for small children. The Center also offers swimming lessons, lifeguard certification, fitness classes, and a swim club for adults. In order to use the pool, you must either purchase one of the Center’s several membership options for individuals and families or pay for a day pass. A membership will also give you admission into any other Kroc Center in the nation. For those in financial need, scholarships are available to cover or defray the cost of memberships or youth camps.

East Race Waterway (South Bend)

Finally, South Bend is home to an artificial white water rapids on the St. Joseph River near downtown. Open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Waterway offers various raft sizes for rent and allows kayak owners to take their own boats down the rapids. Riders must be 54 inches or taller and groups may receive a discount when reserving their rafts.

Summer in South Bend: Baseball and the Zoo

Looking for a way to get some leisurely time outdoors this summer? Make a visit to the Potawatomi Zoo or to Four Winds Field, two of Michiana’s foremost attractions.

The Potawatomi Zoo
500 S. Greenlawn Ave.
South Bend, IN 46615
Open daily 10 AM-5 PM

The Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend is an excellent way to spend a summer morning or afternoon. The zoo is small, but well-kept. It takes between two and three hours to see all of the exhibits, which include leopards, lions, buffalo, tortoises, and otters, among many other animals. The establishment is complete with a petting zoo, an old-style carousel, and a miniature train that circles the zoo. The manageable size of the zoo makes it a great choice for families, especially since children two and under get in for free. For a large group, the price of admission can start to add up: tickets are $10 for each person over the age of fourteen and $8 for kids between 3 and 14. Families may be interested to know, however, that the zoo sells family memberships for $72.50. While that might seem like a lot up front, it gets in the whole family, including two adults and up to six kids, for an entire year. Plus, you’ll get discounted admission to the Zoo’s educational programs, many of which are designed for parents and their children. Note that individual student-priced memberships are also available.

The South Bend Cubs at Four Winds Field
501 W. South Street
South Bend, IN 46601

The Cubs are South Bend’s own Class-A Minor League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. They play games most weeks of the summer, and tickets are relatively inexpensive. Their home, Four Winds Field, hosts a variety of concession stands as well as a small water-playground and bouncy castles for children. Every game is interspersed with contests and giveaways for the fans. Standard stadium seats sell for $11 each; alternatively, you can purchase a ticket to sit on the Lawn for $9, though you’ll have to bring your own blankets or cushions.

Why does a university founded by a French religious order have a leprechaun as its mascot?

Notre Dame Leprechaun LogoIt didn’t always. Our sports teams have been known as the Ramblers, the Rovers, and the Irish Terriers.  But an early association between Irish Immigrants and Catholicism led to a tradition of referring to anyone from Notre Dame as Irish.  While the use of the Fighting Irish moniker dates back to the turn of the 20th century, the image of the leprechaun with fists up ready to fight, was only adopted as the official mascot in 1965. The leprechaun logo is typically only used in conjunction with the University’s athletics teams and not with the academic programs.