May 4, 2010
Notre Dame, Ind. – Hundreds of former Irish football players spanning generations returned to campus to take part in the 81st Annual Blue-Gold Football Weekend, the first of the Brian Kelly era.
Former players returning for the weekend had the opportunity to attend spring football practice, enjoy a Ruth’s Chris dinner with fellow football alums and members of the current squad, and catch-up with one another at a reception held in the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge.
“As you know I have been a little busy coaching other teams for the last 19 years,” Kelly said. “So these last few days have been wonderful for me because it has given me a chance to learn so much more about Notre Dame and what makes it so special.”
On Friday afternoon a number of former players were in attendance at Notre Dame Stadium to get an up-close and personal look at the 2010 Irish football team hard at work practicing for the upcoming season.
“We have had 14 practices this spring and I can tell you one thing, our young men want to win,” Kelly said. “We are learning everyday what it takes to win. Our guys have made the commitment to do everything possible to be successful and we will continue that.”
Following practice, hundreds of former players and their families filled the Joyce Center Fieldhouse for the Annual Friday Night Football Dinner sponsored by Ruth’s Chris Steak House. To bridge the gap between legend and legacy, a member of the current Irish football team joined former players and their guests during the meal.
Reggie Brooks `93, manager for monogram/football alumni relations, got the evening started by welcoming back the football alumni. In his remarks directed at the current team, he encouraged them to get to know the former players who are so much a part of the storied tradition of Notre Dame.
“Take a look around tonight, there are some pretty outstanding individuals you will be sitting with,” Brooks said. “Reach out to them, they are your family now because you decided to make a 40-year decision not just a four -year decision.”
During the dinner it was announced that due to weather concerns this year’s Alumni Flag Football Game scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning inside Notre Dame Stadium had been canceled.
After dinner, Monogram Club president Joe Restic ’79 made his way to the podium to share the many contributions the Club has made over the past year to benefit the football program. These contributions include sponsoring the 2009 Japan Bowl, funding the themed gate inside Notre Dame Stadium which honors Notre Dame players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and thanks to the generosity of Peter Schivarelli, the Monogram Club now hosts a pregame reception on Friday evenings in the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge.
Restic then introduced athletics director Jack Swarbrick who spoke about the legacy of Irish football and what makes it so special.
“This is a great evening and one of my favorite functions of the year,” Swarbrick said. “Tonight brings together so many elements that are important to the Notre Dame football family including the men who created the legacy of Notre Dame football with the men who are currently charged with honoring that legacy.”
To conclude the Friday Night Football Dinner head football coach Brian Kelly, clad in “The Shirt”, received a standing ovation from crowd as he made his way to the podium. Kelly said. “The pride and tradition of Notre Dame football will not be left to the weak, the timid or the non-committed. If that sounds like the Fighting Irish, that is exactly what it is intended to be, because that is the type of football team we are going to put on the field.”
Kelly also expressed his desire to put a team on the field that the players and coaches who came before him would be proud of.
“To get where we want to be we have to recognize how our past can influence our future.” Kelly said. ” Our rich tradition of Notre Dame football is something we need to build on to show our players the right way to play. I want that past history to be a part of our present and our future.”
To wrap up the evening, former football players and their guests were invited to a reception in the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge where they had an opportunity to reconnect with each other while sharing stories about their time on campus and on the gridiron.
“The Monogram Club has had the great fortune of working hand-in-hand with the football office to put together the annual Blue-Gold Football Alumni Weekend,” said executive director Beth Hunter. “This year marked the 11th annual celebration, and we look forward to carrying this tradition into the future.”