April 29, 2010

Notre Dame, Ind. –

April 28, 2010

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Notre Dame, Ind. – The 2010 Blue-Gold Weekend provided the Monogram Club with an opportunity for members to welcome the University’s newest head coach, while paying tribute to two pioneers in the history of Notre Dame Athletics.

Head football coach Brian Kelly joined the Monogram Club for multiple events throughout the weekend and on Saturday, the Club honored former swimming coach Dennis Stark ’47 and the late Father Bernard Lange ’12 for their contributions to the University.

The weekend got underway bright and early on Friday morning as the Monogram Club Board of Directors held its annual spring board meeting in the brand new Club Naimoli located inside Purcell Pavilion.

On Saturday, Monogram Club members spanning decades gathered for a pregame Club reception on the Jordan Hall of Science lawn. Hundreds of dues paying Monogram winners and guests gathered and enjoyed the opportunity to share food and fellowship before heading to Notre Dame Stadium for the 81st annual Blue-Gold Spring Football Game.

This year’s Blue-Gold contest brought back a feeling of nostalgia as a young Montana led the Notre Dame Gold squad to a come-from-behind victory. Nate Montana, son of former Notre Dame and San Francisco 49er great Joe Montana, threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns, to lead the Gold to a 27-19 victory over the Blue squad Saturday.

Highlighting the Monogram Club weekend, a diverse group of 450 Monogram winners and guests representing numerous sports and generations, gathered in Sports Heritage Hall for the Monogram Club Annual Mass, Meeting & Dinner.

Honorary Monogram Member Father Paul Doyle, C.S.C., presided over the Annual Monogram Club Mass, in which a standing-room only crowd gathered. During Mass, Monogram Club president Joe Restic ’79 took time to recognize the Club members who passed away over the past year.

Following welcome remarks from executive director Beth Hunter, the dinner program commenced with Restic introducing Coach Kelly and thanking him for the time he spent with the Club during the weekend.

“I grew up in a football family and one of the downsides to that is not always having a lot of time to spend with your dad during the season and spring ball,” Restic said. “On behalf of the Monogram Club I would like to thank Coach Kelly for the time he has taken to be a part of these Monogram Club events throughout the weekend.”

During his address to the Club, Kelly mentioned, “this spring we are getting in touch with our roots. Our guys are going to have fun playing football, but winning makes it easier to enjoy the experience. This spring is just the first coat of paint. We’re still in the early stages of developing our team.”

Following dinner, Restic returned to the podium to highlight a few of the Club’s accomplishments from the year. In 2009-10, the Monogram Club established a new mentoring program which has already paired 28 current Notre Dame student-athletes with Monogram Club members, provided $297,000 in financial aid to 30 sons and daughters of Monogram Club members through the Brennan Boland Riehle Scholarship Fund and introduced the Monogram Club Postgame Mass, which is a perfect way to wrap up a football Saturday back on campus.

Restic recognized and thanked the five outgoing members of the Monogram Club Board of Directors for their service to the Club over the past three-years. Members leaving the Board include Tom Galloway ’87 (football), Darrell Gordon ’89 (football), Michael Richerson ’85 (football), Jennifer Slosar-Smith ’93 (volleyball) and Rich Wickel ’82 (lacrosse).

Restic then welcomed and introduced the five new members to the Monogram Club Board – Mike Brown ’01 (leprechaun), Don Casey ’82 (swimming), Andrea Loman ’03 (softball), Kevin McShane ’90 (football) and Chris Parent ’93 (lacrosse).

Following a short highlight video from the 2009 Japan Bowl, the Club paid tribute to two legendary figures in Notre Dame athletics history: Father Bernard Lange and Dennis Stark.

Twenty-five members of the Lange family traveled from across the country to attend the Monogram Club dinner along with 40 members of “FLAB” – the Father Lange Alumni Board, to recognize the man known as the worlds strongest priest, who earlier in the day had a plaque dedicated in his honor in the Guglielmino Athletics Center.

“My heart was in my throat from the moment I saw the plaque on the wall,” said Kent Durso ’67, who spoke on behalf of “FLAB” during the dinner. “This most special weekend ensured that an important part of the legend and lore of Notre Dame would take its rightful place in history, and thanks all involved, Father Lange’s memory will now never die.”

To conclude the evening, former Irish swimmer and Monogram Club advisor Dan Rahill ’79 introduced Stark, calling him “a pioneer in terms of establishing community service within the Notre Dame family.”

Rahill reminisced about the many times he and his teammates spent weekends and evenings volunteering at Logan Center and also recalled the message Stark conveyed to his team at the start of road trips. Coach Stark always told us “You are here to represent the institution you represent.”

Joining Rahill were more than 100 former Irish swimmers (both men and women) who returned for a weekend reunion and were in attendance to honor Stark as he received the Monogram Club’s most prestigious honor – The Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award.

A 1947 Notre Dame graduate, Stark spent 27 years coaching (including four with the women’s program) and 48 years teaching physical education at Notre Dame. He has long been involved with the Special Olympics, with Logan Center in South Bend and various other charitable causes. He spoke about his wife Angelina’s death in 2003 and how he continued to teach PE for another two years, until he finally heard her voice saying to him to him, “you’re 81, give it up!”

“To get this award you need people to help you along the way,” Stark said. “I always felt my family helped me because they were so patient with me and allowed me to be involved with so many things throughout campus.”