The Notre Dame family celebrates the life of one of its own each time the softball team steps foot onto Melissa Cook Stadium.
The Irish unveiled their new playing facility during a ceremony on April 12, 2008. University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., blessed the site which will house the Irish softball program for years to come, and remarks were given by former athletics director Dr. Kevin White, head softball coach Deanna Gumpf, (then) senior captain Katie Laing, Lisa Hoffman and Paul and Linda Demo. The Demos, parents of Melissa Cook, also helped bless a bronze relief of the former Irish player that sits just inside the main entrance of the stadium.
Cook, a 1994 Notre Dame graduate, was one of four people involved in a March 2002 construction accident at the John Hancock Building in Chicago that claimed their lives. The families of the departed reached a settlement with the skyscraper’s owners and other companies named in a joint lawsuit. Paul and Linda Demo contributed a considerable amount of their portion of the settlement as a gift to Notre Dame and to the Melissa Cook Memorial Foundation, established to provide scholarship assistance to students in Northwest Indiana.
Raised in Merrillville, Ind., Cook played for the Fighting Irish softball team in 1991 and 1992, seeing time at second base, shortstop and catcher. She led the team in triples as a freshman and earned a monogram before opting to study abroad one year later. An accounting major, she earned her bachelor’s degree and was the controller for Teamsters Union Local 786 prior to her death.