NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Luke La Valle, a native of New York, N.Y., succumbed to cancer on December 31 at the age of 30. La Valle fenced with the Irish from 1996-99, earning four monograms and posting a 200-20 (.909) career record in sabre. His 200 career wins rank second-most in men’s team history, while his .909 winning-percentage is ninth best.
As a junior, La Valle won the NCAA sabre title in 1998. At the Championship, he posted a 17-6 record on his way to becoming the 10th individual weapon champion in program history when he defeated Michael Golia of Penn, 15-11.
La Valle is one of just 17 fencers to have attained All-America status in all four years of competition with the Irish fencing program. Aside from his first-place finish in 1998, La Valle finished fourth in 1996, fifth in 1997 and 11th in 1999. In his four stints of NCAA Championship play, La Valle posted 62 wins, seventh most in program history.
About La Valle, head coach Janusz Bednarski said, “Luke was one the best fencers in the history of Notre Dame. It was not only that he won the gold medal in the NCAA Championship, but his style and intellectual capacity also contributed to his greatness. He had a great sense of humor and way of life; he was a true New Yorker, complete with true Fighting Irish spirit.” Bednarski was an assistant coach with the Irish during all four of La Valle’s seasons with the Irish.
In 1998 and 1999 La Valle was named men’s sabre MVP and he also won the Monogram Club fencing MVP in 1998. In 1998 and 1999 he was also captain of the men’s sabre squad. As a freshman in 1996, La Valle recorded 64 wins, the fourth most single-season sabre wins in program history.
La Valle is survived by his wife, Jen, and their daughter, Abigail Rose.
La Valle’s Visiting hours will be Saturday, January 3 and Sunday, January 4 at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, 1076 Madison Ave, 81st St., NY, NY 212-288-3500. The hours on both Saturday and Sunday are from 2-5pm and 7-9pm. The funeral mass will be held on Monday, January 5 at 10am at the St. Ignatius Loyola Church, at Park Ave and East 84th Street. Mass will be followed by the burial on Monday afternoon at the Westhampton Cemetery on Long Island. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Luke’s memory for Lung Cancer Research through the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, N.Y., NY.
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