May 23, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A national women’s lacrosse unsung hero award created in memory of late Virginia midfielder Yeardley Reynolds Love to be presented to the men’s and women’s players who best “demonstrate dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship,” evokes the obvious choice of Notre Dame’s Katherine McManus to stand high atop the candidate roll.
Although deeply linked through their pursuits of success in Atlantic Coast Conference lacrosse, a bevy of extra curricular activities centered around promoting the common good, and being a wonderful teammate, Love and the president-elect of the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also share a vastly more insidious bond – domestic violence. Acts similar to those which cost Love her life in 2010, also cost McManus her sister, Victoria, about a year ago.
Through these almost inexplicable bonds, McManus was named on Saturday afternoon as the 2015 women’s recipient of the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award.
An inspiration to all around her and a true unsung hero, McManus follows in the footsteps of her former Irish teammate, Molly Shawhan, a finalist for this award in both 2013 and 2014. The 2015 men’s recipient is Todd Stewart of Brown.
One of the most well-liked members of the Notre Dame team, the Irish rallied around their teammate in May of 2014 at an unexpected time. Just days after the season ended with an NCAA tournament loss, McManus received the terrible news that Victoria had been murdered in Chicago by her ex-boyfriend. Shortly after seemingly parting ways for the summer, nearly the entire team reassembled in suburban Boston to console their teammate and her family in a time of unspeakable grief at Victoria’s funeral.
McManus had earned the respect of her teammates and Notre Dame athletic peers through her tireless work with local pediatric cancer patients through the Fighting Irish Fight For Life program. She became the “girlfriend” of six-year old Bobby Russell last year as he fought through chemotherapy and has continued that work this year with the team’s latest FIFFL pairing, Jeremiah.
McManus earned an ACC Top Six Award for Service following the 2014 and 2015 seasons and the conference highlighted her special bond with Bobby for an ACC United Way promotional video. The ACC also highlighted her strength in overcoming the horrible adversity thrust upon her last summer by showing a WatchND feature on her during halftime of Notre Dame’s ACC tournament game against Love’s Virginia Cavaliers in April.
She serves as the community service chair for Notre Dame’s SAAC, working primarily with the Fighting Irish Fight For Life program and Habitat For Humanity. She has scheduled dates for student-athletes from all 26 Notre Dame sports, along with coaches and support staff for a Habitat house being built for a single mother with two children and personally spend many hours of her own time building this family’s new home.
McManus assisted with the softball team’s annual Strike Out Cancer weekend, inspired by softball coach Deanna Gumpf’s daughter, Tatum, who survived pediatric lymphoma. The extensive annual weekend for the softball team also includes a fundraising trivia night and the Irish wearing striking orange uniforms to promote awareness for pediatric cancer.
She has assisted with the SAAC’s Relay For Life event each of the past two years, including an all-night walk-a-thon around the concourse of Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena whose rink is dyed purple for the weekend. McManus has worked with Notre Dame’s athletic department and student government this year on the “It’s On Us” campaign, filming promotional videos to help prevent sexual assaults on campus.
McManus has participated each year in the school’s annual Adopt-A-Family program at Christmas time to spread holiday joy to Michiana families in need. She has helped an applied research lab at the University helping abused, maltreated and neglected children and their mothers. She also spent time her freshman year assisting at a South Bend homeless shelter with her teammates.
A role model off the field and also on it where she has steadily seen her playing time increase through hard work and dedication, McManus appeared in a career-high 12 games for Notre Dame in 2015. She was particularly relied upon over the final month assisting in covering some of the defensive prowess lost by an injury to All-American midfielder Casey Pearsall. McManus helped the Irish to an ACC tournament win over Virginia and an NCAA tournament win over Ohio State – Notre Dame’s first-ever ACC tournament victory and its first-ever NCAA tournament win away from South Bend.