This feature appears in the Notre Dame-Michigan game day program.
Trust. Love. Commitment.
Three decades ago those were the core values that helped guide the Notre Dame football team to a national championship. This weekend, several players, coaches and managers from that 1988 squad will return to campus to take part in 30th anniversary festivities to commemorate that special season.
Those gridiron legends have continued to be outstanding representatives of the University, athletics department and Monogram Club. The Monogram Club would be nothing without its loyal membership, and many from the ’88 team have played important roles in furthering the Club’s mission, which is guided by its own trio of pillars: community, legacy and service.
“Getting my Monogram jacket was as exciting as getting my degree,” says Rod Smith (’92), who earned his first Monogram as a freshman on the ’88 team. “Knowing that I was a Monogram winner at this University and that was going to be a fact not only in my life, but until the end of time was very, very special. I still put the jacket on every now and again.”
Kevin McShane (’90, football) with C.J. Prosise (’16, football)
at a Monogram Career Network event in 2015.Earning the jacket is not the endgame, it’s just the beginning of a lifelong journey. Reaching the status of being a Monogram winner puts you in an elite community, and it also places more on your shoulders, both literally and figuratively.
“It’s fun to walk into the Joyce Center and see your name up there (in the Ring of Names),” says Pat Terrell (’90), a star safety on the national championship team. “It reminds you that your name is one of many, but it’s an exclusive and important club that you’re a member of. It’s also a reminder of those values that you were taught and those values that you upheld while you were a student-athlete at Notre Dame. Being a member of the Monogram Club reminds you that your expectation in life is to maintain that high standard of being a good person, being a hard worker, and it’s a reminder that nothing comes easy and you get out what you put in.”
While the ’88 team cemented its legacy within the storied history of Notre Dame athletics, those student-athletes did not rest on their on-field accomplishments. Many have continued to have an impact at the University and with their fellow Monogram winners. Three members of that team – Pat Eilers (’89), Darrell “Flash” Gordon (’88, ’89) and Kevin McShane (’90) – served on the Monogram Club’s board of directors.
McShane and his former ’88 teammates Mike Brennan (’89), Scott Kowalkowski (’91) and Wes Pritchett (’89) have been heavily involved in one of the Monogram Club’s key initiatives, the Monogram Career Network (MCN). Through the MCN, Monogram Club members provide current student-athletes and Monogram alumni with career advice and professional development opportunities.
“After graduating, I was interested in finding a way to give back to the University and athletic program that I love and had given me the opportunity of a lifetime,” says McShane, a Monogram Club board member from 2010-17. “I was fortunate to become active within the Monogram Club after graduation and it is a perfect vehicle to give back. Working hands on with over 8,000 Monogram winners by enhancing our mission of community, legacy and service has easily been one of the great honors of my career. I have tried to live my life based on the core values of trust, love and commitment that Coach Holtz instilled in all of us during the 1988 season. I am grateful to the Monogram Club for keeping those values alive and well.”
Wes Pritchett (’89, football) (third from right) joined the Notre Dame men’s
golf team for a round of golf in Atlanta during the program’s 2016 fall break trip.In 1998, Lou Holtz, an honorary member of the Monogram Club, was bestowed the Club’s highest honor, the Edward “Moose” Krause Distinguished Service Award for his expansive charitable work that now includes the Lou’s Lads Foundation. Among its endeavors, the foundation, which is comprised of Holtz’s former Fighting Irish players and student managers, is the annual Lou’s Lads/Bread of Life Food Drive. The Monogram Club assists with the drive, which impacts individuals in over 200 cities across the United States.
The Monogram Club’s commitment to service and supporting its members comes in many forms and, unfortunately, it has been needed in trying times. Former Fighting Irish offensive line standout Dean Brown (’89) is one of nine players from the ’88 team who have passed away. Brown died unexpectedly in November of 2012, and through its Catastrophic Relief Fund (now called the Heaton Fund), the Monogram Club was able to provide assistance to Brown’s family in their time of need.
“The girls and I were moved and encouraged by the support of the Monogram Club’s Catastrophic Relief Fund,” says Dean’s widow, Brenda Brown. “On top of monetary assistance, they provided their prayers and kind words. This gave us hope and comfort during our time of loss. The girls and I are eternally grateful. Thank you to everyone who supports this fund. It was a blessing to our entire family and a representation of the generosity and compassion of the Monogram Club members.”
Community. Legacy. Service.