10-year NFL veteran Jeff Burris '94 served as the keynote speaker.

Monogram Club Holds 2011 Spring Letter Jacket Ceremony

April 7, 2011

media-icon-photogallery.gifLetter Jacket Ceremony Photo GalleryNOTRE DAME, Ind. –

The University of Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded letter jackets to 78 first-time monogram winners at the organization’s annual spring letter jacket ceremony Wednesday night in the Joyce Center. More than 150 individuals, including student-athletes, coaches, parents and administrators, gathered in Purcell Pavilion’s Club Naimoli to celebrate an important Notre Dame tradition, started by the Monogram Club two years ago.

Although the organization has awarded letter jackets to varsity student-athletes since the Club’s inception in 1898, a formal ceremony was implemented in 2008 to properly honor student-athletes for the competitive accomplishments to which only 8,000 individuals in the history of Notre Dame can stake claim.

“Tonight marks an extraordinary milestone in the lives of our 78 recipients who are here,” Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter said. “Through perseverance, dedication, and hard work, each of you has earned the right to be a part of the Monogram Club, which is no small feat. You are in very special and select company.”

After her remarks, Hunter introduced University of Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick ’76. Swarbrick took a moment to reflect on what the monogram symbolizes, and how it’s interlocking letters convey the strong, symbiotic relationships with teammates, friends, and family that help Irish student-athletes better reach their academic and competitive goals.

“Take enormous pride in what tonight represents, but remember all the people who helped get you here,” Swarbrick said. “Earning your monogram is a spiritual journey, it’s a personal journey and it’s a family journey. It reflects your growth as an athlete, as a student and as a person, and I hope you wear it with pride because we could not be more proud of you tonight.”

While the letter jacket celebrates athletic accomplishments and success while at Notre Dame, it also serves as a treasured memento for student-athletes and a lifelong reminder of the preparation and hard work that continue to pay dividends once athletic careers at the University come to an end.

Keynote speaker Jeff Burris `94 (football) stressed the importance of valuing the skills gained during a career in athletics. A consensus All-American as a senior at the University, Burris was a first round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills and went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL.

“You talk about respect from others around the country or in any realm in which you go – being a student-athlete at Notre Dame means you persevered, you fought through adversity, and you did so with integrity and the characteristics that really matter for you as a person,” Burris said. “You didn’t come to Notre Dame to be average. You came here because you wanted to be great.”

At the conclusion of the formal program of speakers, Hunter welcomed Monogram Club First Vice President Dick Nussbaum ’74, `77 (baseball) to the stage, who invited the first-time monogram winners up to the podium by sport. During the presentation of each group, coaches and administrators joined the athletes on stage to celebrate the accomplishment.

Senior football student-athlete David Ruffer closed the ceremony by representing his fellow student-athletes with remarks about why earning a monogram serves as validation for the extraordinarily busy life student-athletes lead.

“We relish the opportunity to represent the Blue and Gold in a way only a select few can,” Ruffer said. “We put two days of work into one in order to compete at the highest level. It certainly isn’t easy, but that’s why we’re the Fighting Irish, and not just the Irish. We essentially have to live two lives, but nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”

Parents from all over the country attended the ceremony to see their children receive their jackets first hand, and many became emotional as the ceremony reached its conclusion.

NFL veteran and NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth was on hand to see his son, Austin, earn his first football monogram.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that my son would earn a letter jacket from the University of Notre Dame,” Collinsworth said.” It’s so much more than an athletic accomplishment. It represents something special on the field and something truly special off the field – the fact that he could survive and do well academically at this place -and I’m so proud of him for doing that.”

Spring 2011 Letter Jacket Recipients

Athletic Trainers
Derek Escalante Hartsdale, N.Y. Zack Martin Indianapolis, Ind.
Daniel Johansen Tracy, Calif. Emeka Nwankwo Miramar, Fla.
Bethany LoCicero Brookfield, Ill. James Redshaw North Huntingdon, Pa.
MacKenzie Nunez Tallahassee, Fla. Tommy Rees Lake Forest, Ill.
Elizabeth Pawlak Cleveland, Wis. David Ruffer Oakton, Va.
Patrick Rushford Naples, Fla. Chris Salvi Lake Forest, Ill.
Elizabeth Snow Granger, Ind. Kona Schwenke Hauula, Hawaii
Albert Toscano Pico Rivera, Calif. Ryan Sheehan Round Hill, Va.
James Uricheck Villanova, Pa. Prince Shembo Charlotte, N.C.
Christopher Skubis Clarence, N.Y.
Cheerleading Daniel Smith South Bend, Ind.
Charles Cossell Carmel, Ind. Thomas Smith South Windsor, Conn.
John Flatley Dunedin, Fla. Danny Spond Littleton, Colo.
Courtney Leader Granger, Ind. Robby Toma Laie, Hawaii
Colin McCarthy Covington, La. Ben Turk Davie, Fla.
Meghan McMahon Germantown, Tenn. Chris Watt Glen Ellyn, Ill.
James Sollitto Northbrook, Ill. Hafis Williams Elizabeth, N.J.
David Zimmer Angola, Ind. Cierre Wood Oxnard, Calif.
Lo Wood Apopka, Fla.
Men’s Cross Country
Mat Abernethy College Park, Md. Men’s Soccer
Martin Grady Burr Ridge, Ill. Craig Krzyskowski Western Springs, Ill.
Walter Schafer Centennial, Colo. Andrew Luttrell Granger, Ind.
Danny O’Leary Naperville, Ill.
Women’s Cross Country Kyle Richard Louisville, Ky.
Alexa Aragon Billings, Mont. Harrison Shipp Lake Forest, Ill.
Kelly Curran Bloomington, Ill. Grant Van De Casteele Plano, Texas
Meg Ryan Fairfield, Conn. Will Walsh Morristown, N.J.
Football Women’s Soccer
Steve Botsford North Barrington, Ill. Mandy Laddish Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Carlo Calabrese Verona, N.J. Adriana Leon Maple, Ontario
Brian Castello Pittsburgh, Pa. Kecia Morway Lake Villa, Ill.
Lane Clelland Owings Mills, Md. Jordan Snyder Dallas, Texas
Austin Collinsworth Fort Thomas, Ky. Elizabeth Tucker Jacksonville, Fla.
Patrick Coughlin Oak Lawn, Ill. Rebecca Twining Houston, Texas
Tyler Eifert Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Bill Flavin Darien, Ill. Video Technicians
Dan Fox Rocky River, Ohio Matthew Corcoran Stevens Point, Wis.
Michael Garcia Colorado Springs, Colo.
Mike Golic, Jr. West Hartford, Conn. Volleyball
Christopher Gurries Reno, Nev. Maggie Brindock Rockwall, Texas
Derry Herlihy Houston, Texas Sam Brown Albuquerque, N.M.
Bennett Jackson Hazlet, N.J. Sammie Brown Santa Barbara, Calif.
TJ Jones Gainesville, Ga. Andrea McHugh Yorba Linda, Calif.
Ryan Kavanagh West Chester, Pa. Andie Olsen Oakland, Calif.
Nick Lezynski Newtown, Pa. Nicole Smith Franklin, Tenn.

— ND —