(left to right): Elmer Kohorst ('57) and Jim Morris ('58) were honored on the field prior to the Notre Dame-BYU football game as members of the 1957 Notre Dame baseball team that reached the College World Series (photo courtesy of Mike Bennett).

Monogram Club Musings: BYU Edition

Oct. 22, 2012


BYU Weekend Photo Gallery

This football season, the Monogram Club will continue to produce the “Monogram Club Musings,” a regular online column following each home football weekend. The publication will fill Monogram winners in on Club events throughout the season, provide information on alumni and prominent figures that return to campus for the game and highlight Monogram Club presentations and activities that occur during the fall.

If you can’t make it to campus, but would like to update the Monogram Club on what you’ve been up to, please send an email to mlafranc@nd.edu and “The Muse” will include it in an upcoming edition.

This past weekend, the Monogram Club brought its members together with its usual slate of popular football weekend activities and welcomed back the 1957 and 2002 Notre Dame College World Series baseball teams back to campus for a unique co-reunion. The Muse was also present at the dedication of the new Castellan Family Fencing Center on Saturday morning.

Keep reading to find out more!

BYU Game Notes

– More than 200 dues-paying Monogram winners from all sports and support programs formed the pre-game tunnel through which the current Notre Dame team ran through as it took the Notre Dame Stadium field just prior to kickoff. The annual tradition continues to be one of the most popular benefits for dues-paying members.

– Notre Dame fencing head coach Janusz Bednarski led members of his 2011-12 men’s and women’s squads onto the field prior to kickoff to be recognized for last season’s third-place finish at the NCAA Championship. It marked the fifth-consecutive season the Irish finished at least third at the event. Bednarski and the Irish also celebrated the opening of the team’s new practice facility with a special dedication ceremony Saturday. Find out more later on in the Musings!

– Also honored in a pre-game recognition ceremony were members of the 1957 and 2002 Notre Dame baseball teams that reached the College World Series. A full recap of the baseball reunion is also included below.

– Saturday’s safety announcement from 2010 honorary Monogram recipient Sgt. Tim McCarthy: “Remember, having that one for the road could be on you.”

Sightings Around Campus

– Notre Dame football super fan Jon Bon Jovi made his annual trek to campus for Saturday’s game against BYU. The Grammy Award winner flashed his patented smile when the Band of the Fighting Irish played its own rendition of “Living On A Prayer” during the fourth quarter.

– World Golf Hall of Famer Sir Nick Faldo attended his first Notre Dame football game this weekend, while taking some time to meet with Susan Holt and members of the Notre Dame women’s golf team on Sunday. The six-time major championship winner and current lead golf analyst for CBS also attended Friday’s pep rally and enjoyed a meeting with Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly.

– NASCAR driver Todd Bodine attended the Monogram Club’s Friday night football reception in the Schivarelli Players’ Lounge and spent time catching up with some Irish gridiron legends. Bodine has competed on the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series over the course of his 26-year career and posted 37 all-time wins.

– Men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark welcomed back the program’s alumni to campus for an alumni tailgate on Saturday. Many of the alums watched the seventh-ranked Irish squad defeat Providence, 3-0, in the final home game of the season.

“There’s a great unity amongst our group – the ties go far beyond the years,” soccer Monogram winner Kevin Lovejoy (’81) said. “The 2012 team is having a great year and we’re excited to see how the season pans out.”

– The Monogram Club board of directors held its annual fall board meeting on Friday in the Monogram Room. During the meeting, president Dick Nussbaum (’74, ’77, baseball) welcomed five new directors to the board, who will serve three-year terms through 2015. The group includes Michael Bathon (’86, fencing), Laura Dougherty Ely (’85, basketball), Dennis Lahey (’65, wrestling), Lance Legree (’01, football) and Jen Sharron Richardson (’01, softball).

College World Series Team Reunion

A lot can change over the span of five decades, whether it be music, gas prices, or the way we talk (and surf) on the phone. But the Muse learned this weekend that even with a difference of 50 years, two collections of former student-athletes can have quite a bit in common.

Such is the case with Notre Dame’s 1957 and 2002 baseball teams, each of which banded together to reach the pinnacle of their sport: The College World Series.

More than 30 Monogram winners from the two squads came together on campus Oct. 19-20 to celebrate a unique co-reunion that truly achieved the Monogram Club’s mission of bridging the gap between legend and legacy. Over the course of the weekend, the players gathered together for a Friday night dinner at the Warren Golf Course, Saturday afternoon tailgate in the Joyce parking lot and a special on-field recognition prior to the football game versus BYU.

The ’57 guys in attendance returned to campus with their fully-grown children and grandchildren, while the ’02 players sported plenty of bottles and toys to keep their toddlers occupied during the weekend’s events.

But despite the contrast in age and family structure, the principles of teamwork, personal sacrifice and determination rang true with each player the Muse had the pleasure of speaking with.

The 2002 team faced its share of adversity right out of the gate. Featuring a solid core of nine seniors that had reached NCAA Regional action in each of their first three seasons on the diamond, the Irish fought a rash of injuries and struggled surprisingly with an early 9-10 record. The preseason No. 5 team in the nation needed a spark to get the year back on track.

“We came together as a team to make sure we wouldn’t go out that way,” consensus All-America centerfielder Steve Stanley (’02) said. “The rest of the year, we determined our players were going to sacrifice themselves and do whatever it could to win.”

The Irish caught fire after that meeting and went on to claim the first BIG EAST title in program history. From there, Notre Dame won five of six regional and super regional games to reach the College World Series.

Now, 10 years later, the team remains close.

“This is a group of lifelong friends,” catcher Paul O’Toole (’02) said. “A bunch of us talk a few times each week through an online forum and we enjoy keeping up with the current Irish team.”

The 1957 team sported a similar degree of camaraderie, and the Irish rallied over the course of the College World Series to reach what was essentially the semifinals (final four) of the tournament, an unprecedented feat for a cold weather baseball team at that time. Jim Morris (’58) hit an incredible .714 (10 for 14) over the course of the tournament, which still stands as a College World Series record for highest batting average.

“I always pulled the ball so for me, my fondest memory was a ball I hit to center field for a single,” Morris said. “I had two home runs and two doubles, but my fondest moment of the series had to be that single.”

During the reunion this past weekend, Morris was joined by captain Elmer Kohorst (’57), Bob Senecal (’58) and three other Monogram winners from the ’57 team. From the ’02 squad, co-captain Andrew Bushey (’02) and Matt Bok (’02) returned for the festivities, as well as starting middle infielders Steve Sollman (’04) and Javi Sanchez (’04) and Major League shortstop Matt Macri (’05), among others. Skipper of the 2002 Irish team and current LSU head coach Paul Mainieri was also in attendance.

Find out more about the ’57 and ’02 teams in this excellent piece written by Pete LaFleur that appeared in Saturday’s football gameday program.

Castellan Family Fencing Center Dedication

Senior fencers Phenix Messersmith and Danielle Guilfoyle hanging out in front of their new lockers in the Castellan Family Fencing Center.

In order to provide a championship-caliber facility that properly befits one of the University’s finest athletics programs, the Notre Dame athletics department and the Fighting Irish fencing program was pleased to host the official dedication of the Castellan Family Fencing Center Saturday morning in the Joyce Center.

The Muse was on hand during the festivities to check out the new facilities, and the venue is nothing short of spectacular. During the morning dedication, a number of speakers fondly recalled the fencing program’s former locker room, which consisted of a dark cage in a Joyce Center boiler room, with only a row of towels separating the men’s and women’s changing areas.

The new facility certainly improves upon those previous arrangements, as each Irish locker is now large enough to fit an entire fencer inside (check out our photos for proof)!

“This decision to build a proper environment for our team, our sport and our fencing program will have a great impact on the lives of our student-athletes,” head coach Janusz Bednarski said. “Other teams will certainly be jealous when they enter this building.”

The Muse ran into senior fencers Danielle Guilfoyle and Phenix Messersmith during the dedication open house, and with the amount of giggling that took place in just a few short minutes, it became clear that the duo was more than thrilled with their new digs.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” Messersmith said. “I’ve never dreamed of fencing in such an amazing place. Our program won eight championships in a boiler room, so anything is possible from here.”

Well said, Phenix.

Former Monogram Club board member Matt Castellan (’04, fencing) was a featured speaker during Saturday’s dedication, as his parents, Patrick and Concetta, served as the lead benefactors for the facility. Matt commented on how proud he was to be on hand to open the center with the Irish fencing community.

“We’re bound together by a deep, shared love for this institution, this sport and each other,” Castellan said. “We’re all sons and daughters of Notre Dame, but more specifically, the sons and daughters of Notre Dame fencing. We are family.”

To read a full recap of the dedication, click here.

Pre-Game Reception Alumni News & Notes

A strong contingent of more than 600 Monogram winners and their guests packed the Club’s pregame reception on Saturday afternoon to grab a hearty meal before the football team’s win over BYU. Monogram Club menu magician Karen Demeter took us to Italy with Saturday’s spread, which featured pasta with meat sauce or gorgonzola sauce, antipasto salad, breadsticks and brownies. Buon appetito!

Here are some of the Monogram winners we caught up with during the afternoon:

Robert Senecal (’57, baseball) came in from Kansas City, Mo., to take part in the Notre Dame College World Series reunion this weekend. The former vice chancellor of the University of Kansas is enjoying his retirement in the Sunflower State.

Paul Drucker (’65, swimming) attended the Monogram Club pre-game reception but left his graphing calculator at home in Northbrook, Ill., where he is a high school math teacher.

Retired commercial real estate attorney William Carson (’69, swimming) made the trek from Carmel, Ind., to take part in the Monogram festivities.

Clarice Kwasnieski ’81 (field hockey) joined us from Middletown, Del., where she is the director of admissions at her high school alma mater, St. Mark’s. She has two sons who attend Notre Dame and as a dues-paying Monogram Club member, she has enjoyed the help of the BBR Scholarship Program. Glad the BBR Fund is helping out, Clarice!

Stacey Noem (’98, fencing) joined some of her former fencers at the dedication of the new Castellan Family Fencing Center before heading upstairs in the JACC to the Monogram Club reception. Noem recently returned to South Bend to serve as a professor of theology in Notre Dame’s Master’s of Divinity Program.

Ryan Turner (’98, soccer) made the trip to South Bend from Scottsdale, Ariz., where he is a Family Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley.

Angela Foy ’01 (rowing) is a practicing attorney in Cedarburg, Wis.

New York City native Devon Hegeman (’05, rowing) took a break from her busy schedule as a high school English teacher in Queens to catch the Irish and the Cougars this weekend.

— ND —