Jack Swarbrick presents Olympic fencer Lee Kiefer with a commemorative collage to celebrate her competitive achievements (photo courtesy of Mike & Susan Bennett).

Monogram Club Musings: Pittsburgh Edition

Nov. 5, 2012

Pittsburgh 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 12 of the 13 Notre Dame athletes who competed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Keep reading to find out more!

Pittsburgh Game Notes

– The pre-game flyover featured two F/A-18 Super Hornets, conducted by the Tomcatters of VFA-31, the Navy’s second oldest fighter attack squadron, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. The lead aircraft was flown by Lieutenant Chad Cronauer, the two wing aircrafts flown by Lieutenant Jeff Hanley and Lieutenant Commander Brian Kesselring, with ground coordination provided by Lieutenant Michael Hood.

– A dozen current and former Notre Dame student-athletes who competed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London presented the flag during Saturday’s pre-game ceremony. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx (’99) carried the flag to members of the Irish Guard, while the other Olympians followed close behind. Look for a full recap of the Olympians recognition weekend later in the Musings.

– Saturday’s safety announcement from 2010 honorary Monogram recipient Sgt. Tim McCarthy: “Remember, the reason we hammer about safety is to keep you from getting nailed.”

Sightings Around Campus

– Two famous Brewers – and no, the Muse is not referring to Anheuser or Busch – returned to campus this weekend as Craig Counsell (’92) and John Axford (’05) took in Saturday’s football game against Pittsburgh. Axford, the current All-Star closer for Milwaukee, recorded 35 saves in 2012, while Counsell currently serves as special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. Counsell, a South Bend native, played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball and was a member of the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Axford was a member of the 2002 Notre Dame College World Series team, which held a reunion on campus Oct. 19-20.

Tony Rice (’90), the quarterback of Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship football team, and current San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ian Williams (’10) signed autographs for Irish fans Saturday morning at the Notre Dame Experience in the north dome of the Joyce Center.

– Once again this past Saturday, 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie and former Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Hines Ward were part of the NBC Sports Network broadcast originating from Notre Dame Stadium.

2012 Olympians Recognition Weekend

The pageantry, adrenaline-pumping competition and global relationships formed at the Olympic Games make the event one of the world’s most popular sporting spectacles every two years. This past weekend, some of that unparalleled atmosphere was transferred to the University of Notre Dame, where 12 of the school’s 13 athletes who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London returned to be honored for their extraordinary achievements on the world’s stage.

The department of athletics and the Monogram Club were proud to host four current Notre Dame student-athletes, including Natalie Achonwa (Canada, basketball), 2012 bronze medalist Courtney Hurley (USA, fencing), Gerek Meinhardt (USA, fencing) and Lee Kiefer (USA, fencing). Also returning were eight former student-athletes, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx (USA, soccer), 2012 bronze medalist Candace Chapman (Canada, soccer), 2012 bronze medalist Kelley Hurley (USA, fencing), Selim Nurudeen (Nigeria, track), Amanda Polk (USA, rowing), Mary Saxer (USA, track), 2012 bronze medalist Melissa Tancredi (Canada, soccer) and two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2012 Team USA flag bearer Mariel Zagunis (fencing).

10-time Notre Dame All-American Molly Huddle (USA, track) was unable to return for the weekend festivities.

The athletes arrived Friday afternoon and many of them took in the Friday Notre Dame Football Luncheon, where Boxx and Zagunis served as guest speakers.

“At the Olympics, you represent yourself, your school and your country,” Boxx told host Jack Nolan during the luncheon. “My dream to become an Olympian started here at Notre Dame.”

After the luncheon, the Olympians enjoyed a reception in “The Commons,” the new Notre Dame student-athlete lounge in the Joyce Center. From there, the group was ushered down into Purcell Pavilion for the pep rally. After a video produced by the athletics department provided an overview of Notre Dame athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, the athletes walked out individually to be recognized by the capacity crowd. Set to the grand theme music of the Olympic Games, as composed by Muse favorite John Williams, the introductions ended with a rousing standing ovation from the Irish fans in attendance.

Saturday morning kicked off with an Olympian panel held for Notre Dame’s current student-athletes at the Compton Family Ice Arena. More than 100 student-athletes attended the event, which featured a lively discussion about the training and support system needed to compete at the elite Olympic level. The Olympians also told some exciting stories about living in the Olympic Village and rubbing elbows with LeBron James and other high-profile athletes.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBC international women’s soccer analyst Kate Markgraf (’98) served as the panel emcee and did a great job injecting insight and her trademark humor into the proceedings.

Here are some of the discussion highlights:

On training: “Training becomes a lifestyle. Everything you do in and out of the boat is part of a goal. You have to focus on the moment and not think about anything else.” – Polk

“I learned how to be productive and efficient here at Notre Dame, and that’s critical for your training strategy heading into the Olympics.” – Meinhardt

“When working toward a goal, there are going to be obstacles. How you respond is critical. When you get knocked down, get back up.” – Zagunis

On role models: “My mom doesn’t know anything about hurdles, but she always gives me hurdle advice.” – Nurudeen

On coaches: “You’re going to go through a lot of coaches in your life. For me, I try to remember the best lessons I learned from each of them, and take them with me during my career.” – Boxx

Unique medal insight: Boxx kept her medals in a cleat bag under her bed for a long time, before transferring them to a safe. However, the best spot the Muse heard of for medal storage had to be from Candace Chapman, who kept her bronze bling in an old sock before finally receiving her medal case from the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Once the panel was complete, the athletes returned to the Joyce Center to sign autographs and Olympic posters for Notre Dame fans as part of the “Notre Dame Experience” festivities in the north dome. The Muse checked in with each Olympian to ensure no carpal tunnel syndrome was developing, and is proud to report no wrist injuries during the hour-long signing session.

After presenting the flag during pre-game festivities in Notre Dame Stadium, the Olympians met with director of athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76) and University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. (’76, ’78) in the press box, before sitting down to watch the Irish victory.

All in all, it was a fitting tribute to the athletes who captured the hearts of Irish fans across the globe this past summer.

Pre-Game Reception Alumni News & Notes

A strong contingent of more than 500 Monogram winners and their guests packed the Club’s pregame reception on Saturday afternoon to grab some first-rate tailgate food before watching the Irish defeat the Panthers. Monogram Club All-Star staff member Karen Demeter brought back a menu that’s popular with our members, including mini burgers, bratwursts, macaroni & cheese and brownies/cookies. Delicious as always!

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

Janelle Reklam (’01, track) ventured up from Indianapolis where she is a physician’s assistant.

Detroit, Mich., teacher Brian Meter (’95, football) joined in on the Monogram festivities for the first time this season.

John Godfrey, M.D. (’93, swimming) made the trip to South Bend from Elizabethtown, Ky., where he is a physician of internal medicine.

Bob Neidert (’71, football) joined us from Stow, Ohio, where he works as a salesman.

— ND —