Ruth Riley '01 looks on with athletics director Jack Swarbrick as her name is added to Purcell Pavilion's prestigious Ring of Honor.

Monogram Club Musings: Utah Edition

Nov. 15, 2010


Utah Football Weekend Event Photo Gallery

This football season, the Monogram Club will begin producing the “Monogram Club Musings,” a regular online article after each home football game. 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 mention Monogram Club presentations and activities that occur before, after and during the game.

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 and “The Muse” will include it in an upcoming edition.

This past weekend, Monogram winners made the trip to campus to take part in the Club’s annual pre-game football tunnel and to be on hand for the blessing of the new decade of student-athletes (2000-09) in the Ring of Names. The Muse was on hand for these events and at various functions for the women’s basketball reunion honoring the 2001 NCAA championship team.

Utah Game Notes

As Mike Collins announced the arrival of the Irish football team minutes before kickoff, more than 200 Monogram winners were there on the rain-soaked field, forming the tunnel to greet the football student-athletes as they began their 28-3 thrashing of #15 Utah.

Alumni Association executive director Chuck Lennon ’61 (baseball) presented the flag to the Irish guard prior to the game. Lennon will retire next June after 30 years as leader of the Alumni Association. Under his direction, the association has earned a national reputation for continuing education programming, community service, and expanded roles for minority, women, senior and young alumni.

During the third timeout of the first quarter, Monogram winner Amanda Polk ’08 (rowing) took the field to be honored for her recent gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in New Zealand. At Notre Dame, Polk was a four-time All-American who helped the Irish to four BIG EAST titles and two NCAA team appearances.

Honored at halftime was Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA championship women’s basketball team that celebrated its 10-year anniversary this weekend.

Women’s Basketball Reunion

Nearly a decade has passed since one of the signature moments in Notre Dame athletics history, when the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team defeated Purdue, 68-66, at the Savvis Center in St. Louis to win the program’s first NCAA national championship. Now, 10 years later, the members of that historic squad returned to campus this past weekend to celebrate that accomplishment once again.

Individuals who returned for the reunion included players Amanda Barksdale, Imani Dunbar, Erykah Haney, Monique Hernandez, Niele Ivey, Jeneka Joyce, Meaghan Leahy Palmer, Alicia Ratay, Ruth Riley, LeTania Severe, Kelley Siemon Deyo and Karen Swanson Haan; coaches Muffet McGraw, Carol Owens, Letitia Bowen McGuff and Heather Maxwell; plus managers/practice players Jaime Morales, Ryan Becker, Chris Dillon and Kevin Muempher. The only individuals not returning were Coquese Washington (now head coach at Penn State) and Kevin McGuff (head coach at Xavier) – with both their teams having games over the weekend.

The event kicked off with an autograph session for fans at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Then, a few minutes prior to the current women’s basketball team’s game against New Hampshire, Ruth Riley ’01 received a moving surprise, as she was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor in a special ceremony.

A banner honoring Riley’s number 00 was unveiled and now permanently will hang in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion, making her the first women’s basketball player added to the Ring of Honor, and the second player overall following last spring’s induction of men’s basketball All-America forward Luke Harangody ’10.

“What an honor, it’s totally unexpected,” Riley said. “This is just a great weekend to be back with my teammates, reliving some old memories and now having a lasting token of that is really special.”

The enhancements to the Joyce Center in recent years have impressed Riley, as well as the Notre Dame fans that have continued to support the team throughout the years.

“It’s amazing, the entire building is different,” Riley said. “I see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, which is cool to see. A lot of these fans have stuck around and been here supporting women’s basketball for at least 15 years.”

Riley is currently playing overseas in Greece, but she will return to the U.S. this spring to play another season in the WNBA with the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Riley was the consensus national player of the year during the program’s national championship season. In additon to her 2004 gold medal with the U.S. women’s national team, Riley also has won two WNBA titles (2003, 2006) with the Detroit Shock during her 10-year WNBA career.

Following the game on Friday, the reunion moved to the Warren Golf Course, where the individuals in attendance enjoyed dinner and a reception. In addition to a tailgate on Saturday, members of the team also attended a brunch on Sunday morning, hosted by coach McGraw.

The players, coaches and staff were recognized in ceremonies throughout the weekend, including a halftime salute at the women’s basketball game, where former radio play-by-play man for the Irish, Sean Stires, introduced each player onto the court. The team also made its way onto the field during halftime of the football game on Saturday to be honored in front of the 80,795 in attendance.

While at the game against New Hampshire on Friday, the Muse also caught up with Jeneka Joyce ’04, who was a freshman on the national championship squad. Joyce current lives in Oregon, where she’s completing her doctoral degree in counseling psychology.

“What I looked forward to most about this weekend was meeting up with everybody, because I haven’t seen all of my teammates and coaches in quite some time. So catching up has been amazing,” Joyce said.

Monogram Club Events & Activities

Fr. Doyle blesses the new decade of Monogram winners in the Ring of Names

Post-Game Mass

More than 250 Monogram winners attended the Club’s post-game Mass, which had a very special ending this past week, as athletics department chaplain Rev. Paul Doyle ’65, C.S.C., led the congregation onto the second-floor concourse of the Joyce Center to bless the new decade (2000-09) of Monogram winners in Heritage Hall’s Ring of Names. After Father Doyle’s blessing, he invited athletic alums from 2000-09 and their parents to take the aspersory (holy water bucket) and aspergillum (sprinkler) and give their own blessings. Needless to say, a number of family members and friends were the recipients of a friendly holy water sprinkling during the ceremony.

Pre-Game Reception/Football Lounge Alumni Notes

Tom Handrich ’80 (baseball) has been a school counselor for 30 years in Appleton, Wis.

“I love my job,” Handrich said. “I’ll always be motivated by the energy and positive attitudes of the kids I get to work with on a daily basis.”

Scott Zettek ’81 (football) owns his own distribution company in Wilmette, Ill.

Former basketball manager Joe Krug ’83 is a paper salesman in Springboro, Ill. The Muse checked to make sure, but Krug has apparently never met Michael Scott, Jim Halpert or Pam Beasley of The Office.

Mary Belanger ’86 (volleyball) resides in Orange County, Calif. where she is a stay-at-home mom for her three daughters, ages 19, 17 and 15.

Michael James ’86 (football) lives in Los Angeles, Calif. and works as an equity trader.

Mirko Jurkovic ’92 (football) swung by the Schivarelli Players’ Lounge and chatted with the Muse about his job as an analyst on the post-game show with Jack Nolan and fellow Monogram winner, Reggie Brooks ’93 (football).

When he’s not talking Fighting Irish football, Jurkovic resides in Granger, Ind. where he works as a territory sales manager for Stryker Orthopedics. Jurkovic has three kids, Mirko, Jr., Claire and Samantha, with his wife, Angela.

“As you get older and wiser, you tend to appreciate things more and more,” Jurkovic said. “I appreciate all the little things at Notre Dame as well as the people here, who are the best people in the world.”

Lee Becton ’95 (football) lives in Indianapolis and works for J.D. Byrider in Lafayette.