April 4, 2012
Muffet McGraw approached her team this past week with a simple message: “Act like you’ve been there, before.”
It’s a difficult philosophy to adopt, especially with the hype that surrounds competing for a national title. But other Notre Dame teams – from Frank Leahy’s championship decorated football squads of the 1940s to the perennial College Cup-bound teams of Randy Waldrum’s women’s soccer program – utilized the mantra to achieve unprecedented success.
Indeed, the 2011-12 edition of the women’s hoops squad certainly showcased a great amount of experience and tact to earn a second-straight trip to the Final Four, and during their time in Denver, the Fighting Irish made an entire group of alumni – both subway and Domer – proud to sport the blue and gold.
The Monogram Club made the trip to the Rockies to support the Irish during their quest for the title and caught up with a number of local Monogram winners to get their take on the weekend slate of games. The Muse also spotted some prominent stars of the playing field and political office during the memorable jaunt to the Mile High City.
Sightings In Denver
– Both Baylor and Notre Dame featured a highly visible celebrity supporter during the NCAA Championship telecast on ESPN Tuesday night. 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III cheered on his fellow Bears from a courtside seat, while former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ’75 (M.A.) rocked a fashionable Notre Dame sweater while spiritedly clapping along to the Victory March throughout the contest.
– During a halftime stroll around the Pepsi Center concourse, the Muse ran into former NBA star and Evergreen, Colo., resident Keith Van Horn. A 1997 first team All-American, Van Horn led the Utah Utes to a No. 2 national ranking and a berth in the national title game that season, before being selected as the second overall pick in the NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Van Horn played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Sixers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, and Dallas Mavericks.
– Monogram Club football alumni relations director Reggie Brooks (’93) spent some time catching up with Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ryan Harris (’07) during the weekend and watched Notre Dame’s national semifinal defeat of Connecticut with the five-year NFL veteran. Harris also joined the Fighting Irish during the team’s behind-the-scenes tour of Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday evening. When Harris isn’t protecting Peyton Manning this fall, he’ll be working round the clock to continue his successful entrepreneurial career as the owner of a home medical services company.
Alumni Association/Monogram Club Pre-Game Reception
The Monogram Club partnered with the Notre Dame Alumni Association to throw a pre-game bash Sunday afternoon before the Fighting Irish dispatched of Connecticut in dramatic fashion. Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery was filled to the brim with Notre Dame fans and former student-athletes who enjoyed complimentary appetizers and a rallying speech from Alumni Association executive director Dolly Duffy.
Former track & field student-athlete Paul Du Vair (’88) was first to stop by our table with his family to pick up some Monogram Club swag. The Chicago-based Du Vairs planned a spring break ski trip to nearby Breckenridge months ago, but charted the women’s basketball team’s progress all season, and made sure to fit the national semifinal game into their schedule once the Irish officially made it to the Final Four. Now that’s dedication!
Jerry Wisne (’99, football) attended the reception with his daughter and joined wife Shannon Suddarth Wisne (’00, swimming) and their other children at open practices on Saturday afternoon. The Wisnes enjoyed the events and spoke with the Muse about ways to get Monogram winners more involved in the Denver area. The Chicago Bears drafted Jerry Wisne in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft and he played five seasons in the NFL at offensive tackle. Suddarth earned All-America honors in 1998 and earned four Monograms in swimming at Notre Dame.
Women’s Hoops Alumnae Update
Women’s basketball coaches at both the high school and college levels flock to the Final Four each year to network and catch up with old friends and colleagues at the WBCA National Coaches Convention. With so many former Irish hoopers involved in coaching, the Muse spotted plenty of Monogram winners in and around Denver.
– Ashley Barlow (’10) just finished her first season as an assistant at IUPUI and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Her main responsibilities as a rookie coach included day-to-day operation, practice planning and coordinating team travel. Barlow also worked specifically with the Jaguars’ post players and spent time teaching defensive principles with the full roster.
“Coaching has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience,” Barlow said. “I’ve sat back, watched, and tried to figure out as much as I can.”
Barlow was joined by former teammate Alena Christiansen (’10) who works as a marketing representative for Reebok in the Denver area.
– Denver native Katy Flecky Hendricks (’05) is a financial analyst for energy company Southwest Generation and was thrilled to see the Irish in the Mile High City. Hendricks enrolled at Notre Dame in 2002 when the women’s basketball program was starting to really hit its stride. She credits her time with the program as a major factor in where she is today.
“When I came in, the team had just won a national championship, so I had no idea what to expect,” Flecky Hendricks said. “But I really enjoyed it. Notre Dame has the most amazing fans, staff and alumni, and I’ll never be unemployed because of it.”
– Ericka Haney (’02) joined the women’s team on its tour of Sports Authority Field and also attended the Wynkoop Brewing Company reception. Haney was a junior on the 2001 national championship team and earned four Monograms during her career with the Irish. Haney currently teaches math at the Pine Crest School in Miami and also serves as the school’s girl’s basketball head coach.
– The Muse spotted St. John’s women’s hoops assistant coach Megan Duffy (’06) at a Final Four function and congratulated the former Irish All-American on the Johnnies’ spectacular season. The Red Storm ended Connecticut’s monster 99-game home winning streak in February and advanced to the Sweet 16 with NCAA Tournament victories over Creighton and Oklahoma.
Monogram Club Regional Rep Program
During the trip to Denver, the Muse had a chance to get to know Monogram Club Region 2 Representative George McLaughlin (’76, cheerleading). McLaughlin is responsible for keeping Monogram winners in his region aware of upcoming Club events, news, and updates on Notre Dame athletics, while planning functions for members in the area. The region consists of Colorado as well as parts of Montana, Utah and New Mexico.
The regional rep program, launched in March 2012, was established to help Monogram Club members stay active with the Club and Notre Dame athletics in areas across the country. While the Monogram Club will continue to host its normal slate of events on campus each year, it is the organization’s hope that this program will lead to more regional Monogram events in cities throughout the United States.
To find out how to get involved in the Regional Rep program, find out who your regional rep is, or just get more information about the program, contact the Monogram Club office at (574) 631-5450.
That’s all for this edition of the Muse. Check back in this spring for more editions of the Monogram Club Musings, and as always, GO IRISH!