May 28, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind – Each spring during Blue-Gold Weekend, Monogram winners from across the country venture back to campus for a few of the Monogram Club’s marquee events.
This year over 300 Monogram winners representing an array of sports and generations took part in the Monogram Club’s Annual Mass-Meeting & Dinner, the Blue-Gold pre-game reception and post-game Mass.
To open the weekend, Rev. Paul Doyle C.S.C, an athletics department chaplain, led Mass in the Monogram Room to pay tribute to deceased Monogram winners from the previous year.
Following Mass, Monogram Club President Marc Kelly conducted the Annual Meeting in the Monogram Room. During the meeting, five Monogram winners were confirmed to the club’s Board of Directors. These new board members will serve a three-year term on the Board through 2012.
New members to the Monogram Club’s Board of Directors are Pat Garrity ’98 (basketball), Ryan Leahy ’96 (football), Ken MacAfee ’78 (football), Kathryn Markgraf ’95 (soccer) and Terri Vitale ’95 (tennis).
Headlining the evening was the Monogram Club’s Annual Dinner in Sports Heritage Hall in the Joyce Center. This year’s dinner was full of tributes, surprises and excitement related to the future of Irish athletics and the Monogram Club.
Jack Swarbrick, director of athletics, opened the evening by speaking about the success the Irish have enjoyed during the past year both on the field of play and in the classroom. He pointed out this current success would not be possible without the Monogram winners who laid the foundation here.
“All of you in this room contributed to this current momentum.” Swarbrick said, “In the success you created while you were here and the contributions you continue to make, we are able to ensure this momentum of success will continue well into the future.”
John Heisler, senior associate athletics director, and Roger Valdiserri , former associate athletics director, took the stage for the biggest surprise of the evening. Heisler and Valdiserri shocked longtime sports information assistant Susan McGonigal by presenting her with an honorary Monogram.
“I’m speechless.” McGonigal said, “To me this is probably the best thing I could ever receive from Notre Dame. I thank you all very much and I am very honored to receive this.”
Dan Rahill also presented an Honorary Monogram to former Notre Dame football player and active member of the Notre Dame Club of Phoenix, Jim Rakers ’65.
During the Annual Dinner each year, the Monogram Club presents one of it’s members with its highest honor, the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award.
This year’s recipient was legendary fencing coach and academic advising pioneer, Mike DeCicco. During his 34 years as head coach, DeCicco amassed a spectacular career record of 680 wins compared to just 45 losses. He coached the Irish fencing program to five national championships and eight of his fencers won individual national championships.
In addition to his success as a coach, DeCicco revolutionized the academic world as well. In 1964, he started the academic advising program for student-athletes from scratch. This advising program was the first of its kind. He went on to head the Office of the Academic Advisor for Athletes until 1990. The office tutored athletes from all sports, expanding the influence DeCicco had on Notre Dame athletics to well beyond his fencing teams.
During his acceptance speech, DeCicco took time to look back and thank the man for whom the award is named for, his good friend, Edward “Moose” Krause.
“To have my name on a trophy with Moose Krause is an honor beyond measure.” DeCicco said, “I think Moose should be moved to the head of the class when talking about athletic directors and athletic administrators. He was a man that I loved dearly and whom I spent a great amount of time working with.”
As a salute to Coach DeCicco, former Notre Dame football player turned musician John Scully and his daughter Brit took to the stage to perform the popular Notre Dame song he wrote, “Here Come the Irish.”
To close the evening, Head Football Coach Charlie Weis spoke about the incoming recruiting class, spring football and the upcoming season.
“There has been an energy level this spring around Notre Dame football that I haven’t seen since I got here” Weis said, “Over the past three years we have played a lot of young guys. Now these young guys start to get a couple years under their belt and they now feel like it is their time, and as a coach I hope they are right.”
On Saturday afternoon while Coach Weis and his players made final preparations for the annual Blue-Gold Game, the Monogram Club held a pregame reception in a tent just north of Notre Dame Stadium. Hundreds of Monogram winners attended the lunch before heading into the stadium to get their first glimpse of the 2009 Irish football team.
After watching the Blue team defeat the Gold team 68-33, Monogram winners returned to the tent to conclude Blue-Gold activities with a post-game Mass. This year over 150 members attended Mass, tripling the attendance from last year. Mass was led by Athletics Department Chaplin Rev. Paul Doyle C.S.C. and was the perfect way to end Blue-Gold Weekend for many Monogram Club members.
To see pictures from the Monogram Club Blue-Gold Weekend Click Here