Nov. 13, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind. – Click Here to see photos from the letter jacket ceremony

Founded 93 years ago by Notre Dame athletics director Jesse Harper and his assistant Knute Rockne, the Monogram Club has offered Notre Dame student-athletes the opportunity to remain connected to the University, its athletics programs and core values.

Surrounded by family, friends and teammates, the Monogram Club welcomed 109 new members during its second annual Fall Letter Jacket Ceremony held in the Monogram Room.

“It was a wonderful event and a great celebration of some remarkably talented and hard working young people,” said Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins C.S.C. ’76.

For the first time, parents of the letter jacket recipients were invited to attend the ceremony, allowing them the opportunity to share in the excitement of earning a Monogram.

“My mom is my biggest supporter, so it was great that she and my dad had the chance to attend the ceremony,” said Notre Dame rower Megan Keegan, whose parents traveled seven hours to attend.

“Tonight was wonderful,” said Laurel Marmul, mother of Irish lacrosse player Jake Marmul. “I am very proud of him and the ceremony was special like everything else about this place.”

After a brief reception, the evening’s program commenced with Monogram Club President Joe Restic ’79 (football) welcoming those in attendance and congratulating the newest members of the Monogram Club on their accomplishments.

To bridge the gap between legend and legacy, Restic then presented a short video of his teammates Joe Montana and Ken MacAfee in their letter jackets. The video was shot following the 1977 national championship football season and each spoke about how special it is to be a student-athlete at Notre Dame.

“There is a lot of history at Notre Dame,” Restic said. “I wanted to let the new monogram winners know they are now a part of this history and in a select group of individuals.”

Restic then introduced athletics director Jack Swarbrick ’76 who chose to convey two thoughts. The first, he hopes each time a member wears his or her jacket, they represent the club and will do so with enormous pride. Secondly, that each new member to look at the interlocking N-D on the jacket, and realize they are a part of something bigger than just individual achievements.

“You are intertwined with so many others who helped to make tonight possible,” Swarbrick said to the new members. “Think back to what your parents, coaches and teammates have done to contribute to your success. All these people and many others are represented with the intertwining of the two letters on your jacket.”

Swarbrick then welcomed his fellow classmate Father Jenkins to the podium.

Jenkins, who received an Honorary Monogram in 2008, expressed how proud he is of Notre Dame student-athletes for their accomplishments in their respective sports and in the classroom.

He hoped the evening’s ceremony would symbolize those feelings and allow the student-athletes the opportunity to reflect on what they have done.

“This ceremony and this monogram represent a time which you should step back and be proud of yourself for your accomplishments,” Jenkins said. “You all represent this university in a special way and we are grateful for the ways which you do so.”

Rounding out the evening’s speakers was two-time Olympic gold medalist and four time monogram winner in soccer, Kate Sobrero Markgraf ’98.

“I jumped at the chance when I was asked to come back to speak.” Markgraf said. “When I went to school, getting your jacket wasn’t a very big deal. Now it is a big deal and I was honored to be a part of this.”

Markgraf reflected on her time as a student-athlete at the University and all the tools Notre Dame provided her to be successful on and off the soccer field. She hopes one day this group of student-athletes will have that same affection for Notre Dame.

“I hope 10 years from now one of you will be up here speaking” Markgraf said. “You are surrounded by the best right now, and hopefully it will help you to bring out your best. I have been fortunate enough to win three Olympic medals but the accomplishment I am most proud of is graduating from Notre Dame.”

Following an inspiring video about what it means to be a Notre Dame monogram winner, each team took the stage to have a picture taken in their new letter jackets with Jenkins, Swarbrick and Restic.

“Seeing Father Jenkins, Jack Swarbrick and Joe Restic here tonight along with so many former Notre Dame student-athletes made us feel really special and important,” said sophomore rower Morgan Kelley.

To conclude the program Randall Babb, a sophomore on the track and cross-country teams, offered a blessing.

Following the ceremony many of the new monogram winners stayed to take pictures with their teammates and friends who are members of other teams.

“This was a really nice event,” Keegan said, “I really liked having the chance to get my jacket with friends who play other sports along with my teammates.”

With a mixture of celebration, reflection and history of Notre Dame athletics, this fall’s ceremony was a great building block for the future of the Monogram Club.

“The letter jacket ceremony is a big step for the Monogram Club,” Restic said, “I think the event conveyed how important and special it is to earn a Notre Dame Monogram.”