Nov. 16, 2015
Although much of what the Monogram Club does is centered on alumni, the Club prides itself with what it offers current Notre Dame student-athletes, who, after all, are the future generations of the organization.
From presenting letter jackets and postseason awards to funding trips, networking and scholarships, the Monogram Club strives to have a presence and be a resource for student-athletes during their time on campus.
A prime example of this recently was on display at the fall letter jacket ceremony. Every fall and spring the Club hosts the ceremony where first-time Monogram winners receive their letter jacket. The jacket isn’t given as a courtesy in order to handle the impending South Bend winter, it’s earned through hard work and dedication and that achievement shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Monogram winners from past decades talk of the time when they unceremoniously picked up their jackets from the equipment room. The Club wanted to showcase just how special earning a Monogram is and that led to the establishment of the ceremony in 2008.
“When we award you this Monogram, we are not in any way awarding it to you to congratulate you on what you’ve done; we’re inviting you because you’ve earned the right to wear that Monogram into a very special place in this University,” Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick, an honorary Monogram recipient, stated at last spring’s letter jacket ceremony.
For many, the letter jacket is the first of many Monogram momentos. Those who attain additional letters receive stadium blankets (second Monogram), rings (third) and watches (fourth) courtesy of the Club.
Not too long after a student- athlete appears on stage to don their letter jacket, he or she may return to a similar stage in a year or two to collect a Monogram Club MVP Award. The Club honors an outstanding member of each Fighting Irish athletic team through the awarding of this accolade. The Monogram Club also purchases postseason gifts and conference championship rings for teams.
While those are important symbols of success, the Monogram Club also wants student-athletes to have experiences that will last a lifetime. The Club’s team-hosting program provides financial assistance to support educational and cultural opportunities for Fighting Irish programs while on the road. The Club recently funded three such trips during fall break. The diving team enjoyed Six Flags Over Georgia, the baseball squad visited the city of Santo Domingo during their venture to the Dominican Republic and the softball program took a bike tour of Paris during their European adventure.
“Our team is so appreciative of everything the Monogram Club does for us,” says Notre Dame softball head coach Deanna Gumpf, an honorary Monogram member. “Not only does the Monogram Club provide gifts for all of our players, they provide mentorship. The Monogram Club is the first group that our girls contact during their junior and senior years when they are looking at careers. Thank you for all you do for us and know how much we truly appreciate everything you do.”
The Monogram Career Network (MCN) is a recent addition to the Club’s repertoire of ways it enhances the student-athlete experience. MCN is a networking program that connects current Notre Dame student-athletes with Monogram winners and other supporters of the Monogram Club. Before departing for the Dominican Republic, the baseball team took part in an MCN event in Chicago where the players met with Monogram winners and other Notre Dame alumni from a variety of professional industries.
The MCN aims to deliver on the 40-year promise that is bestowed upon Notre Dame student-athletes. For some, the initial steps of that 40-year trek is graduate school and each spring the Club awards two $5,000 grants to graduating Monogram winners in recognition of outstanding academic achievement, service, leadership and potential for success in postgraduate study. The scholarships are presented at the always-popular O.S.C.A.R.S. gala, an event the Club assists in funding so that student-athletes can celebrate all of their successes together.
The final stage of an academic career is commencement and the Club wants to make sure Monogram winners go out in style. On Saturday of graduation weekend, the Monogram Club hosts seniors, their families, coaches and administrators for one final on-campus gathering at the Fourth Quarter Farewell. The Club also presents commencement stoles to the graduates so they can proudly wear the Monogram when they receive their diploma and embark on the next chapter of their lives.
From letter jacket to graduation stole and everywhere in between, the Monogram Club is proud to be part of the undergraduate athletic experience.
— Sean Carroll, Monogram Club Communications Associate