Oct. 1, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The spirit of Notre Dame is an impressive, yet intangible force, rooted deeply in all members of the Fighting Irish community.
Domers often find it hard describe what it means to carry that spirit, but it’s present in the community service initiatives and acts of faith undertaken by the University’s students, alumni, clergy, fans and staff members.
While the spirit of the Fighting Irish can be powerful when present in one individual, when embodied by thousands of raucous supporters in Notre Dame Stadium, Purcell Pavilion, or any of the University’s athletic facilities, the resulting atmosphere is one that is unrivaled in all of collegiate athletics.
For 20 years, Jo Minton has served as the influential catalyst to bring that spirit to life, serving as Notre Dame’s cheerleading head coach and a mentor to the hundreds of Monogram winners she has guided during her tenure on the sidelines.
In recognition of the tremendous work she has contributed as a member of the Notre Dame athletics community, the Monogram Club surprised Minton with an honorary Monogram at the athletics department’s annual fall town hall meeting on Thursday in the Monogram Room.
Monogram Club board member and former Notre Dame leprechaun Mike Brown (’01, cheerleading) presented Minton with the honor and discussed the incredible impact she’s had on his life.
“Jo has committed herself to the Notre Dame cheerleading program no matter what the score is or what challenges she’s faced in her life,” Brown said. “She’s been an instrumental supporter of the athletics department and a true ambassador for the University of Notre Dame, and she’s done so with a contagious smile and a very caring spirit.”
Minton named Brown the first African-American leprechaun in the history of Notre Dame athletics in 2000, and he was initially nervous about how the news would be received by the Fighting Irish faithful.
“Jo had a conversation with me, and she simply said, `You have Blue and Gold blood like everybody else – don’t worry about a thing,” Brown said. “Jo truly does bleed Blue and Gold.”
Brown went on to become one of the most popular leprechauns in the storied tradition of the cheerleading program and was featured in interviews and appearances on NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, as well as stories in GQ, Jet, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today.
After completing his remarks, Brown welcomed Minton to the stage, along with Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter and president Dick Nussbaum (’74, ’77), to present the Grafton, W. Va., native with her Monogram.
From there, Hunter welcomed Minton’s daughter, Jaime, and a number of friends to celebrate the prestigious award with her.
“I’m very honored and proud to be a part of the Notre Dame community,” Minton said. “It gives me energy and I do believe we are a family because it’s been difficult for me to not have Notre Dame in my life almost every moment of my day. When you love what you do, you never feel like you’re going to work.”
Jonette “Jo” Minton was named the head coach and director of the University of Notre Dame cheerleading program in 1993. During her tenure with the Fighting Irish, she has produced hundreds of pep rallies, custom designed a number of Notre Dame cheerleading uniforms and served as a judge for a variety of cheerleading competitions.
Minton graduated from West Virginia University with a business degree and is certified by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators.
— ND —