Jan. 20, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fencing head coach Janusz Bednarski has announced that the men’s and women’s fencing teams will dedicate their 2009 season in memory of Luke La Valle, a native of New York, N.Y., who succumbed to cancer after a 21-month battle on December 31 at the age of 30.
La Valle fenced with the Irish from 1996-99, earning four monograms and posting a 200-20 (.909) career record in sabre. His 200 career wins rank second-most in men’s team history, while his .909 winning-percentage is ninth best. As a junior, La Valle won the NCAA sabre title in 1998. At the Championship, he posted a 17-6 record on his way to becoming the 10th individual weapon champion in program history when he defeated Michael Golia of Penn, 15-11.
To help honor the spirit of La Valle, the team will wear rectangular patches with “Luke” inscribed in Notre Dame Gold thread on a black background. The text is showcased in bold Garamond, one of the official fonts of the University, and it is gold in order to symbolize the University that La Valle loved.
“We contemplated going with Luke’s initials on the patch, but realized that to his friends, family and teammates – past, present and future – he was “Luke,” and so the patch is,” Bednarski reflected. “The patch is meant to also symbolize the 1998 NCAA Men’s Sabre Championship and his warm personality,” added the seventh-year head coach.
La Valle is one of just 17 fencers to have attained All-America status in all four years of competition with the Irish fencing program. Aside from his first-place finish in 1998, La Valle finished fourth in 1996, fifth in 1997 and 11th in 1999. In his four stints of NCAA Championship play, La Valle posted 62 wins, seventh most in program history.
About La Valle, Bednarski said, “Luke was one the best fencers in the history of Notre Dame. It was not only that he won the gold medal in the NCAA Championship, but his style and intellectual capacity also contributed to his greatness. He had a great sense of humor and way of life; he was a true New Yorker, complete with true Fighting Irish spirit.” Bednarski was an assistant coach with the Irish during all four of La Valle’s seasons with the Irish.
In 1998 and 1999 La Valle was named men’s sabre MVP and he also won the Monogram Club fencing MVP in 1998. In 1998 and 1999 he was also captain of the men’s sabre squad. As a freshman in 1996, La Valle recorded 64 wins, the fourth most single-season sabre wins in program history.
La Valle is survived by his wife, Jen, and their daughter, Abigail Rose.
Many of Notre Dame’s student-athletes will wear the patch on their helmets, while the sabre competitors will wear them on the back of their helmets or on their gloves. The Irish will first showcase their patches when they take to the strip on Saturday, January 24 at the St. John’s Duals as Notre Dame opens its 2009 dual season Queens, N.Y.
The patch that the Irish will wear throughout the 2009 season.