April 30, 2007

Linda Demo, Sharon Petro and Frances Shavers – three women who have played integral roles in the growth of women’s athletics at the University of Notre Dame – today were presented with honorary monograms by the Notre Dame Monogram Club.

The presentations were made at a brunch concluding the 35 years of Notre Dame women’s athletics weekend gala, “A Generation of Inspiration,” by current Monogram Club president Julie Doyle.

Demo and her husband Paul lost their daughter Melissa, a former Irish softball player and 1994 Notre Dame graduate, in a 2002 scaffolding accident in Chicago. From the financial settlement resulting from the accident, the Demos contributed $3 million to help build a new softball stadium in memory of their daughter.

Groundbreaking for the new Melissa Cook Stadium, a $4.8 million facility, took place yesterday on the southeast edge of the campus. Raised in Merrillville, Ind., Cook played for the Irish softball team in 1991 and ’92, at second base, shortstop and catcher. She led the team in triples as a freshman and earned a monogram. An accountancy major, she was the controller for Teamsters Union Local 786 prior to her death.

Petro was one of the first female coaches and administrators at Notre Dame. She coached both women’s basketball and tennis at the University, chaired the physical education department and served as an assistant athletics director. She was the first Irish women’s basketball coach (1977-78 through 1979-80), leading a walk-on program to a 20-10 record and an AIAW national tournament invitation in 1980. The NCAA Division II national coach of the year in 1985, Petro coached the women’s tennis team for seven years, compiling a 114-45 record (fall seasons of 1977 and ’78, then 1980-81 through 1984-85). Her 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams won North Star Conference titles and finished third and second, respectively, in the NCAA Division II national tournament. She’s now a sports psychologist in Charlottesville, Va.

Shavers, currently chief of staff and special assistant to University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., began as coordinator of the life skills program in the Notre Dame athletics department in 1996. That program, now known as student welfare and development and recognized as one of the best in the nation, provided academic, personal and career support to Irish student-athletes. A 1990 Notre Dame graduate, Shavers received masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard before returning to Notre Dame. She now works closely with the Faculty Board on Athletics and other athletics initiatives through her role in the president’s office.

Among the approximately 200 recipients of honorary monograms include former Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C, and former Irish football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.