The Monogram Club bestowed its Jesse Harper Award upon longtime Notre Dame swimming head coach Tim Welsh (honorary) during a reunion celebrating the 60th anniversary of the swimming & diving program. Former Monogram Club president Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming) presented the award to her former coach on October 19 during the reunion’s formal dinner inside Club Naimoli.
The Jesse Harper Award, which was established in 2016, recognizes Monogram Club members who have demonstrated a committed involvement with the Notre Dame Athletics Department and University. Welsh coached the Fighting Irish for 29 seasons before stepping down following the 2013-14 campaign. He guided both the men’s and women’s teams from 1985-95 before working solely with the men’s squad until 2014. Welsh returned to serve as interim coach for the women’s program in 2014-15.
His teams won 22 league titles (15 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, six BIG EAST Conference championships, one North Star Conference championship) and finished as runners-up on seven occasions (two in the MCC and five in the BIG EAST). Welsh’s squads won 45 BIG EAST Championship individual and relay events over their 18-year membership in that league. His men’s swimming student-athletes achieved 23 invitations to the NCAA Championships, gaining All-America honors on 12 occasions.
“There is no one who has walked this campus with a greater display of love for one another,” DeMaria said. “Tim recently shared with the American Swimming Coaches Association his philosophy on love and coaching. In Tim’s words, ‘When you coach, everything about your athlete matters. Their health matters, their attitude matters, their schoolwork matters and their friends matter. Everything matters. You coach swimming, but you teach life. Life is beautiful and it’s as hard as can be. It’s challenging and it’s rewarding. It’s just like practice. If practice isn’t hard, it doesn’t work. If it’s not beautiful, we don’t stay with it. If we don’t love it, we get out of the game. But when you coach, you love the people who are on your team, you love the people and colleagues who are in your sport.’ Tim, your words will inspire a new generation of coaches, and you have lived those words. We know that life is hard. We know that we have faced our challenges, but you have also shown us, through your love for us and your love for your family, that life is beautiful.
“Tim, you are a true Notre Dame man. And while you were our swim coach, you have taught us so much more than swimming. You have given us your greatest gift, and that is your love.” Watch Tim Welsh retrospective