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Bridging The Gap Between Legend and Legacy

Oct 2, 2013, 6:37 PM EDT

Monogram Club board member Byron Spruell ('87, '89, football) and women's basketball senior student-athlete Kayla McBride.

From presenting Brian Kelly with an honorary Monogram to hearing from University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76), an action-packed morning kicked off before the sun came up at last week’s Monogram Club Board Meeting. By the time lunch rolled around, some board members may have been ready for a nap on the quad.

Instead of some quiet time and a casual stroll around campus, the Monogram Club once again partnered with the Student Welfare & Development office for a more worthwhile event—a special luncheon with the Board of Directors, the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and student-athletes from Notre Dame’s Rosenthal Leadership Academy.

The luncheon provides a unique opportunity for student-athletes to network with some of the Club’s most active Monogram winners in an informal setting.

Executive Director Beth Hunter and Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development and Community Programming Mike Harrity led off the event with some opening remarks, before handing the mic to Stephanie Mola (’09, softball), who recently began working as the Student-Athlete Career Program Director, in conjunction with the Career Center and SW&D office (check out the video below to hear from all three).

Afterwards, senior track & field student-athlete Logan Renwick, who serves as one of SAAC’s Monogram Club Liaisons, gave a few instructions for a fun “Two Truths and A Lie” activity. During the game, student-athletes and board members shared a number of interesting facts about themselves (as well as a few fibs). For example, senior sprinter Chris Giesting sleeps with his eyes open (true), senior golfer Kristina Nhim has never been mini-golfing (true) and junior soccer student-athlete Max Lachowecki‘s father is the mayor of Evansville (false).

Prior to the luncheon, student-athletes were given the opportunity to request which board members they would like to sit with based on sport or career path. If you’ve seen any episodes of Grant & Max 1080°, you probably know that Lachowecki is quite the comedian, so he was excited to connect with Jen Sharron Richardson (’01, softball), who has been a member of the Jimmy Kimmel Live production team since 2003.

On the other hand, senior swimmer Frank Dyer decided not to write down any names, but rather just see which board members he ended up paired with.

“I actually sat with [Monogram Club president] Haley Scott DeMaria (’95), who I had never really personally met. It was great to just talk to people, and they genuinely care,” Dyer said. “They were once in our shoes, and they really do care about where we’re going to go, and how they can help us get to where we want to be.”

As he prepares for his final season under the Dome, Dyer has aspirations to continue his career in the pool after college, and he hopes that connecting with DeMaria, who lives in Annapolis, Md., might help him tap into the Baltimore area—a city that certainly would not be a bad place to keep swimming. After all, it is home to the most decorated Olympian of all-time.

Sophomore Katie Naughton (soccer) and SAAC president Jes Christian (track & field) shared Dyer’s sentiments about the event.

“[The Monogram Club luncheon] was a great time because we got to mix and mingle with the board members. We got to hear their stories and they got to hear ours,” Christian said. “We got to network with them, learn a little bit more about them, and get their contact information and hopefully create experiences and relationships with people that we can continue on into the future.”

(Note: Jes has eaten sushi with Andy Samberg and screamed “We love you!” to Beyonce during a concert, but has not spent time in the Barbados with Rihanna. Though by this time next year, don’t be surprised if she has turned that lie into a truth.).

“It was great because we got to interact with the board members and see how far they’ve come since they’ve been a part of the Notre Dame family,” Naughton added. “Just seeing that we can be one of them in the future is an awesome experience. I was really grateful to be a part of it.”

At the end of the afternoon, the student-athletes weren’t the only ones who had come away with much more than a full stomach and a few business cards. When the meeting resumed, numerous board members commented on what an impactful and enjoyable experience getting together with SAAC members has become for them as well.

Whether it’s building personal and professional relationships through events such as the SAAC lunch, or the simple act of the occasional congratulatory tweet for their accomplishments, there is perhaps no more powerful way for Monogram winners to have a positive impact on the University, to fulfill the Club’s mission, and to “bridge the gap between legend and legacy” than by taking an interest in the lives of Notre Dame’s current student-athletes.

For some, these opportunities might only come once or twice per year, but you can bet they are always much more meaningful than a siesta in front of South Dining Hall.

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