Sep 4, 2014, 6:24 PM EST
For the second year in a row, Notre Dame kicked off the season against the Owls. In 2013, Temple came to town, and last Saturday, the Fighting Irish welcomed Rice to the new FieldTurf at Notre Dame Stadium. Led by Everett Golson, the offense came out firing, and the Irish cruised to a 48-17 victory. Of course, the start of a new season also marked the return of the Monogram Club’s popular football weekend activities.
As we prepare for the big matchup with Michigan, here’s more on the season opener, as the Monogram Club Musings return for 2014!
Rice Game Notes
- As noted previously, the new Notre Dame Stadium turf made its debut. The turf was a gift of James A. (’57) and Leah Rae Morse, and was officially dedicated during a ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Jim, a former Irish halfback, captain, and the recipient of the Monogram Club’s 2004 Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award, has been a benefactor to his alma mater for many years, and also made a major gift to help underwrite the Coleman-Morse Center, among other University projects.
- Longtime swimming coach Tim Welsh, who retired earlier this year after 29 years of service to Notre Dame, was honored at midfield during pre-game festivities. Welsh, who received an honorary Monogram in 1996, was joined on the field by Monogram Club president Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming) and John (’86) and Steve Coffey (’87), captains of his first two Irish teams. Welsh was called upon earlier this week to serve as an interim women’s swimming head coach, after Brian Barnes resigned to focus on his family.
- As part of military appreciate weekend on campus, the national colors were presented by six individuals representing all who serve and have served in defense of our nation. Among them was Navy lieutenant Nick Possley (’08), a former walk-on receiver (pictured left).
- Saturday’s first traffic safety pun of the season from 2010 honorary Monogram recipient Sgt. Tim McCarthy: “Remember, any time your driving looks fishy, you could become the catch of the day.”
Sightings Around Campus
- More than 200 men’s and women’s swimming & diving alumni returned to campus for a special program reunion throughout the weekend. The festivities included an alumni swim on Saturday morning in the Rolfs Aquatic Center, as well as a post-game Mass and dinner in Club Naimoli.
- With the NFL season beginning a week later than college football, a number of young alums had the opportunity to return to watch their former teammates in the opener. Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (’13), Detroit Lions receiver T.J. Jones (’14) and Houston Texans defensive lineman Louis Nix (’14) were among those spotted on the sidelines.
- Former Irish offensive lineman Chris Stewart (’09), a future “Double Domer” completing his final year of law school, joined our very own Reggie Brooks (’93) and 2013 honorary Monogram recipient Jack Nolan on the Official Notre Dame Post-Game Show.
Monogram Club Events
New for 2014, the Club invited members to stop by the office on Friday afternoon to say hello, check out new Under Armour gear, try on the Irish football helmet, and enter to win exclusive Monogram merchandise. The “Monogram Kickoff” will continue throughout the season, and members are encouraged to swing by from 3:00 – 5:30 pm on Fridays before heading to the pep rally!
Once again, on Friday evening, the Club welcomed dues-paying football Monogram winners and their guests to the Schivarelli Football Players’ Lounge at Notre Dame Stadium for a post-pep rally reception. The Club was also pleased to extend the invitation to young alumni members for the season opener, and more than 200 guests visited the “Schiv Lounge” to enjoy a selection of appetizers and cash bar, visit the locker room, take photos with the Play Like A Champion Today sign, and check out the new turf field.
On Saturday, nearly 700 Monogram winners and their guests came by the Club’s pre-game reception in the Monogram Room to enjoy a tailgate-style lunch, and the cheerleaders and leprechaun stopped by to rally the crowd before kickoff. Also new for this season, the reception featured a brief speaking program and a visit baseball head coach Mik Aoki, who spoke about how the Monogram Club has positively impacted his program.
Earlier this spring, Aoki’s team visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, an opportunity organized by Brigadier General Bryan Fenton (’87, manager). Fenton, a Monogram Club board member, served as the senior personnel manager for head football coach Lou Holtz during the 1986 season.
As is tradition for every home football Saturday, the weekend concluded with a post-game Mass in the Monogram Room. Football team chaplain Rev. Mark Thesing, C.S.C. (’81, ’85, ’92) presided as nearly 200 guests wrapped up the afternoon of fellowship by gathering to give thanks.
This Saturday, Notre Dame takes on Michigan under the lights, with kickoff set for 7:42 pm on NBC. It’s sure to be another exciting weekend for the Club, and another heated matchup on the gridiron, as the Irish and Wolverines square off for the final time in the foreseeable future.
Make sure to follow @NDMonogram on Twitter for all the updates throughout the weekend. Go Irish.