Sep 16, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT
In 2009, Notre Dame began a new tradition of taking a home football weekend on the road. From a Friday luncheon and pep rally to service projects, Mass, and academic discussions, the “Shamrock Series” combines everything that makes weekends in South Bend special. For a few days each season, the spirit and fellowship that bring alumni back to campus year in and year out, is shared in some of the best cities in America.
This past weekend, Notre Dame headed south on US-31, taking the Shamrock Series, now in its sixth year, to Indianapolis for the first time. In recent years, Indy has hosted the Super Bowl, as well as the Final Four in both men’s and women’s basketball, and after this year’s Shamrock Series, it is easy to see why. Georgia Street and the surrounding downtown area provided the perfect setting for alumni and fans to gather in celebration of all things Notre Dame.
On Saturday night, the Fighting Irish took on in-state foe Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Led by Everett Golson’s two touchdown passes and one touchdown run, the gold & blue won, 30-14, to improve to 3-0 on the season.
As the Monogram Club continues to seek to expand its regional outreach, Club staff once again headed to the Shamrock Series, and took part in a terrific weekend in Indy.
Without further ado: the Shamrock Series Edition of the Monogram Musings!
The Monogram Club arrived in Indianapolis on Friday morning, where Executive Director Brant Ust (’00, baseball) and staff members Reggie Brooks (’93, football), Mike Sullivan (’09, manager) and Josh Flynt (’11) took part in the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Shamrock Series service project at Providence Cristo Rey High School.
Located in the Hawthorne neighborhood on the near west side of Indy, PCRHS is a private Catholic college prepartory high school for students from families with limited financial resources. From painting parking spaces and planting landscaping to removing an old fence and laying down mulch for a new playground, Notre Dame alumni and friends spent the afternoon on a number of projects to improve the exterior of the school, and the nearby Hawthorne Community Center. Other Monogram winners who participated included baseball alums Mike Dury (’07) and Matt Buchmeier (’02).
For some before and after photos, watch the video below.
Georgia Street served as the headquarters for the pep rally and fan fest throughout the weekend, as the good folks in Fighting Irish Digital Media pulled off arguably their most impressive live production to date. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, FIDM streamed nearly eight hours of live content.
The festivities included a number of musical performers, such as the Hunter Smith Band, led by the former Colts punter and 1999 ND grad, as well as interviews with several Notre Dame personalities. Among the former Irish football stars who came by the set were Rocket Ismail, Allen Pinkett (’86), and Tommy Rees (’14) and some of the other interviewees included University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick (’76, honorary), head men’s basketball coach Mike Brey (honorary) and head softball coach Deanna Gumpf (honorary), along with her daughter, Tatum, a leukemia survivor who served as an honorary captain for the game.
Brant and I kicked off our Saturday bright and early, participating in the Shamrock Series 5k, which began in front of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Close to 1,200 runners took part in the inaugural race, which helped benefit the University of Notre Dame Graduate School. On a chilly morning, members of the Band of the Fighting Irish were positioned on several street corners, helping push runners to the finish line, where we were greeted by the soundtrack from Rudy, of course.
On Saturday afternoon, Monogram winners and their guests joined the Club for a pre-game reception at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, located just a few minutes from Lucas Oil Stadium. Nearly 150 guests enjoyed a great selection of appetizers, including sliders, chicken tenders, spinach & jalapeno cheese dip, fresh fruit, and more. Special thanks to Monogram staff member Karen Demeter for organizing the event!
The restaurant’s basement billiards room was a great spot for the reception, which included a visit from the leprechaun and cheerleaders, and wrapped up just in time for the band’s step-off at Monument Circle and concert on Pan Am Plaza.
Though the pre-game reception was the final “official” Monogram event for the weekend, there were a few Club connections during and after the game as well. In the first quarter, FIDM’s Jack Nolan, a 2013 honorary Monogram recipient, interviewed Sergio Brown (’10, football) for the Lucas Oil video board. After beginning his career with the New England Patriots, Brown currently calls Indianapolis home, as a member of the Colts.
At the end of the third quarter, Notre Dame fan favorite Sgt. Tim McCarthy, a 2010 honorary Monogram recipient, offered an important safety message to the more than 56,000 fans in attendance: “Remember, do not let your day go down the drain by forgetting the safety plug.”
Just like last year at AT&T Stadium, Sgt. McCarthy sported his Monogram Club blazer for the pre-recorded video board message!
Following the Irish victory, Flash Gordon (’88, ’89, football) joined Reggie and Jack on the Official Notre Dame Football Post-Game Show.
Just like San Antonio, New York, Washington, Chicago, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area before it, Indianapolis proved to be another great location for the Shamrock Series weekend. Next year, Boston and historic Fenway Park will play host to the game, before the series returns to San Antonio in 2016. I’ve had the opportunity to attend the past five Shamrock Series weekends, which seem to continue to get better year after year. I look forward to the Shamrock Series each season, and the weekend may be my favorite new Notre Dame tradition. Not to mention, the Fighting Irish are now 6-0 all-time in those games…
Notre Dame has a bye this week, before heading to MetLife Stadium for a matchup with Syracuse on Saturday, Sept. 27 (8 pm on ABC). The Musings will return following the Stanford game back at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 4. For now, here’s one last recap from Indy, via the University of Notre Dame video team!