Nov 17, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
The following feature was written by Monogram Club president Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming), and first published in the football program for the Notre Dame vs. Northwestern game on Nov. 15, 2014. During the weekend, DeMaria represented the Monogram Club and presented the flag prior to kickoff.
It has been said that coming to the University of Notre Dame is a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision. For former student-athletes, trainers, cheerleaders and managers, the Notre Dame Monogram Club is the fulfillment of that 40-year promise.
The Monogram Club is comprised of nearly 8,000 living alumni who have earned a varsity letter at Notre Dame. Throughout the fall, you have read profiles of some of our members in the game day programs. This week, I would like to share with you some highlights of our Club from my vantage point as president.
Our membership spans eight decades and our experiences as athletes at Notre Dame are just as vast. But, whether one was a scholarship athlete in the 2000s, or a walk-on in the 1960’s, there are common themes and bonds that unite us: the friendships, the traditions, the work ethic, the weather, our faith, and our unequivocal resolve to be the best, while doing things “the right way” as we strive to set ourselves apart in all the ways that matter at Notre Dame—athletically, morally, academically and spiritually.
As stated in the Monogram Club’s motto—bridging the gap between legend and legacy—the hallmark of our club is relationship building. From pre-game receptions before each home football game, to our postgame Masses to gather in prayer, every event is designed to promote fellowship and build relationships across sports and decades. Some of my closest friends in the Monogram Club include a 1974 baseball monogram winner, a 1989 lacrosse alumnus and a 1994 tennis alumna. I graduated in 1995 and was a swimmer at the University, but when we are together, our class year and our sport matter far less than the love we share for Notre Dame.
One trend that the Monogram Club has recognized in recent years is how challenging it can be to return to campus. Since the University attracts student-athletes from all over the country, and all over the world, our membership and alumni reflect this geographic diversity. As a result, the Monogram Club is working to increase our presence “on the road.” Oftentimes in conjunction with the Notre Dame Alumni Association and local Notre Dame alumni clubs, the Monogram Club will plan events for monogram winners across the country. We look forward to increasing these efforts in the coming years.
The inspiration for many Monogram Club programs and events is rooted in the experiences of the student-athletes—both our own, and those of our current student-athletes. One of the most exciting parts of my “job” as Monogram Club president is my interaction with the current student-athletes. They are amazing individuals, athletes, students, and people. There is perhaps no greater example of this than women’s soccer player and 2014 graduate Liz Tucker who recently was honored as the NCAA Woman of the Year, a first for any Fighting Irish athlete. Congratulations, Liz!
Last month, the Monogram Club board gathered on campus for our fall meeting. As always, our lunch with the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and student-athletes involved in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy was a highlight of the day. Planned with the Student Welfare and Development Office, these networking luncheons begin the process of that 40-year-promise—bridging the gap and building relationships.
While the luncheons are rewarding for our Monogram board members, the student-athletes also enjoy the interaction with professionals who have walked—or played—in their shoes. As Monogram winners, we know what it is like to juggle the schedule of being an athlete and being a student, and we know how well this will translate into success in their future careers.
The Monogram Club learns from the student-athletes as well. During our fall board meeting weekend, leaders from SAAC shared more about their year-long service project that kicked-off during fall break: building a home with Habitat for Humanity in South Bend. During the 2013-14 academic year, SAAC raised the necessary funds to partner with Habitat for Humanity; and throughout the 2014-15 school year, the student-athletes will build the home. The Monogram Club is so inspired by this effort, and we are brainstorming ways to not only continue to support SAAC in their community service efforts, but also to look to provide meaningful service opportunities to our members.
In 2016, the Monogram Club will be 100 years old. As we move forward and evolve into the next century, we will remember the tradition, the work ethic, the friendships, our faith, and our desire to be the best in all of life’s endeavors. Across the decades, across the sports, these are the common bonds that unite all athletes of Notre Dame.
– Haley Scott DeMaria (’95, swimming)