Sep 8, 2015, 1:57 PM EST
Minutes before the Fighting Irish football team took to the field Saturday night for their season opener against Texas, several members of Notre Dame’s 1970 squad that downed #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl were given a great ovation when they were honored at midfield.
Once the cheering commenced for them it never really stopped over the next three hours as Notre Dame dominated the Longhorns, 38-3, to the delight of Irish fans everywhere.
Over 50 members of the ’70 team were in town taking part in a variety of festivities acknowledging the 45th anniversary of their phenomenal 10-1 campaign. On Friday evening, the former players, coaches and their families spent time reminiscing in the Schivarelli Players’ Lounge at Notre Dame Stadium before proceeding to the south endzone bleachers for a team photo.
The group assembled in an orderly fashion with one spot, which was front and center, that needed to be filled and only one man could do it. When Ara Parseghian arrived via golf cart he received a standing ovation from his former pupils and then took a seat among them.
The contingent then proceeded to the Monogram Room for a formal reunion dinner. Meanwhile, the Schivarelli Lounge remained open for other Fighting Irish football alums to socialize and visit their old stomping grounds.
Earlier in the day, the Monogram Club staff enjoyed seeing some familiar faces at the Club’s “Friday Kickoff”. Among those who stopped by was Monogram Club board member Jen Sharron Richardson (’01, softball) and her family.
Thankfully Saturday’s gridiron showdown was scheduled to take place under the lights because South Bend received storms and rain during the early afternoon. Those conditions forced the Fighting Irish baseball alums who were gathered for a reunion to take their swings indoors.
The Monogram Club’s first pre-game reception of the season was a popular event. Over 1,100 Club members and guests packed the Monogram Room and parts of Heritage Hall for the better part of three hours. After the Leprechaun and the rest of the Fighting Irish cheerleading squad led the group in cheers, Monogram Club Executive Director Brant Ust (’00, baseball) provided some remarks, including a friendly jab about a few burnt orange shirts making it into the room. He then turned it over to the featured speaker, former Irish and WNBA star Ruth Riley (’01, basketball).
Riley, the recipient of the Monogram Club’s 2015 Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award, updated the attendees on her current endeavors, which includes pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree through Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Executive MBA program.
Riley mentioned how she spent five of her 13 WNBA seasons in Texas playing for the San Antonio Silver Stars. She commented how she always heard that things in Texas were bigger and closed her speech by adding “Just because something is bigger, doesn’t mean it’s better.” She must have had a pretty good indication how that night’s game would turn out.
Riley was just one of many former Fighting Irish student-athletes who were at Saturday’s game. Numerous NFL players who used to don the blue and gold, including Kyle Rudolph, Golden Tate, Jimmy Clausen, Sergio Brown and Braxston Cave, were roaming the sideline as they enjoyed one final weekend off before their regular season gets underway in a few days.
Current NHL players Anders Lee, Erik Condra, Riley Sheahan and Ian Cole returned to campus for Notre Dame’s hockey pro camp. Earlier in the week, the Monogram Club had the opportunity to host a dinner for all of the professional hockey alums that were back in town.
NBA rookies Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant were in South Bend to be honored along with their former Fighting Irish teammates for winning the ACC title and advancing to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. The squad received their ACC championship rings, which were purchased by the Monogram Club, on Friday.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team was acknowledged during the game for making its fifth straight Final Four appearance and winning both the ACC regular-season and tournament championships.
Among the other in-game honorees was Notre Dame senior Molly Seidel, who captured the NCAA 10,000-meter title in May.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, there was a moment of silence for former University president and honorary Monogram recipient Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., as well as all former Notre Dame football players, coaches and others connected with the program who have passed away in the last year. The names of those individuals were scrolled on the Notre Dame Stadium message boards.
Monogram winner Joe Kernan (‘68, baseball) was among a group of former South Bend mayors who, along with current mayor Pete Buttigieg, presented the national colors in recognition of the city’s 150th anniversary.
With the Fighting Irish holding a 31-3 lead at the end of the third quarter the night’s only remaining question was how would the crowd handle no announcement from former Indiana State Police sergeant, and honorary Monogram recipient, Tim McCarthy, who delivered messages since the early 1960s and retired after last season. Luckily the fans were treated to a taped message from McCarthy.
The night concluded, as always, with the Monogram Club’s post-game Mass. Following his duties as football team chaplain, Rev. Mark Thesing, C.S.C., conducted the Mass for over 200 people inside the Monogram Room.
It was a successful weekend all the way around, including for Monogram Club social media as @NDMonogram notched its 5,000th follower! Be sure to track all of our social media channels to receive the latest information about the Monogram Club.
We’ll leave you with this …