Jul 15, 2016, 3:08 PM EDT
As part of the Monogram Club’s ongoing 100th anniversary celebration, some of the Club’s many connections to each Notre Dame program will be highlighted. This latest installment of the “Monogram Club Turns 100” series showcases Monogram Club ties and memories from several generations of the Fighting Irish cheerleading team.
Cheerleading Monogram winners who have served on the Monogram Club Board of Directors:
Anne Cisle (’74)
Mary Beth Sobolewski (’80)
Phyllis Stone (’80)
Margo Ball (’90)
Jessica Roman (’92)
Mike Brown (’01)
The first cheerleading Monogram winner was Bob Sanford (’40). Bob went on to serve as his class secretary for over 75 years!
“I always remember the thrill of running through the tunnel and leading the football team out on to the field. The old field house was an automatic echo chamber for basketball games. It was great!” – Bob Sanford ’40
“This photo was shot on November 28, 1959 at the ND – Southern Cal game. Of course, the Irish won the day thumping the Trojans 30 – 0. The dog in the picture is Mike. For years the Irish mascot was Mike the Irish terrier. We would take Mike on a lap around the field whenever the Irish scored. During my senior year, we added the little fellow in the green suit to the lineup, and I guess he has become the mascot. That crazy picture found its way into newspapers all over creation. Most captioned the thing with “His masters voice.”, which was the old corporate logo for the RCA corporation where the pooch was looking up into the speaker on an old Victrola.” – Joe Zellar ’62
“The spring of ’69 … Notre Dame decided to add the feminine touch to its cheerleaders. Approximately 40 brave souls began the process. Four of us were selected to embark upon an amazing journey into the male bastion of Notre Dame football. Molly, Missy, Annie and Terri – no coach, no choreographer, and a priest as our “boss” – we blazed our own trail and we had a great adventure.
The feeling in the pit of my stomach as we marched through that famous tunnel… is still with me today. Not knowing if we would be “booed” into humiliation or received with applause, we walked forward in our knee socks and saddle shoes to face the Notre Dame community with the best gifts we had to offer – our spirit, our enthusiasm and a true desire to make everyone proud of the first four women to grace the ND stadium.
Our male counterparts were very protective and even had blue/gold corsages awaiting us. The din of the ND spirit completely engulfed my soul as we stood before the student body and began our first performance. The special moment that consistently brought goose bumps was the playing of the National Anthem and hearing the music float into the center of the stadium… watching the stillness of 60,000 fans and two football teams … knowing that thousands of miles away in a remote jungle our peers were dying in a war … we were a part of history … a moment in time that can never be repeated.
The four of us were ambassadors of enthusiasm to a generation that was challenging every tradition, every authority and every new opportunity for women. When the Fight Song played, we let our hearts soar and we were momentarily whisked into a fantasy land.
So many memories … autographs, grunts and clashing of helmets in front of our faces, pulled hamstrings, friendships, clever routines from our not so clever choreography skills, handling the alumni who did not appreciate or accept our presence, handling the very lonely ND students who saw us as a ray of light, traveling without any budget, interviews with journalists, kind letters from Father Hesburgh, warm smiles from Ara, letters of gratitude from ND students that we never met, performing at the Law School….friendship … friendships and family that continue on to today.
My experiences as one of Notre Dame’s first female cheerleaders gave me an education beyond the classroom … an education of psychology and life that is with me every day. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this moment in time. “…and our hearts forever, love thee Notre Dame!” – Terri Buck ’72
In the early days, the cheerleaders sold megaphones and “rumper stickers” to raise money to pay for travel expenses. The stickers were sold for 50 cents to alumni by the cheerleaders who roamed the parking lots and campus during home and away games. The stickers were designed, copyrighted and sold exclusively by the Notre Dame cheerleaders and they were able to sell thousands of them.
“My favorite memories from cheerleading include the 1973 Southern Cal football game (Eric Penick’s fabulous run) which led to the New Year’s Eve ’73 Sugar Bowl where we beat Alabama for the national championship. Also – the 1974 UCLA basketball game where we broke their 88-game winning streak…
I will never forget sitting on a couch, drenched from the rain, my chin down, hands in my lap, pom-poms by my feet, in the Marriott in New Orleans, New Year’s Eve – emotionally drained after we won the national championship… someone came up and gently took my hands in his and said “Happy New Year, my dear.” When I looked up, speechless, and saw Father Hesburgh. He kissed me on the cheek!” – Shelley Muller Simon ’76
“As the final minute of our last home game was ticking off the clock in Notre Dame Stadium, we started to chant “Rudy, Rudy, RUDY…” Rudy was a classmate, a friend, and from Mary Ann Grabavoy’s (’76, cheerleading) home town, Joliet, Illinois. One of the characters in the movie Rudy is a composite, in part, of Mary Ann. We all knew Rudy’s story long before it was a movie. We watched it unfold in person. He really did sack the quarterback and he really was carried off the field.” – George McLaughlin ’76
As time went on, more and more sports wanted cheerleaders at their events. Two more cheer teams were added to support all of the Fighting Irish programs!
This video was produced by Pete Pranica for the 1991 cheerleading reunion.