Sep 16, 2016, 10:22 AM EDT
NOTE: This story appeared in the Notre Dame-Michigan State football gameday program.
Since reaching the pinnacle of their sport 50 years ago, members of the 1966 Notre Dame football team have been prime examples of the Monogram Club’s motto of “Bridging the Gap Between Legend and Legacy”.
As the Monogram Club showcases some of its great moments, individuals and memories during its ongoing 100th anniversary celebration, there would be a void in that list of achievements if not for the ’66 squad.
This weekend, the Notre Dame athletics department and the Monogram Club will welcome many members of the team back to campus as they hold the 50th reunion of that magical campaign. Even though many years have passed since they hoisted the hardware, the gridiron greats have been heavily invested in Notre Dame and the Monogram Club over the last five decades.
Nearly every year since 1978 there has been a presence of the ‘66 team on the Monogram Club’s board of directors. Those individuals, along with the dedication and commitment of many other members of that team, have helped shape the Club into the industry leader it is today.
The team’s captain, Jim Lynch (‘67), joined the Monogram Club board in the late 1970s and following his three-year term as director, he entered the president rotation and served as Club president from 1983-84. Lynch later returned to the board as an advisor around the time some of his ’66 teammates were getting ready to make their own marks on the Monogram Club.
George Kunz’s (‘69) tenure on the Monogram Club board in the mid-1990s overlapped with Mike Heaton’s (’68) time as both second and first vice president. Heaton was Monogram Club president from 1999-2001 and he would go on to be the organization’s past president, legal counsel, and part of the past presidents’ council.
Heaton, along with ’66 teammates Jim Seymour (‘69), a Club board member from 2001-04, and Tom Reynolds (‘69), were instrumental in establishing the Monogram Club’s Catastrophic Relief Fund (CRF). The CRF is a need-based fund solely funded by donations made by Monogram Club membership to assist Monogram winners dealing with catastrophic problems of health and/or financial hardship. In January, the CRF was renamed the Heaton Fund to honor Heaton’s work on the fund during his time on the board.
The Catastrophic Relief/Heaton Fund fits perfectly with the Monogram Club’s commitment to service. In fact, the Club’s top honor is the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award, which is bestowed annually to one Club member who has gone above and beyond in giving back to their community.
Legendary head coach Ara Parseghian and two of his ’66 players – Dan Harshman (’68) and Justice Alan Page (’67) – have been selected as recipients of the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award.
Parseghian, an honorary member of the Monogram Club since 1964, received the award in 1998 for his work with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding medical research projects to find a treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C disease and related neurodegenerative disorders.
Harshman, who garnered the Moose Krause Award in 1987, was president and CEO of South Bend’s Logan Center for 33 years before retiring in 2011. The Logan Center helps individuals in the South Bend community who have developmental disabilities.
The Monogram Club was proud to recently announce Justice Page as the 2016 recipient of the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award. Page, a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice from 1992-2015, and his wife, Diane, founded the Page Education Foundation, which offers money and encouragement to students of color facing incredible barriers to attaining their educational dreams.
Helping Monogram winners fulfill their post-graduation aspirations is a high priority for the Club and that led to the establishment of the Monogram Career Network (MCN). The MCN is a networking program that connects current Notre Dame student-athletes with Monogram alumni; the ’66 team has also had an impact on this recently-established Monogram Club initiative. Frank Criniti (‘69) last spring hosted members of the Notre Dame men’s soccer team at Crowe Horwath, a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm, in South Bend during an MCN career trek day.
Another way the ’66 squad has connected with younger generations of Fighting Irish student-athletes is through Football Fantasy Camp, which the Monogram Club helps coordinate with the football program to bring back former players to serve as instructors. George Goeddeke (‘67) has been a favorite at Football Fantasy Camp for several years and Nick Eddy (‘67) joined him at the camp held this past June. Along with coaching up the campers, these returning greats get to visit, swap stories and impart wisdom on younger football alums and the current Fighting Irish squad.
It’s often said that choosing to attend Notre Dame is not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision. For many, including the ’66 national champions, the choice and its impact extends well beyond four decades. It’s clear that these legends have left a legacy.