Sep 19, 2016, 12:22 PM EDT
Tony Rolinski, a member of the Notre Dame strength and conditioning staff since 1998, recently was awarded an honorary Monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club. The surprise presentation occurred September 9 inside O’Brien’s at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Following a ceremony honoring Fighting Irish hockey Monogram winners Ian Cole and Bryan Rust, who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2016 Stanley Cup, Monogram Club board member T.J. Mathieson (’04, hockey) began the recognition of Rolinski, who works directly with Notre Dame’s hockey and men’s basketball programs. There were current and former members of both programs at the event in addition to several Monogram winners from other Irish teams that Rolinski has worked with since arriving in South Bend.
“Tony Rolinski is a staple of character, commitment, dedication and, most importantly, service to the University, its mission and its student-athletes,” Mathieson said. “It’s absolutely evident by the sheer number of nominations the Monogram Club received for Tony from individuals across four different sports, including student managers. Each letter talked about the personal experiences they had with Tony and how he influenced their life on and off the playing surface.
“I had personal experiences working with Tony. The skills he taught me during my days at Notre Dame allowed me to have great success here and beyond.”
Hockey head coach Jeff Jackson (honorary) and men’s basketball head coach Mike Brey (honorary) then talked about Rolinski’s impact on their respective programs.
“Tony Rolinski has made a big difference in our program,” Jackson said. “He’s had a huge impact on so many young men, not just in their training, but in their life skills. He inspires me every day. He’s a mentor. He’s a coach. He’s a motivator and, most importantly, I consider him a great friend.
“We look at this great University and the great resources that we have here. You consider all the equipment and facilities we have here. You consider all of the things we’re adding nowadays in analytics and research in athletics and absolutely none of that has any value if you don’t have somebody who has the passion and the motivation to inspire young people. Tony Rolinski does it better than anybody I know.”
“When our former guys come back to campus one of the first things they ask is if T Ro (Tony Rolinski) is in,” Brey said to the crowd. “They always swing by and see T Ro. He’s had an amazing impact on all of these young men. We’re really proud of our culture as a program. Tony and I kid about four- and five-year guys and how we get them older and stronger. What he’s done in the weight room with our guys is an absolute clinic for other strength and training people. We consider him family. Jeff (Jackson) and I always talk about how he’s our MVP. I’m so thrilled that we have honored him with a Monogram.”
Brey then welcomed Rolinski to the podium to receive his Monogram jacket and official Monogram scroll.
“This is certainly something I never expected,” Rolinski stated. “This is a surprise. When I got into this business 25 years ago all I ever wanted to do was make a difference and I think I achieved that. I appreciate all of you. The relationships that you build over the years are why the great coaches do this. That’s why I appreciate this business and that’s why I appreciate all of you. I love when you call me and come back. The door is always open. I’m not a man with many words, but I know some of the athletes here might tell you otherwise. But, I’m very humbled. Thank you very much to everybody in this room.”
In addition to his duties with hockey and men’s basketball, Rolinski is responsible for the development and implementation of the strength and conditioning programming for 25 Irish sports. In 2010, he was named Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports at Notre Dame. His position is part of Notre Dame’s Sports Performance Program, an initiative that began at the start of the 2009-10 school year. The Sports Performance Program focuses on the areas of strength and conditioning, athletic training/rehabilitation, sports medicine, sports nutrition, sports psychology and equipment with the goal of assisting all athletic teams to achieve maximum athletic success.
In May of 2014, Rolinski received the highest honor given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession when he was named a Master Strength and Conditioning coach (MSCC) by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa). He has also earned certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS). Rolinski was honored at the Notre Dame hockey team’s 2014 postseason awards program, as he received the team’s Honorary Alumni Award.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rolinski received his bachelor’s degree in health education with a minor in exercise science from Penn State in 1991. He later earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh.
He and his wife, Julie, have two daughters, Allie and Jaclyn, and two sons, Jake and Jared.
Tony Rolinski has always been the strength behind the skill for us @ndmonogram athletes and it is only fitting that he is now officially in the club!! My success was always because my work ethic was paired with coaches like Tony who helped me maximize my potential. He helped build my character and persevering mindset as much as my strength. Tony challenged me to limits I did not know were possible and was a source of encouragement amidst any doubt or adversity. I know I speak on behalf of any @ndwbb @ndmbb @nd_hockey athlete and many more, when I say “thank you”!! Tony, we were all in better shape and are still better people because of you!! 🏋💪#TRo #Macy #dontbeasquirrel