As part of the Monogram Club’s ongoing 100th anniversary celebration, some of the Club’s many connections to each Notre Dame program have been highlighted.
This latest installment of the “Monogram Club Turns 100” series looks at how the Monogram Club and the Fighting Irish men’s and women’s fencing program have been connected throughout the years.
Fencing’s Monogram Moments
The men’s fencing team gained varsity status in 1934 and the women’s team became varsity in 1976. Fencing and tennis were the first two female varsity sports at Notre Dame. The men’s and women’s fencing program has produced six NCAA championships, 24 individual national champions and over 180 All-Americans.
Nine fencing Monogram winners have served on the Monogram Club Board of Directors.
Anthony Mandolini (’54)
Jim Johnson (’59)
Ray Pikna (’76)
Mike Carney (’79)
Elizabeth Bathon Brown (’80)
Susan Valdiserri (’84)
Michael Bathon (’86)
Kathleen Robert (’93)
Matt Castellan (’04)
Ray Pikna (’76) was the first fencing alum to hold a position on the Monogram Club board of directors. His term lasted from 1985-88.
Susan Valdiserri (’84) was the first female fencer to serve on the Monogram Club board of directors. Her term ended in 1988.
Michael Bathon (’86) and Kathleen Robert (’93) are the two most recent fencing alums to serve on the Monogram Club board of directors.
In 2009, Mike DeCicco (’49, fencing) received the Monogram Club’s highest honor, the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award. DeCicco guided Fighting Irish fencing teams to five national championships during his 34-year coaching tenure.
Yves Auriol was head coach of the Notre Dame fencing program from 1986-2002. He guided the Fighting Irish women to the national title in 1987 and Notre Dame won the combined NCAA championship in 1994. Auriol received an honorary Monogram in 2000.
Janusz Bednarski, head coach of the Fighting Irish fencing team from 2002-14, became an honorary member of the Monogram Club in 2006. Bednarski led Notre Dame to three national championships (2003, 2005, 2011).
Stephanie Myers (’12, fencing) received the Monogram Club Postgraduate Scholarship in 2012. The Monogram Club annually awards a $5,000 grant to one male and one female graduating student-athlete.
Patrick Ghattas (’07) was a three-time recipient (2005-07) of the Monogram Club Team MVP Award.
Alicja Kryczalo (’05) received the Monogram Club Team MVP Award all four of her seasons (2002-05) with the fencing squad.
Paul Cepak (’18, fencing) seen here (black shirt) during a “Life After ND” lunch this fall. The lunches are hosted by the Monogram Career Network (MCN) and the Student Welfare and Development office and bring together current student-athletes and Monogram winners across various industries and career stages. Cepak has been involved with the MCN, a network of Monogram Club members, Notre Dame alumni and other advocates of the University that can support current and former student-athletes throughout the career discernment process.
In October of 2016 the Monogram Club and the Notre Dame Athletics Department welcomed back some of Notre Dame’s Rio Olympians. That group included fencers Mariel Zagunis and Gerek Meinhardt, who were part of a special “Life After ND” lunch hosted by the Monogram Career Network and the Student Welfare and Development office.
Sisters and Olympians Kelley Hurley (’10, fencing) (left) and Courtney Hurley (’13, fencing) (right) attended the Monogram Club’s Shamrock Series Friday night reception this fall in their hometown of San Antonio. They are pictured here with Monogram Club staff member Reggie Brooks (’93, football).
The fencing team has utilized the Monogram Club’s team-hosting program, which funds educational or cultural opportunities for Notre Dame teams traveling for competition. Thanks to the team-hosting program the fencing squad attended the Blue Man Group in 2012 in New York City and saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in 2014.
The latest group of fencing’s first-time Monogram winners at this fall’s Monogram Jacket Ceremony.