Sep 7, 2018, 11:40 AM EDT
This feature appears in the Notre Dame-Ball State game day program.
A number of Notre Dame athletic teams are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year and the Monogram Club is catching up with Monogram winners from those sports to get their reflections from their time as a student-athlete and how that impacted their lives.
Linda (Kohan) Wilson ’09 is a four-time Monogram winner with the Fighting Irish softball team, which celebrated its 30th anniversary season in 2018. Wilson graduated from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in finance, and she earned an MBA in 2015 from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Wilson joined the Monogram Club Board of Directors in 2015. She currently lives in Los Angeles and works for Goldman Sachs.
What attracted you to play softball at Notre Dame?
“I went on recruiting trips to other universities, but when you’re on the Notre Dame campus, you feel something. I remember Coach (Deanna) Gumpf said, ‘If you don’t have goosebumps, I don’t know if you should come here.’ It was like she knew because the hairs were standing up on my arm and I did have goosebumps. You know if you’re supposed to be here and you feel it because you want to be a part of it. The other reasons are, of course, the academics, the network that Notre Dame has that is second to none and the relationships. Coach Gumpf and the rest of the coaching staff for softball just really got it. They care about you, they care about the Notre Dame family and they care about your family. Winning is definitely important, but they also want to produce high-quality individuals to go on after Notre Dame and into the community. That was special to me.”
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Notre Dame?
“I always remember trips to the Grotto, especially being there with teammates. During tough times that’s where we’d go. My grandma passed away while I was here, and any health issues with my family, we always went to the Grotto. It’s a very special place and I always make sure to visit it when I’m back on campus.
“I also have great memories from the locker room. During my time here, it was exciting to transition to Melissa Cook Stadium. It’s such an amazing facility and being in the locker room with the girls, or out on the field, was always very memorable. Also, going through some of those workouts in the Gug or in Loftus with the team will always be memorable.”
What did it feel like to earn your first Monogram and become part of such an exclusive community?
“When you get awarded your first Monogram and your Monogram jacket you definitely feel two things. First, you feel special and feel like you are part of something that’s bigger than you. You know that you’re in this elite group of people that includes Heisman Trophy winners and Olympic gold medalists. Secondly, you feel this level of responsibility to go out and perform. To wear the Notre Dame jersey and perform for the University, and carry that on even after you graduate as a Monogram winner, is a big responsibility.”
How has being on the Monogram Club board enhanced your engagement with the University?
“It has been extremely special. Part of it is the connection with the student-athletes; being able to sit down with them and network with them, help them think about their career through the Monogram Career Network. Another big part of it has been helping the alumni. We’ve helped a number of Monogram alumni who graduated and played professionally in their sport or went on to do something different and want to make a career transition. They’ve been able to tap into the Monogram Career Network years after graduating, and we’ve been able to provide really great introductions and networking opportunities for them.
“The other thing about being on the Monogram Club board is that it’s really opened my eyes to all the resources the Monogram Club provides that I wasn’t necessarily aware of as a student-athlete or even as a Monogram alumni until I was more integrated with the board. I would always encourage people to get more involved and really learn about all the different resources that are available.”
How has your Notre Dame experience as a student-athlete and an alum lived up to the expectations that were set when you were being recruited?
“It has lived up to everything and more. I never would have imagined that I’d be so close to the University almost 10 years after I graduated. It was such a special place during the four years that I was here and it continues to be such a special place. I continue to meet people from different eras who were here years and years before me and I love hearing their stories. I also get to interact with current student-athletes and listen to their thoughts on academics and athletics right now. Those interactions continue to touch me and I hope it will continue to do so for the next 40 years.”