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Catching Up With Kate Markgraf (’98, Soccer)

Sep 28, 2018, 10:10 AM EDT

Kate Markgraf has been on the Monogram Club board of directors since 2009 and currently serves as second vice president.

This feature appears in the Notre Dame-Stanford Game Day Magazine.

A number of Notre Dame teams are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year and the Monogram Club is catching up with Monogram winners from each of those sports to get their reflections from their time as a student-athlete and how that impacted their lives.

Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98, soccer) had a stellar career with the Notre Dame women’s soccer team, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a varsity program. Markgraf helped the Fighting Irish to the 1995 national championship and went on to win a World Cup title (1999) and two Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008) with Team USA. She now enjoys a successful broadcasting career and serves as the second vice president of the Monogram Club. Markgraf is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class of 2018.

How did being a Notre Dame student-athlete impact your life the most?
“It refined my ability to multitask and develop broad-based skillsets. I was exposed to a bunch of incredible people and built a network that I’ll have for life. Those people pushed themselves so hard in the classroom. I also was around incredible athletes who did the same thing. Their work ethic deepened my work ethic, so it was a relentless pursuit of being my best. That is the biggest gift of being a Notre Dame student-athlete because the standard is so high.”

When you came to Notre Dame, the program was only in its seventh season. During your time, you went to four College Cups and won the 1995 national championship. How did it feel to leave such a mark on the program?
“You don’t know you’re doing that when you’re in it. There were people who took bigger chances to come to Notre Dame and an unknown program before I did. They were about two or three classes before me; they took huge risks to come to Notre Dame. That slowly started the domino effect where higher-caliber players were taking a chance on an unproven program. When I got here, we were collectively seeing how far we could actually get, not knowing if we could ever get there. We were good players, but I don’t think any of us were identified as the best. We weren’t recruited by the top schools, so we also had a chip on our shoulder. When you’re building something, you’re not thinking about the impact you’re having, you’re just trying to keep your head down and focus on building it to the best of its ability. In hindsight, I’m happy to have helped increase the notoriety of the program, but really the credit needs to go to the players that came before me. They took that risk to come to Notre Dame in the first place.”

Markgraf collage

Along with helping Notre Dame to a national championship, Kate Markgraf captured two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title with Team USA.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Notre Dame?
“A lot of it is around food, and it’s very little about on the field. It’s about our horrible diets. This was before sport science, obviously. I think sport science is very important, but we would have ice cream sundaes before games. We look back now and say, ‘What were we thinking?’. We could eat anything and be fine. That and the music in the locker room for the pre-game hype-up celebrations that every team has. Those are things I remember the most.”

What about your playing career are you most proud?
“The drive to see how far I could go and to face uncomfortable situations and keep moving forward. It was always exploring what areas of my game I could improve at and what areas I had to adapt as I got older and was a mom. It was that relentless pursuit of seeing how good I could get, and to see where my ceiling was. It was also doing that as a mom. I played three national team games with three kids and I won a gold medal with one. That’s probably what I’m most proud of, because not many women have done that.”

What has been the highlight of your broadcasting career to this point?
“I did the Euros in 2016. At that point, a woman hadn’t announced the men’s European Championship. I’ve also done a couple Champions League games and the Olympics for NBC. Those are the highlights. Anytime as a woman that you can call a high-level men’s game, especially the best of the best, that’s a huge honor and a huge responsibility to do it well so that you can leave the door open for others.”

How has your involvement with the Monogram Club strengthened your connection to the University and athletics department?
“My favorite thing about the Monogram Club is its dedication to fellowship and service. That service might be to the athletics department, it could be service to student-athletes or it might be service in the community. I love that it still connects me back to Notre Dame and reminds me of where I came from, but it also opens up different doors because the Notre Dame name. It allows me to give back when I can. What I also love about the Monogram Club is making our alumni network of former student-athletes as strong as possible and continue to grow it. With the globalization of our world, we have so many overlaps and we can all help each other out.”

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