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    Monogram Club Holds Fall Letter Jacket Ceremony

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    5719151.jpeg The Monogram Club awarded letter jackets to 135 first-time monogram winners at the organization's annual fall letter jacket ceremony Tuesday night in the Joyce Center.

    More than 250 individuals, including student-athletes, coaches, parents and administrators, gathered in the Monogram Room to celebrate an important Notre Dame tradition, started by the Monogram Club three years ago.

    Although the organization has awarded letter jackets to varsity student-athletes since the Club's inception in 1898, a formal ceremony was implemented in 2008 to properly honor student-athletes for the competitive accomplishments to which only 8,000 individuals in the history of Notre Dame can stake claim.

    "Tonight is very special, as it marks an extraordinary milestone in the lives of these honorees," Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter said. "Through perseverance, dedication, and hard work, each of you has earned the right to become a part of the Monogram Club, which is certainly no small feat."

    After her remarks, Hunter introduced University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. Jenkins praised the student-athletes for their ability to achieve success on and off the field, often under a high level of scrutiny and attention.

    "I know and I see how hard each of you work," Jenkins said. "You're our most visible students, and the way you act and the way you carry yourself makes me proud and reflects so much about this University. You are ambassadors of Notre Dame in a very special way."

    While the letter jacket symbolizes athletic accomplishments and academic success while at Notre Dame, it also serves as a reminder of the tenacity and effort it takes for student-athletes to achieve in the professional world once their time at the University has come to an end.

    The importance of this memento was stressed by keynote speaker Kate Sobrero Markgraf ('98), a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008) and a member of the 1995 Notre Dame women's soccer national championship team. Markgraf provided color commentary for ESPN during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.

    "Notre Dame student-athletes know that to build a foundation to be successful in life and to develop a great reservoir of resilience, you must be challenged academically, athletically, socially and spiritually," Markgraf said. "You can become anything, and your experiences at this University will help you in every aspect of your life."

    Athletics director Jack Swarbrick ('76) took the stage after Markgraf to reflect on what the monogram itself symbolizes - how it's interlocking letters convey the strong, symbiotic relationships with coaches, family, friends and teachers that help Irish student-athletes better reach their academic and competitive goals.

    "Every one of those people is represented in a stitch of your monogram," Swarbrick said. "I want to make sure that every time you put on and wear the monogram, you remember all the people who helped you achieve it, and you thank them with your performance and the way you represent that jacket."

    At the conclusion of the formal program of speakers, Hunter welcomed faculty athletic representative Patricia Bellia to the podium, who invited the student-athletes up to the stage by sport. During the presentation of each group, coaches and administrators joined the athletes, along with Swarbrick and Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ('74 & '77, baseball) to celebrate the accomplishment.

    Jake Brems of men's lacrosse closed the ceremony by representing his fellow student-athletes with remarks about how shared values and experiences connect Monogram winners and bring the legacy of Notre Dame to life.

    "The spirit of the Fighting Irish manifests itself in everything we do - in our academics, our volunteer work and in competition," Brems said. "It is the pride in being a part of this community that places the group above the individual and integrity above winning. It is through the work that we do and the sacrifices we make toward a common goal that we find success as Notre Dame student-athletes."

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