Feb. 14, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. -
As part of the Monogram Club’s 2010-11 regional outreach initiative, the organization hosted a pre-game reception for monogram winners prior to the Notre Dame-USF men’s basketball game on Feb. 12 in Tampa, Fla.
More than 70 monogram winners and their families made the trip from their sunny Florida homes to join former teammates and meet some new faces spanning five decades of Notre Dame athletics at the USF Gibbons Alumni Center. The Monogram Club provided a French toast brunch reception for the monogram winners, many of whom took in Notre Dame’s 78-55 victory over South Florida at the nearby Sun Dome.
“This reception provided a means for our monogram winners living in Florida to connect with each other without having to make the trek back to South Bend,” Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter said. “It is our hope that this event strengthened some long-term friendships and began some new relationships between our former athletes and their families.”
Many of the event attendees expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to discuss their Notre Dame student-athlete experiences with other local monogram winners and to attend the men’s basketball as a group to cheer on members of a current Irish squad.
“It was a great opportunity to reconnect and share a lot of Notre Dame stories,” Dennis Lahey ’65 (wrestling) said. “We usually have Alumni Association functions to attend but rarely do we have an opportunity to interact with other former athletes. We have a special bond, and it’s really great to come to a function like this and socialize.”
Lee Ayotte ’57 (basketball) chatted with the Monogram Club staff about how different the organization was during his service as a board member in the early 1980s, while Jim Carideo ’57 (baseball) told stories about his uncle Frank ‘31 who was an All-American in football for the Irish during his playing days. Carideo and Henry Valenzuela ’82 (baseball) also talked about their confidence in the new Irish baseball coaching staff led by Mik Aoki. The former baseball student-athletes will be in attendance to cheer on the current team as the Irish compete in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge in nearby St. Petersburg on Feb. 18-20.
The Tampa pre-game reception is part of the Monogram Club’s regional outreach program intended to help monogram winners bridge the gap between legend and legacy outside of the confines of Notre Dame. The initiative began with tailgates in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area last spring for basketball and lacrosse events and the year was capped off in November with a reception in New York City for 300 monogram winners and their families prior to the football game versus Army. The Monogram Club will continue the successful program in 2011 to reach out to its membership in other regions of the country.
-- ND --