With winter sports in postseason play, and the spring seasons in full swing, there's perhaps no busier time of year than March and April for the Fighting Irish athletic programs. The Monogram Club recently ventured to Dayton, Ohio and The Big Easy to support the Irish men's and women's hoops teams in the NCAA tournament.
Manager of Monogram/Football Alumni Relations Reggie Brooks ('93) and membership coordinator Mike Sullivan ('09) made the drive from South Bend to Ohio, where the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Notre Dame Club of Dayton hosted a reception at the Dublin Pub, prior to the Irish's game against Iowa State.
Among those in attendance were hockey Monogram winner Jamie Ling ('96), football alums Kevin McDonnell ('99) and Kevin Griffith ('82) and former student managers Joe Krug ('83) and Pat McDowell ('10). Jamie and his wife, Beth ('97), are co-presidents of the Dayton club and helped organize the event.
Two weeks later, the Monogram Club followed Muffet McGraw's squad to its third straight Final Four. After visits to Indianapolis in 2011 and Denver last season, this year's trip took to the Bayou State.
Hosted by the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Notre Dame Club of New Orleans on the spacious second floor of Walk-on's Bistreaux & Bar, more than 200 fans, alumni and Monogram winners enjoyed food, drinks and good company in the hours leading up to tip-off against Connecticut.
Several Monogram winners stopped by to say hello and pick up some Monogram Club gear including Kathleen Vogt Robert ('93, fencing), Benny Guilbeaux ('99, football), Tom Henzler ('76, fencing), Mike Read ('65, honorary), Emily Light ('09, student manager) and Meghan Keefe ('10, student trainer).
The highlight of the afternoon was the surprise visit from the Notre Dame band, cheerleaders and leprechaun, who got the crowd going with a rousing rendition of the Victory March.
Alumni association executive director Dolly Duffy also rallied the fans, thanking cheerleading coach Jo Minton (2012 honorary Monogram recipient) and band director Sam Sanchez for all of their efforts.
Though fans' fervent spirit could not lift Notre Dame to a semifinal victory, donned in the signature lime green, the Irish faithful made their presence felt in New Orleans Arena.
As always, there was a great deal of support from Irish basketball alums at the game, as many former players made the trip. Among them were Sara Liebscher ('91), Ruth Riley ('01), Megan Duffy ('06), Courtney LaVere ('06) and recent graduates Erica Williamson ('10), Ashley Barlow ('10), Lindsay Schrader ('10), Devereaux Peters ('11), Fraderica Miller ('12) and Natalie Novosel ('12). Reese Carol LaBar Director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes and 2012 honorary Monogram recipient Pat Holmes ('79) was also in the crowd cheering on the Irish.
While we're on the subject of hoops, it's worth noting that Fighting Irish Digital Media recently paired with 3 Penny Films to produce a pair of specials for NBC Sports Network, both of which are now available on YouTube. Reinvention: Notre Dame Men's Basketball Blueprint for Success follows Mike Brey's team during the memorable five-overtime win over Louisville, as well as throughout the BIG EAST tournament in New York City. A Tradition of Excellence: Notre Dame Women's Basketball looks inside the Irish's incredible season, including the three-overtime epic against Connecticut in the regular season finale.