The University of Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded letter jackets to 151 first-time Monogram winners at the organization's annual fall letter jacket ceremony Tuesday evening in the Joyce Center.
More than 300 individuals, including student-athletes, coaches, parents and administrators, gathered in Club Naimoli to celebrate an important Notre Dame tradition, initiated by the Monogram Club four 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.
"You are in very special and select company, as earning the right to wear the interlocking ND is extremely significant," Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter said. "Be proud of what you've accomplished tonight, because this is a very big deal."
After her remarks, Hunter introduced University of Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick ('76). Swarbrick took a moment to reflect on what the monogram symbolizes, and how it's interlocking letters convey the strong, symbiotic relationships with teammates, friends, and family that help Irish student-athletes better reach their academic and competitive goals. He also spoke candidly about the significance of the interlocking ND, and the perseverance needed to warrant such an elite honor.
"To earn a Monogram, you have to embody the University and athletics department characteristics of faith, community, tradition and competitive excellence - all the things that make Notre Dame athletics special," Swarbrick said. "You've done that, and don't take it for granted. Celebrate this remarkable achievement."
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 their lives and 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 Brooks Boyer ('94), a four-time basketball monogram winner who serves as senior vice president for sales and marketing for the Chicago White Sox. During his nine-year tenure with the White Sox, the team has captured a World Series title (2005) and set a franchise record of seven straight seasons with more than 2 million in attendance (2005-11). In 2008, Boyer was named one of Crain's Chicago Business "40 Under 40," recognizing 40 of Chicago's brightest and best business professionals under the age of 40.
"Receiving your jacket is just the starting point," Boyer said. "Right here, right now, you're starting over. It's not the jacket that's ultimately going to make a difference in you. It's what you ultimately do in that jacket. It's how you're going to carry on the pride, passion and tradition that's been set before you."
At the conclusion of Boyer's address to the student-athletes, 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 to celebrate the accomplishment, along with Swarbrick and Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ('74 & '77, baseball).
After the announcement of each team, senior rowing student-athlete Danni Schneider addressed her fellow student-athletes and spoke about the power of the Notre Dame monogram and what it symbolizes for recipients of the prestigious honor.
"Our status as members of this family does not fade when we finish our season or graduate," Schneider said. "This honor is just another way to remind us that we will always be connected to one another, those that came before us and those still to come."
The fall letter jacket ceremony recognizes student-athletes from Notre Dame's spring and winter sports, along with the student manager organization. Student-athletes representing Fighting Irish fall sports, as well as cheerleaders, student trainers and video technicians, will be honored at the spring ceremony in April 2013.