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The Memory of McGonigal

Jul 17, 2013, 9:57 AM EDT

Susan After Receiving An Honorary Monogram (Photo: Craig Chval Sr.)

This is a repurposing of a story that I wrote up on June 24th on the late Susan McGonigal, a former executive assistant at Notre Dame. In cooperation with the University of Notre Dame Development Office, the Notre Dame Athletics Media Relations office is trying to dedicate Susan inside and outside of Notre Dame Stadium to honor her work and outreach for the University. In just three months, Athletics Media Relations Director Bernadette Cafarelli has raised almost half the funds needed for the memorial. If you would like to donate to the cause, please contact Bernadette Cafarelli at

Here is the story…

    1. A few weeks ago I wrote in this exact space about Susan McGonigal, a senior assistant in the Notre Dame Athletics Department and Honorary Monogram winner for her service to the University. As some of you may know, Susan passed away in early spring after a long and tumultuous battle with a debilitating disease. Susan was the keeper of the Media Relations department for which she worked, everything went through her, she was the glue. If you needed something done, Susan was your first call. If you needed a laugh, Susan was your first call. If you needed some candy, Susan usually had some sort of sugar lying around. And if you needed someone to talk to, Susan was always there to listen. Every year, dozens of student workers from Notre Dame and other local universities work and help out in the Media Relations office and Susan would befriend many of them, helping out when she could, making everyone laugh at her dry and sometimes brash personality. Others, like myself and a few others that worked in the office during the summer were able to grow a strong and long-term bond with Susan.
    2. You are probably wondering why I am telling you this, but I promise I am getting to a point. Former media relations office assistant, Nick Bucholtz had always been one of Susan’s favorites. Everyday was great when they were together, Susan would call Nick ‘Pedal Boy’ because he once broke the pedal on his bike on his first ride on his new bike. They would go back and forth throughout the day, almost always with Susan getting the last word. Nonetheless, Dave Matthews Band was Nick’s favorite artist. That last sentence was an understatement, Nick’s whole life was about Dave Matthews Band. So one of the last time’s Nick drove the three hour trip from where he now lived to see Susan on a football saturday during the 2012 season, Susan told Nick “not to fret, because some day he would get to meet his heros”
    3. …Fast forward to last Saturday, Dave Matthews is playing in Noblesville, Nick’s hometown. After going to both shows (Friday and Saturday), Nick was walking around the concert venue after the show and who does he see – Boyd Tinsley, a violinist and one of the more popular members of the band. Giving Boyd a huge hug Nick went on to tell him about Susan, what she told him before she passed and what Susan and his time at Notre Dame meant to him.
    4. Susan meant alot to all of us, not just at Notre Dame but throughout the country. During my time at Notre Dame (since 2009), Susan was always changing me and helping me become better at my craft, but most importantly, a better human being. It was not on accident that Notre Dame went a perfect 12-0 in Susan McGonigal’s last regular season, just as it was not an accident that Nick was able to fulfill one of Susan’s last promises to him, one thing is for certain from this whole rambling story however … the Notre Dame family is a unique one, and will never be the same or as strong after the loss of Susan.

      The University of Notre Dame Athletic Department is seeking donations in memory of Susan to memorialize her in and around Notre Dame Stadium. If you would like to donate to the cause, please contact Bernadette Cafarelli at

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