At the recent 50th Reunion of the GREAT Notre Dme Class of 1966...

...Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick gave a wonderful presentation.  I heard him speak many times when I worked for him, but I felt he outdid himself on this talk, hitting all the right notes with our class.

In speaking about the marvelous academic achievements of many recent Notre Dame Athletes, Jack mentioned that a recent grad became the first ND varsity athlete to be named Valedictorian.  Here is this person Jack was referring to:

Anna Kottkamp named 2015 valedictorian

Anna Kottkamp, an environmental science major with a minor in international development studies from Wenatchee, Washington, has been named valedictorian of the 2015 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during the University Commencement Ceremony on May 17 (Sunday) at Notre Dame Stadium.

A member of the Glynn Family Honors Program and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Kottkamp has achieved Dean’s List honors each semester and has earned a 4.00 cumulative grade point average.

During her Notre Dame career, Kottkamp was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grant and traveled to Bolivia in the summer of 2014 to conduct a case study on an organization that works with small-scale farmers in the highlands of Bolivia. She also earned an Experiencing the World Fellowship from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies for an internship during the summer of 2013 in Peru where she worked on various projects, including the design of an environmental education curriculum.

As an undergraduate research assistant for Jennifer Tank, Ludmilla F., Stephen J., and Robert T. Galla Professor of Biological Sciences, Kottkamp worked as part of a research team on a watershed scale study about the impact of cover crops on agricultural streams. Her original work has been accepted for presentation at the annual conference for the Society of Freshwater Sciences in June.

Kottkamp is also a member of the varsity women’s rowing team. She began her career as a walk-on student-athlete with no previous competitive rowing experience and went on to earn a full athletic scholarship. She was selected for the Rosenthal Leadership Academy within the athletics department and was named an NCAA Elite 89 award winner, Atlantic Coast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete and ACC postgraduate scholarship recipient.

While at Notre Dame, she also performed as a member of the University’s Voices of Faith gospel choir and volunteered with several South Bend nonprofit organizations including the Catholic Worker House and Monroe Park grocery store co-op, where she served as board member.

After graduation, she plans to pursue postgraduate service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Hood River, Oregon, working at the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute in educational programming for fifth-graders. She intends to later enroll in an environmental science graduate program.

As most of you know, I have been working on a book about early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football.  The records in our Sports Information Office are quite incomplete prior to WWI, so I have enjoyed identifying previously unknown players (more than 20); correcting data about those early games; learning which of our early players were not actually enrolled at Notre Dame; and finding out the post-playing lives of these 365 men.

While reading through old issues of the SCHOLASTIC, I learned that four (4) of our early football players were selected as Valedictorians.  Here are mini-bios about these men:

(NOTE:  The March 24, 1923 SCHOLASTIC listed the criteria that ND had previously used to select the person to give the Valedictory.  It stated that the person chosen had “the combined merits of scholarship, personality, student activity, and oratorical ability”.)

1885    Sydney J. Dickerson

1893    Ernest F. Du Brul

1899    John F. Fennessey

1910    Jesse H. Roth


Dickerson, Sydney Johnstone

b. 1867, Denver, CO; d 9/12/1938, Manhattan, NY (71). 

At ND, 1882-1885, B.A., 1889-1890.  Lived with stepfather and blended family, in a home with four servants.   Commencement of 1883, won the Freshman Gold Medal.  Won the same award, the following year for the Sophomore Class.  In February, 1885, he delivered the “Oration of the Day” on Washington’s Birthday.  The SCHOLASTIC reported “The speaker was frequently interrupted with applause”.  Valedictorian of his class.  One part of his Valedictory contained words which will resonate with Notre Dame grads from all eras: “Our foster-mother, with loving fidelity and care, has done her part. From untutored and ignorant children she has reared us, directing our footsteps in the pathway of knowledge, inculcating in our hearts and minds the essential element of all true education—the notion and love of God.  Fondly and tenderly has she watched over our youthful endeavors,—here reproving, there commending; now advising, and again encouraging. But her task is now finished. With a mother's prayer and benediction she sends us forth. Forward we start on the troubled tide of life to combat its storms as best we can, and meet with confidence and intrepidity the "ups and downs of fortune."  Dickerson also delivered an oration on “Our Country”:  "Oh! America, what feelings of pride and joy swell our hearts at the mention of thy loved and honored name! Long mayst thou continue in thy onward course of progress, civilization and enlightenment, acting as a beacon light to generations yet unborn! Thy watchword shall ever be Liberty, Wisdom and Progress. All departments and channels of life at the present day— trade, politics, science, art, letters and religion— feel thy benign and salutary influence, and voicing the sentiment of the civilized world, labor to express the gratitude, admiration and wonder that thy wisdom, beauty and culture excite. Long mayst thou continue to develop looking with unabated vigilance and care over the interests and welfare of thy subjects, so that, year after year, as thou progresses in Science, in Art and in Religion, their hearts and sentiments, their love and  veneration may glow afresh at the mention of thy name. Old Notre Dame—our Alma Mater,—in this our country's march to the achievement of a still grander and a more glorious future, mayest thou continue to hold thy rank amongst the foremost institutions of this country. Long mayst thou live to be the tender mother of noble youths who shall go forth from thy portals each succeeding year to be Columbia's honored and trusted citizens, aiding and fostering her growth in times of peace, and supporting and succoring her in days of trouble!"  It was later reported “—Sydney Dickerson, '85, is prosecuting his law studies at Denver, Colo”.  October 19, 1889, elected Vice President of the Football Association.  Dickerson played the entire November 14, 1889 Northwestern Game, at LH.  The Irish won, 9-0.  That was our only game that year.   Attorney in Denver.  

Du Brul, Ernest Ferdinand 

b. 9/12/1873, Cincinnati, OH; d. 3/8/1954 (80), Cincinnati, OH.  5’9 1/4

At ND, 1888-1894, Ph.B-1892, M.A.-1894, LLB-1894.  Gave a Commencement Address “The Predecessors of Columbus”-1892.  According to the SCHOLASTIC, during the May 1893 visit of the Apostolic Delegate, “Mr. Ernest Du Brul, '93, read, with correctness and taste, the address in Latin”.  He also sang two vocal solos.  In June, 1893, he received a “1st Premium in 1st Latin and 1st Premium for Vocal Music” and gave the 1893 Valedictory Address.  Elected “Class Poet” of the graduating Law Class of 1894.  Graduate work in Economics, at Johns Hopkins University.  The SCHOLASTIC of 3/19/1898 reported: “Mr. Ernest F. Du Brul, a graduate of Notre Dame University and a member of the Xavier Lyceum, lectured last Monday afternoon before the Cincinnati Women's Club on 'Karl Marx and Socialism.' Mr. Du Brul is one of the most popular young Catholic lecturers of Ohio.”  Returned to ND to give lecture to the College of Commerce students on “Business forecasting”.  President of Miller, Du Brul, & Peters, manufacturers of cigar and cigarette machinery.  Authored a booklet, "Unintentional Falsification of Accounts"—published by the National Association of Cost Accountants.  As General Manager of the National Machine Tool Builders' Association, of Cincinnati, he delivered a 1929 lecture on the concentration of wealth.  He commented, in words which could have come from the 2016 Presidential Campaign of Bernie Sanders, “The main responsibility for unemployment and the need for long-term planning rests squarely on the shoulders of the managements of about 300 large companies.”  He estimated that 50% of the wealth of 150,000 financial institutions is concentrated in fewer than 100 of them.  Also wrote "Some Common Delusions Concerning Depreciation" in Mechanical Engineering.  President of Pyro Clay Products, manufacturers of fire-bricks.  Vice President of National Metal Trades Association and member or officer of many trade associations in various fields.  Board of Trustees, University of Cincinnati.  Lecturer-Xavier University, of Cincinnati.  Nine children.  Four Monsignors and five other Priests attended the wedding of his daughter, Marie.  When his son, William, was married in Detroit, the front page story of the Sandusky Star Journal described it as “A wedding of paramount interest to Sanduskians”.

Du Brul was our starting RT in 1892 and starting LH, in 1893.  He started four games, playing the entire contest three times.  He led the team in scoring, in 1893, with Six TD’s and Four extra points.

Fennessey, John Francis

b. 6/24/1880, Boston, MA; d. 4/11/1930 (49), Boston, MA.  5’8, 140.

At ND, 1893-1899, A.B.  Harvard University Medical School-1903.  A SCHOLASTIC note from 1900 indicated he “came out second in a class of one hundred students at the Harvard University Medical School in a competitive examination held recently”.  Assistant Professor of the Theory and Practice of medicine, Tufts College Medical School; WWI service.  Chief of Medical Staff, Carney Hospital, Boston (1919-1928). 

Fennessey was a four-game sub left halfback in 1897, scoring one TD.

Roth, Jesse Henry

b. 6/6/1888, Fowler, IN; d. 5/1/1951 (63), Tucson, AZ.

At ND, 1906-1910, Litt.B., Valedictorian.  Transfer from Marion Normal College.  One game sub end, in 1908.  Fowler was a town of 1,000 when Jesse was born.  It is in Benton Township, whose greatest two athletes were Notre Dame and Major League Baseball Star Cy Williams (who also played ND football, during my research period) and the Trotter, Dan Patch.  Roth was a fine track athlete.  Competed against ND, in 2/1911 track meet, while performing for the Illinois Athletic Club Team.  Attended Chicago College of Physicians and Surgeons, of the University of Illinois.  Passed Illinois State licensing as physician, in July, 1915.  Performed more than 300 eye surgeries in 10 months at Illinois Charitable Hospital.  WWI-Lt. Col., assigned to Army Hospitals in Nantes, France.  Eye, Ear, Nose, & Throat Physician, University of Illinois Medical School Faculty.  President of Kankakee, Il, Medical Society.

In addition, Notre Dame had a valedictorian who was close to being a football player.  Nicholas J. Sinnott delivered the Valedictory, in 1892.  While his brother Roger was a fullback, in 1893, future eight-term U.S. Congressman and Federal Judge Nicholas Sinnott did not get in a game.  Various accounts have indicated that he was a “scrub” (practice player).  He played on the Sorin Hall team which won the campus championship, in 1890.  The Sinnott family owned the Umatilla House, a luxury hotel, overlooking the Columbia River.  It was called "the best hotel west of Minneapolis and north of San Francisco".  Among the famous guests who stayed there were President Ulysses S. Grant, General W. T Sherman (whose sons attended Notre Dame during the Civil War), Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Edison, author Rudyard Kipling, Boxers John L. Sullivan and James Corbett, U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax (from South Bend), and writer Mark Twain.  

Go Irish!

Cap, 1966

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