Joanne Norell | May 6, 2017
After more than a month to soak in the tremendous success of the 2016-17 season, the University of Notre Dame fencing team gathered for the final time Tuesday to reflect on and celebrate its run to its ninth NCAA Championship at its annual team banquet at Club Naimoli.
The Irish combined dinner with its team award ceremony, handing out 21 total individual honors. The 2017 NCAA Championship trophy took center stage, however, as the current Irish squad took advantage of the opportunity to revel together one last time.
The ceremony opened with a few words from Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick, who extolled the group for its resilience and embodiment of the department’s five pillars — excellence, education, faith, community and tradition.
“You embody all our values as well and as prominently as any program at this university,” Swarbrick said. “It’s for that, more than the championship hardware itself, that I want to thank you.”
Following dinner, head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia addressed the assembly, emphasizing the 2017 team’s unique attributes. Apart from the dominating nature by which the Irish took home the national title — biggest margin of victory of the program’s nine titles, first place in each weapon category, first place in each gender — Kvaratskhelia noted that what set this team apart from any other was its love for and commitment to one another.
“Everyone — everyone — deserves the credit for this victory,” Kvaratskhelia said, referring not just to the NCAA qualifiers, but to the entirety of the roster. “It was all about every single one of you guys being part of this group who made us better. … We achieved a closeness, a bond, that could not be broken, and that was unprecedented. Every team has a legacy and you guys were one unit with one breath.”