A rising junior from Pasquerilla West Hall, Lynnette Wukie won her spot on the leprechaun lineup thanks to her passionate outlook and dedication to leadership. In her application, she cited her “need to lead,” as well as Pasquerilla West’s theme of “Powerful Women,” which she played a role in developing. As part of PW’s initiative, Wukie and her dorm mates set out to “empower every (woman) in the dorm to be proud of who she is” and have dedicated fund-raising efforts to charities supporting women.
The symbolism of her selection as the first woman and woman of color to fill the leprechaun shoes is not lost on her. As she said in a video accompanying her application: “Who says the Fighting Irish can’t fight like a girl?”
“I talked about being a role model (during the tryout process) because even through high school and into college, it’s always been important to me to be someone people can look up to,” Wukie said. “I think I hadn’t (yet) found that thing, like I wasn’t fulfilling my true purpose here to be that face and that role model, so when this opportunity came about I thought it was destiny. This is what I’m meant to be doing. … My rector told me, ‘Little girls are going to want to be you,’ so to be that role model for young women is really special.”
Wukie is a native of Elyria, Ohio, and is majoring in film, television and theatre with minors in business economics and musical theatre. She was a captain on her high school cheerleading and dance teams, and participated in show choir and musical theatre. Since enrolling at Notre Dame, Wukie has worked as a Digital Media Producer and Anchor for NDIgnite Connection with the Office of Outreach and Engagement and has interned with University Relations and Office of the Vice President, while also volunteering as a youth cheerleading coach and with at-risk children.
One of the finest point guards ever to wear the Notre Dame uniform, Niele Ivey joined the Fighting Irish women’s basketball coaching staff in May 2007 (she added the title of recruiting coordinator in 2012 and was promoted to associate coach in the summer of 2015). Ivey went on to spend 12 seasons under Coach McGraw before departing for an assistant coaching position with the Memphis Grizzles, becoming the ninth active female coach in the NBA.
Ivey was the common link between all nine of the school’s Final Four appearances (seven as a coach, two as a player). The St. Louis native worked closely with the development of the Fighting Irish point guards, while serving as the architect of the program’s remarkable recruiting success. In addition, Ivey made major contributions to game scouting and practice planning.
Ivey helped the Fighting Irish post a 386-55 (.875) record during her time on campus, including seven NCAA Women’s Final Four berths, six NCAA title game appearances, a 2018 national championship and 14 conference championships (eight regular season, six tournaments split between the BIG EAST and ACC).
Ivey played a key role in developing current WNBA stars such as Arike Ogunbowale, Jewell Loyd and Skylar Diggins-Smith at Notre Dame.
In 2019, former Irish soccer standout Kate Markgraf became the latest Notre Dame alum to take up a leadership position in professional women’s athletics.
Markgraf graduated from Notre Dame in 1998 after helping lead the Irish to their first ever NCAA championship in 1995. During the NCAA run, Markgraf was named the tournament’s defensive MVP as a sophomore. In her junior and senior seasons, Markgraf was a national player of the year finalist.
After graduating from Notre Dame, Markgraf played for the USWNT on a number of occasions — including on the famous 1999 World Cup team which won the tournament on U.S. soil — and won two gold medals (2004 and 2008) and one silver medal with the squad. After her playing career, Markgraf went into broadcasting. Markgraf also served as the second vice president of the Monogram Club, and is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class of 2018.
As the first-ever general manager of the USWNT, Markgraf will be responsible for choosing the team’s next head coach after Jill Ellis retired following the team’s World Cup victory this year. Markgraf will also be in charge of selecting coaches for the national youth team and acting as a liaison to stakeholders.