Mike Berticelli, men’s soccer coach since 1990, died of a heart attack at his home in January. He was being treated for cardiomyopathy, a condition that enlargens and weakens the heart but was in good health otherwise and his death, at age 48, came as a shock. Survivors include his wife, Cinda, and two sons: Nino, a 1999 ND graduate, and Anthony, a junior. In his 10 seasons at Notre Dame, Beticelli’s teams compiled a record of 104-80-19 and participated in three NCAA tournaments. His three prior coaching stops included the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where his teams won the NCAA Division III championship in 1982 and 1983. University of Texas women’s soccer coach Chris Petrucelli, a former assistant under Berticelli at Notre Dame, who coached the Irish women’s team to the Division I national championship in 1995 said: “Everything I know in the game, I learned from him.” But Berticelli was more than an accomplished soccer coach. He was known for caring deeply about people – and not just his student-athletes. Memorial services held on campus and in his native Maine drew capacity crowds, and weeks after his death the athletic department continued to receive condolence letters and e-mails, which totaled in the hundreds. Berticelli had a great sense of humor and a joke he often told at banquets involved a young person who comes to him asking what advice he would give to someone considering becoming a soccer coach. First, he says, get a bag of marbles and go to the beach. Then put all the marbles in your mouth. Then remove them one by one and hurl each into the ocean. “How would this make me a better soccer coach?” the young man wants to know. “Because when you’ve lost all your marbles that’s when you’re ready to be a soccer coach.”
Father Richard A. McCormick, S.J., renowned scholar of medical ethics, died in February at age 77. He had been on emeritus status since spring 1998 and last summer suffered a stroke during operation that left one side of his body paralyzed. The Jesuit priest, who came to Notre Dame from Georgetown’s Kennedy Center for Bioethics in 1986 as O’Brien Professor of Christian Ethics, was “for many years the dominant American voice in Roman Catholic moral theology,” according to his obituary in the New York Times. Close friend and theology department colleague Rev. Richard McBrien described him as “probably the most distinguished American Catholic moral theologian of the 20th century” and “without question the leading medical ethicist and bioethicist in the Catholic Church.” McCormick was regularly called upon by Catholic hospitals to consult on everyday ethical issues. In addition to his scholarly works, he wrote for Catholic magazines like America and Commonweal and for the op-ed pages of The New York Times. He also made frequent appearances on television news programs to discuss both ethical issues in public policy and ecclesiastical politics. Born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of a physician who once served as president of the American Medical Association, McCormick became a recognized expert on the relationship of Catholic theology to such biomedical issues as in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, abortion, euthanasia and gene therapy. He supported traditional church views on many of these issues but wasn’t convinced Catholic teaching ruled out absolutely all forms of contraception and other practices related to reproduction. Because he taught only one seminar course each year, the priest did not have regular contact with many students. He was more of a scholar in residence. But he was not strictly a cloistered intellectual nor, in one colleague’s words, “some kind of academic drudge.” Every football weekend he would host a barbecue for friends in front of the house. In fact, the recessional hymn at his funeral Mass was followed by the Notre Dame Victory March.