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The Shirt 2006 to be revealed today

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, April 21, 2006

The Notre Dame community and Irish football fans around the country will see The Shirt for the 2006 football season when it is revealed today at the Hammes Bookstore – and decide whether it will usher in a new collection of knock-offs or once more unify the student section under one shirt.

Junior Rich Fox, president of The Shirt committee, said he believes students will like this year’s color and design.

“I think this shirt will be received very well by the student body,” Fox said. “It’s something I think everyone will be excited to wear.”

Fox estimates about 15 to 20 designs were submitted for The Shirt. From the beginning, a design created by junior Ryan Ricketts was the clear frontrunner.

“Ryan’s really stood out,” Fox said. “It really impressed me a lot.”

The Shirt committee decided as a group on the yet-unannounced color of this year’s shirt. Notre Dame students greeted last year’s yellow color with a largely negative reaction, inspiring a string of knock-offs with different colors or alternate wording and design.

Sophomore David Mauro said he did not like last year’s The Shirt.

“I’m not a big fan of yellow,” Mauro said. “It doesn’t really say football to me.”

Mauro said he trusts The Shirt designers have come up with a design and color students will appreciate after hearing so many complaints last year. He said he would prefer a return to the green hue of past years.

“If not green, then blue, but not yellow,” Mauro said.

The words and design of last year’s shirt did not have much appeal for sophomore Phil Drendall either, who called the shirt “ugly.” He said the words and the design did not represent Notre Dame well.

“I’m just really hoping it has more to do with Notre Dame,” Drendall said. “I don’t really care about the color too much.”

The Shirt Project, the largest student fundraiser at Notre Dame, began in 1990 to help a seriously injured international graduate student cover medical expenses. Since the start of the program, sales of The Shirt has have brought in over $3.5 million. Half the revenue of The Shirt goes to The Shirt Charity Fund, and the remainder of the funds raised from sales contributes to student activity fees.

Jed Hanawalt, assistant director for operations at Hammes Bookstore, said though there was a negative student reaction to The Shirt last year, it was still the best-selling edition of the shirt ever. He said he is confident The Shirt will be a popular purchase for next football season as well.

“It’s something that I think this year will really build that spirit and that tradition and that desire to be a part of this wonderful project,” Hanawalt said. “I think it’s going to be a very successful year for The Shirt.”

The Bookstore has made an initial order of 55,000 shirts, which Hanawalt said should last through this weekend and up to the first home football game. Hanawalt estimates the Bookstore will sell 20,000 shirts during the Blue-Gold game weekend.

“The following of The Shirt program is just so strong that I don’t foresee problems with it this year,” Hanawalt said. “I just think the fans are going to jump on board and really enjoy this year’s design.”

The unveiling ceremony, which starts at approximately noon today, will feature performances from the bagpipe band, the Notre Dame cheerleaders and leprechaun, the Glee Club and the Notre Dame marching band. WNDU sports anchor Jeff Jeffers will speak, and Coach Charlie Weis will make an appearance to talk about the upcoming football season. At approximately 12:40 p.m., The Shirt will be unveiled.

Hanawalt expects about 5,000 people will attend the ceremony, depending on the weather.

“I think there’s been more buzz for this unveiling than maybe in years past,” Hanawalt said. “We get questions about it every day.”

The Bookstore has been receiving orders for The Shirt through their website for the past several weeks.

Around campus, posters feature students in plain white T-shirts and ask “What will it look like?” and “What is its color?” are creating mystery and getting people excited to see The Shirt, Fox said. He said he thinks people are highly anticipating seeing The Shirt for the first time.

“What’s great about unveiling it on the Blue-Gold game weekend is there’s a football feeling to the weekend in general,” Fox said.

Sophomore Alison Frihart said she hopes she will like this year’s color and design more than last year’s. She said she brought last year’s shirt “for nostalgia,” but never wore it to a game.

“I think even though sales were still really high last year, [The Shirt Committee] kept in mind that the shirt was really not popular with students,” Frihart said. “I hope they’ve tried to come up with something that students will like more than last year’s shirt.”