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Kelly unveils ‘The Shirt’

Lesley Stevenson | Monday, April 22, 2013

The 2013 Notre Dame football season won’t officially begin until Aug. 31 when the Irish take on Temple University, but fans got a preview of the team’s excitement and tradition this weekend at the annual The Shirt unveiling ceremony and Blue-Gold Game.

On Friday, Irish coach Brian Kelly unveiled The Shirt outside the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore despite gray skies and snow. Students, alumni and fans gathered to see Kelly display the forest green design.

“I really, really like it,” freshman Allie Klein, social media commissioner for the Leprechaun Legion, said about the green color. “That’s something everyone was clamoring for, at least Twitter and social media-wise. … They wanted to kind of get [the color] back to the roots.”

After navy, bright blue and gold Shirts, green seemed like a natural choice for the 2013 Shirt, senior Dan Ogg, president of The Shirt Committee, said.

“We just felt like it was time for green,” Ogg said. “And after coming off such a strong season, it’s kind of hard not to go with something like this.”

Junior Betsy FitzGerald, assistant drum major in the Band of the Fighting Irish, praised The Shirt’s color and its potential for the student section.

“I think it’ll look really good in the student section,” she said. “Especially being in the band, you get to see how it looks as a whole, which is really cool to see. … I think it really embodies the spirit of coming back from the national championship.”

The 2013 Shirt features a paint splatter theme with gold and navy splatters under pictures of former Notre Dame players. The text reads “On the heels of legends we rise to victory.”

Sophomore John Wetzel coined the phrase, which freshmen design committee members Molly Howell and Abbey Dankoff then used to create the finished product, Howell said.

“We wanted something that was unique and special,” Wetzel said of the phrase. “So I started thinking about what would relate to the legendary feel but also be current, talking about what’s now.”

Howell said The Shirt Committee considered making The Shirt blue or a different shade of green. Ogg said more modern players were also considered in place of Ned Bolcar, John Lujack, Raghib Ismail, Tim Brown and John Lattner.

“We’re thinking legends, and [modern players] are not necessarily legends, so we went with throwback players,” Ogg said.

FitzGerald said this weekend’s events gave the marching band an opportunity to go through the motions of a football weekend without much pressure. Saturday’s Blue-Gold game also gave the seniors a final send-off while offering the new band leaders a chance to practice their new roles.

“It’s a lot of fun,” FitzGerald said. “We get to play around, and since it’s not too serious we get to play all the songs we want to play and not just the Celtic Chant eight times.”

For many in the student section, the Blue-Gold Game revolved more around friends and less around football, sophomore Christian Knight said.

“I’m going to miss it because I’m going to be abroad next year, but one of the main reasons I wanted to go was that it’ll be the only time I get to be in Notre Dame Stadium in 2013,” Knight said. “I have a bunch of friends who are going abroad who went for the same reason.”

Knight said the atmosphere on South Quad, including tailgates, cookouts and people playing football, enhanced the game-day environment even though the game itself was not the same as a typical home football matchup.

“To be honest with you, we kind of knew that it wasn’t for the football,” Knight said. “It was different. I didn’t really know the scoring system, but it was still a good time. It was also interesting to see freshmen, juniors and seniors all in the same section with us, and we didn’t have to sneak anyone in or anything.”

The game effectively generated excitement for the coming seasons, Knight said.

“I’m ready for senior-year football already,” Knight said. “Go Irish, beat Irish.”