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21st annual Shirt revealed

Tony Rivera | Monday, April 26, 2010

As the veil from the top of Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore fell Friday afternoon to reveal the new design for the 2010 Shirt Project, head football coach Brian Kelly stood in front of the large crowd of students with one message to give:

“We are the Fighting Irish!”

As the crowd cheered back, this classic football phrase was now the theme to the 21st-Anniversary edition of The Shirt Project.

With a kelly green backdrop, the phrase is featured on The Shirt’s front in blue letters while an image of Notre Dame Stadium’s student section is shown on the back. “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” the opening line of the Notre Dame fight song, is written above the image. Underneath the image is the song’s final phrase, “Onward to victory.”

In an atmosphere bearing similarities to a football Saturday, with food, games, guest speakers, the glee club and the marching band, festivities began at 4 p.m. and continued until the much-anticipated shirt unveiling just after 6 p.m. Following the unveiling, fans and students had the chance to buy The Shirt. 

“We need to sell these shirts more than ever out there,” Kelly said, “We’ve already had 20,000 pre-sold, and the fans don’t even know what it looks like!”

Beginning in 1990 under the leadership of AnTostal chairman Brennen Harvath, The Shirt Project has become in its 21 years one of Notre Dame’s most widely recognized traditions. In its first year, more than $17,000 was raised to support the AnTostal budget and other student clubs on campus.

Today, part of the revenue from sales is given to rector funds and to The Shirt Project Fund, which supports students with serious accidents or illnesses.

As former Notre Dame football player and ESPN radio show host Mike Golic said, the shirt has raised more than $7 million in its 21 years.

“I love when The Shirt comes up,” Golic said, “It’s a new shirt to unveil, a new team to unveil.”

Also among the guest speakers on Friday was also Notre Dame fan favorite, officer Tim McCarthy of the Indiana State Police.

“Today’s unveiling marks a tradition to be worn with pride,” he said, “So remember, the statement on The Shirt makes a point, and I think that’s pretty sharp.”

Besides The Shirt’s design, students also had a preview of next year’s varsity Leprechaun, Dave Zimmer.

“How you all doin’ Irish fans?” he said on the stage, “Are you all ready for a new season and a new coach?”

His words reflected the growing sense of hope with the start of a new football season in the fall, Kelly’s first as head coach after the firing of Charlie Weis last December.

“There’s a lot of anticipation for next year,” sophomore Ronnie Kadykowski said. “Like with Mike Golic saying he likes the team’s offense, it’s kind of like a ‘Let’s get ready and put track shoes on’ kind of feeling. It’s also always exciting when you see a new coach. You want to see him do well.”

Growing anticipation came directly from Kelly as well. Speaking of the new Shirt’s design, he said it reflected the need to get back to the roots of tradition of Notre Dame football.
“The Shirt exemplifies exactly how we are going to play,” he said.

Sophomore Ben Fuja said he also sensed Kelly’s excitement.

“He got the fans fired up,” Fuja said of Kelly. “It was very cool. It’s nice to get a taste of what we’re getting next year.”

As far as the design went, he said it worked for him, too.

“Compared to last year, it’s a lot better,” he said. “I like the color, I like the front.”

Other students also noted an improvement from the previous design.

“I think last year’s shirt was too busy,” Kadykowski said. “This one is a lot more clean. It’s more stylish because of that.”