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Hoping for a Winning Shirt

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Thursday, April 22, 2010

The idea is there. A student section united in one color, an intimidating symbol of the Fighting Irish. Not only does it bond together the students, but it also brings together Domers around the world who love to don The Shirt to support Our Lady’s University and the cause it supports.

However, the idea falls apart when the student section is united to form a flesh-colored blob in the back left corner of the stadium. A flesh-colored blob is not intimidating. It is especially not intimidating when it accompanies an obvious sexual innuendo.

Last football season’s “Rise and Strike” shirt (yeah, how many people didn’t just giggle while reading that?) was the 20th anniversary Shirt. It was the perfect opportunity to hearken back to older shirts, to bring back the color green, like the kelly green that united the student section in 1990, the first year of The Shirt.

That was the real problem with last season’s Shirt: the color. The Notre Dame student body is already united in the fact that many of us are Irish Americans. We didn’t need a shirt to match our pasty skin.

I took a stroll through LaFortune to take a gander at what The Shirt looked like in past years, as I have really only seen the past three or four, and found a few that I liked. I’m hoping that the people in charge of The Shirt project did too, because they could receive some wonderful inspiration.

The Shirt from 1992 especially struck me because I hope it is one that can be brought back soon. Plain across the front, with a simple “Notre Dame Football” below a small golden dome, it is the back that, as is typical of The Shirt, draws the most attention. Mount Rushmore has been redone to display the faces of legendary Notre Dame coaches Frank Leahy, Dan Devine, Ara Parseghian and Knute Rockne. In color, set against the mountain, is Lou Holtz, fresh off his National Championship winning season, with “the tradition continues…” scrawled below him.

I sincerely hope that, one day soon, this shirt can be brought back with new coach Brian Kelly adorning the bottom of Notre Dame’s Mount Rushmore, after he leads us to another National Championship season with his new coaching style.

Another one I liked was from 2003. The front was once again simple: “Here come the Irish” written over a shamrock. Across the back, surrounding a full color picture of football players exiting the tunnel, read the iconic words from the song by Jim Tullio and John Scully, “There’s a magic in the sound of their name. Here come the Irish of Notre Dame.”
I really liked this shirt because of its incorporation of the song, “Here Come the Irish.” On Gameday, that song can be heard all over campus, from tailgates to concession stands, so I found the lyrics very appropriate and inspiring to grace the famous shirt worn by almost the entire campus.

No matter my opinion on last season’s Shirt, though, I am excited for the unveiling of this year’s. I am hoping that the committee has learned its lesson — that gold does not translate well into the color of a T-shirt — and has developed a fresh new design to welcome in a new era at our fine University.

Contact Mary Claire O’Donnell at [email protected]