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Gold Gang adds to game day experience

| Friday, September 18, 2015

On home game Saturdays, 11 students hide behind mysterious personas and gold spandex, roaming campus to greet Notre Dame fans who seek the perfect photo opportunity.

These 11 men make up the Gold Gang, a group currently in its second year on campus. For every home game, they go out in their morph suits to add a memorable element to the game day experience at Notre Dame.

Junior Ryan O’Donnell works as a guide for the Gold Gang and speaks for the men behind the gold spandex, whose job requirements include an oath of silence while working.

20150917, 20150917, Courtesy of Ryan O'Donnell, Gold GangPhoto courtesy of Ryan O'Donnell

“You’re not allowed to know who they are — it defeats the illusion of the Gold Gang,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said the Gold Gang supplements the traditional Notre Dame game day atmosphere so many fans travel across the country to experience.

“It’s different, it’s unique and I don’t know how many other schools have this,” O’Donnell said. “I personally like the ‘wow’ factor, like the ‘What is that? Why are there people in gold suits?’ reaction that we get.”

According to the Gold Gang’s website, the 11 members represent Notre Dame’s 11 football national championships. The group’s website tells the fantastical backstory of how the Gold Gang came into being after a night at the lab, where Knute Rockne was working on bottling the Notre Dame spirit.

“We love our school and we’ll do whatever we can to show you how great Notre Dame is,” O’Donnell said. “It functions similarly to what the cheerleaders and leprechaun do, just to give that greater promotion of the Fighting Irish mentality.”

Sophomore Aline Irihamye said her experience with the Gold Gang last year started off as initial curiosity and then ended with a picture that her and her friends look back on (Editor’s note: Aline Irihamye is a news writer for the Observer).

“I found out that one of my friends was one of the Gold Gang members, but he wasn’t allowed to tell me while in the morph suit,” Irihamye said. “I just remember one of the Gold Gang people gesturing wildly at me with his hands, and me wondering why he was doing that.”

Anonymity is an important element in the Gold Gang group, and on their website each member is listed as a number — each corresponding to a national championship year — rather than a name in order to preserve their element of mystery and intrigue.

O’Donnell said one of his favorite memories working as a guide for the Gold Gang came when a little girl who was initially scared of the members eventually warmed up to them and started dancing with them.

“Last year we dropped by this tailgate and this little girl screamed like she was afraid,” O’Donnell said. “The next thing I know, they’re all dancing together and having a fun time and they were really sad when we had to go somewhere else.”

The Gold Gang frequents hotspots such as LaFortune and Notre Dame Stadium during home games and takes pictures with everyone, whether or not they are cheering for Notre Dame.

“If you see us on campus, come take your picture with us because that’s what we’re here for,” O’Donnell said. “Create a lasting memory and put it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and enjoy your game day and know that we’re here to help you enjoy it even more.”

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena