‘The Shirt’ revealed for 2018 football season
Tom Naatz | Monday, April 23, 2018
At last September’s Notre Dame-Georgia football game, head coach Brian Kelly noticed a problem. Not with his team, but with the apparel of the crowd.
“As you looked around the stadium, you couldn’t really find the color that hit Notre Dame,” Kelly said Friday at the unveiling ceremony of the 2018 edition of “The Shirt.”
The ceremony was the culmination of a months-long process. The Shirt Project has been working throughout the year to design the hallmark piece of Notre Dame fan apparel for the upcoming season. Junior Kristin Andrejko, president of The Shirt Project, said many steps went into this year’s product.
“Our committee is formed usually every October and the first big choice we make as a committee is our choice of vendor,” she said. “After October, the next big decision we have to make is the color of the shirt, and so we usually have that decided before Christmas … Along with the color comes a decision about fabric … January through February is very design-intensive … and then March and April are heavy on the Unveiling planning and thinking about our marketing promotions.”
The Shirt Project is a student-run endeavor. Members of the committee are chosen through a selective application process, Andrejko said. Aside from the committee’s advisor, who helps with issues related to trademarks, and Kelly, who is always presented with The Shirt about a week before the unveiling to give his “stamp of approval,” the enterprise is a largely student-led operation.
Junior Michael Conlon, the head of external relations for The Shirt, said of all the decisions the committee has to make every year, the choice of color is one of the most contentious.
“There’s so many things to take into consideration,” Conlon said. “Whether it’s past colors, schedule of upcoming teams, different things like that. So, I think that is the toughest decision we make, pretty much because that’s something we have to come together as a consensus as a committee to do.”
Andrejko said there was more to the choice of color than may originally meet the eye.
“The first thing that someone asks us when we unveil the shirt is ‘what color is it?’ It is such a big, big question,” she said. “We want the answer to be a good one … We take into account factors that many people don’t even consider. Like do we want it to be a shirt you just pull out of your drawer and wear every day? Or do we want it to be something that’s going to pop in the stadium, really bright and vibrant? Or do we want it to be a classic Notre Dame color, do we want it to be something new that Notre Dame fans haven’t seen before? It’s always a lengthy discussion.”
Andrejko said all of the money raised by The Shirt — a total of over $11 million since the project‘s founding in 1990 — stays at Notre Dame to help students. Half of the revenue goes to support student clubs and organizations, while the other half goes to the Student Enrichment Endowment, which provides financial support to low-income students on-campus. Last year, approximately 130,000 “Shirts” were sold, thought to be the highest selling piece of collegiate apparel in the nation.
The Unveiling itself had a carnival-like atmosphere. The event opened with performances from various student groups. Former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who currently plays for the Dallas Cowboys, was the guest of honor. Smith, returning to campus for the first time since signing with “America’s Team,” signed autographs and was briefly interviewed by Andrejko.
“God, country, Notre Dame,” Smith said. “I’m blessed.”
Smith said his favorite memory from inside Notre Dame Stadium was the team’s defeat of Michigan during their most game against each other in 2014. While Answering some questions about his time at Notre Dame, he said he preferred North Dining Hall to South and that his favorite place on-campus was the LaFortune Student Center.
When Kelly took the stage, he said he wanted to make sure this year’s Shirt would clearly identify Notre Dame fans.
“So, for this [opening] game against Michigan — which is that crazy maize color and blue — we wanted to make sure it was unmistakable as to what colors you would see in that stadium,” he said.
The 2018 Shirt was revealed shortly after Smith and Kelly spoke. It shows the gold lettered “University of Notre Dame” located over Notre Dame Stadium’s Knute Rockne Gate on the front, and depicts three Notre Dame linemen above an Ara Parseghian quote, “no breaking point,” on the back.
Smith, who seriously injured his knee in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl — his last game with Notre Dame — saluted his alma mater in his remarks.
“If you were watching that game when I got hurt, if I had to go back I just want to let you guys know that I would play in that game again,” he said. “I love Notre Dame so much.”