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Student committee to unveil 31st ‘The Shirt’

| Friday, April 17, 2020

Each year since 1990, a student-run committee has created a uniquely designed shirt for students and fans to wear throughout the upcoming Notre Dame football season. In the Irish community, it is simply known The Shirt. The committee will unveil the 31st The Shirt on The Shirt Project Facebook page Friday at 6 p.m. EST. 

Courtesy of Jennifer Paul

Members of The Shirt committee wait to unveil the 2019 Shirt. This year’s shirt will be unveiled Friday on The Shirt Project Facebook page.

The committee has been working on The Shirt since the beginning of the academic year, junior and The Shirt Project president Jennifer Paul said. 

“The committee sends out applications in the fall, and we usually receive over 100 applications for the 15-person committee,” Paul said in an email. 

Sophomore Anna Frericks was chosen to join the project this year as a designer, and she cited her love of Notre Dame football as her motivation to apply. 

“I grew up as a big Notre Dame football fan and also had a strong passion for art,” Frericks said in a text message. ”For me, The Shirt really combined these two things that I love so much.”

In terms of design, Frericks said choosing a color is the first step. After a color is chosen, the team tours Notre Dame Stadium to get inspiration for The Shirt’s main theme.

“It starts with a strong concept, and we ask ourselves what we want people to feel or be reminded of when they see The Shirt,” Frericks. “We have a lot of unique traditions that make Notre Dame football different than any other school’s team, so we try to make sure that this shirt is specific to Notre Dame.”

After their tour of the stadium, the students hold a brainstorming session during which everyone on the committee can suggest potential shirt designs.

“We all really have a similar impact on the design of The Shirt, even if you’re not a designer because we all brainstorm and critique designs together,” sophomore and co-unveiling coordinator Danielle Corbin said. “It’s really a group effort, but the designers are the ones doing the actual work on the computer.”

Over winter break, Frericks said she and the other two designers drafted sketches using the committee’s most popular ideas. The designers digitalize the more successful sketches for the committee to see.

“Sometimes it is difficult for non-designers to visualize what a shirt would look like from just looking at a sketch,” Frericks said. 

Frericks, Paul, The Shirt Project vice president and the other two designers traveled to California in February to work with a design team to finish minor details on The Shirt, Frericks said.

Once the design is completed, The Shirt is revealed to the Notre Dame community sometime in the spring. Corbin said they had arranged for an unveiling ceremony on Library Quad complete with food trucks, performances by student organizations and appearances from on-campus celebrities. 

The ceremony has since been moved online. Corbin said that although their plans had to suddenly change, she is still excited for people to see The Shirt.

“We won’t get that dramatic of an unveiling, but hopefully it’ll go well, and we’ll get a good turnout on the virtual one,” Corbin said.

To maintain a sense of community, Corbin reached out to on-campus celebrities to film their reactions to seeing The Shirt.

“Even though they won’t actually be at the unveiling, we still wanted to have them be a part of the event itself,” Corbin said.

All proceeds from The Shirt go to student clubs and organizations, The Shirt Charity Fund — which helps students with extreme medical expenses — and The Shirt Experience Fund, which provides funding for students to take part in campus activities. Given these high expectations, Frericks said crafting the final product can be difficult.

“At the end of the day, we are expected to [be] selling 150,000 shirts … so that is something that stays in the back of our minds when designing a shirt that will be popular,” Frericks said.

Nevertheless, Frericks feels honored to be chosen as a designer.

“I am glad I get to represent the Notre Dame community in such a big way and bring that same joy to all the fans that look forward to the unveiling as much as I did,” Frericks said.

Paul said she enjoys seeing the unity that The Shirt brings to Notre Dame football fans.

“The best feeling is seeing people wearing the design we have looked at for months on a projector,” Paul said. “I am so excited to see the ‘sea’ of the new Shirt in the stands at games this fall.”

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as an associate news editor.

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