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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Zarazua: Top 10 editions of “The Shirt”

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Michael Yu
Members of the Pom Squad perform at The Shirt unveiling while wearing its 2015 edition.


Editor’s Note: Gabriel Zarazua is a graphic designer for The Shirt.

It’s the unveiling week for “The Shirt”! If you don’t know what The Shirt is, it is a project that began in 1990 to raise money for Notre Dame student activities. To help unify Notre Dame Stadium, students wear it for every season’s first home game. To preview this Friday’s unveiling, I will rank my personal favorite editions of “The Shirt.”

10. 1991: 150 Years of Excellence

I am a fan of clean and simple, and 1991 demonstrates that perfectly. While there is nothing related to football on the shirt, the outline of the Golden Dome and the Basilica is beautiful. Though I am not a fan of royal blue, I feel the bright yellow design and font make it a nice vintage-style shirt I hope to obtain sometime.

9. 1990: The First Shirt

You can never go wrong with the original. With a sleek front design of “Notre Dame Irish” and hand-drawn designs of Notre Dame landmarks, including legendary coach Lou Holtz, this shirt is truly one of a kind. Designed in the spring of 1990 by Notre Dame alumnus Brennan Harvath, this is the shirt that started it all.

8. 1992: A Tradition Continues

As an artist, you always want to try and think outside the box when creating a piece. You want to be different yet get across the point you are trying to make. Well, the designers of the 1992 edition did just that. Once again bringing back Lou Holtz, they placed him before a Mount Rushmore of Notre Dame head football coaches. This shirt showed how the tradition of winning continues while conveying the expectations that come with being the head coach of the Fighting Irish.

7. 1997: Cheer Cheer for Old Notre Dame

While it’s always good to look ahead, sometimes you have to take a step back and see where you came from in order to move forward. On the back design of the 1997 edition, the present football players line up against the team of old — with leather helmets and all. It was a great way to show appreciation to past teams of Notre Dame football, showcasing the excellence the team has had for decades and would continue to have into the 21st century.

6. 2019: Built on Tradition

I have a soft spot for this edition since it was the one made when I was a freshman. Some bias aside, you can’t deny how amazing this shirt looks. Again going back to the days of old, this shirt keeps it nice and simple with “Notre Dame Football” on the front, but in a vintage font from the 1920s. On the back, we also have a vintage ND monogram alongside a football player from the good old leather helmet days. With the words “Built on Tradition” across the stadium, it gets its point across to showcase the foundations of what the football program was built on.

5. 2015: A Golden Tradition

I’m sure by now you can tell I am a sucker for the old days of Notre Dame football. With the old and new helmets together side by side on the front, it again shows how the past and present come together as one, a golden tradition that will never be surpassed by any other football team in the country. The design of the game is also dynamic and energetic. It reminds me of the vintage Notre Dame football programs you see at the entrance before the game. I’m a sucker for the green editions of past shirts, and this edition proves it.

4. 2004: We Are ND

Once again, I don’t mind when designs decide to be clean and simple. Sometimes all you need is one slogan and design to get your point across, and that is what 2004 is all about. “We are ND.” Need I say much else? The back showcases an amazing graphic of a football player with a sleek transparent shamrock behind it, along with the phrase “The Cheering Thousands Shout Their Battle Cry.” I honestly can’t explain it. Everything just fits together perfectly. The shades of gold and blue make everything come together perfectly with the green shirt. Sometimes simple is just better.

3. 2021: Strong and True

Coming off an interesting year — both on and off the field — this shirt represents hope in my eyes. After the struggles of our COVID-19 year, this shirt represents the hope of everything going back to normal thanks to the strength we all showed by sticking together through a rough year-and-a-half. Despite all the circumstances working against us, we came out stronger than ever.

The font and colors for “Strong and True” are beautiful. The gold helmet raised in the air is a nice touch. And the painted back design is just as beautiful to look at. You can truly appreciate all the attention to detail in the painting, and Ara Parseghian’s quote, “As long as there is unity, there is strength,” at the bottom really brings everything together. After all the ups and downs, this shirt summarizes that as long as we are in this together, we can accomplish anything.

2. 2020: With Unshakable Spirit

You know, I heard that, apparently, this shirt was not a favorite among the crowd. Well, it’s unfortunate that those people don’t have good taste because this shirt is truly one of a kind. This edition is full of easter eggs. I don’t even know where to begin! You have the stained glass front and center with the “Irish” forming around it. You have the founding dates for the university and football team and their corresponding stadium ticket placements.

A flyover soars above the football player, and the sleeve bears the vintage ND monogram you see in the stadium. The typography is also beautiful and I’m in love with the shade of green they chose. This shirt is simply amazing to look at. Maybe people disliked it because it was the COVID year, but either way, this shirt is one the best editions ever made, period.

1. 2002: Return to Glory

After all the praise I gave the 2020 edition of the shirt, what makes the edition made 18 years before so much better? Well, in all honesty, it was the first edition of The Shirt I ever owned. I found it a little over seven years ago in a Goodwill down south in San Antonio, Texas, and it was one of very few Notre Dame merchandise I ever owned for years. “Return to Glory” — what a phrase. After an underwhelming 5-6 season the year before, this edition was already conveying great expectations for the team before the season even started. That is what Notre Dame football is all about — the golden standard that no other football program has. No matter the circumstances, greatness is always expected of this team.

With the Four Horsemen and lines from Knute Rockne’s famous speech on the back along with that iconic gold helmet next to it, this shirt is a classic. In a way, it did predict the future, as the team went 10-3 that year. I still have the shirt to this day, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Don’t forget! The unveiling for the 34th edition of The Shirt is this Friday, April 21st on Library Lawn from 4:30 to 6 p.m. There will be food trucks, performances and much more! There will be events held every day leading up to the unveiling so keep an eye out by following our social media, @theshirtnd. Hope to see you all there!

The views expressed in this Sports Authority reflect those of the author and not those of The Observer.