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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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‘The Golden Ticket’ podcast aims to amplify athlete voices

Student trio challenges athlete stereotypes and highlights personal stories

“The Golden Ticket” podcast, launched in October 2023 by Notre Dame junior Jimmy Collins and sophomore athletes Reese Sanders and Isaiah Dunn, aims to dismantle stereotypes surrounding student-athletes while allowing them to share their experiences. 

“We want to provide a platform for student athletes. That's kind of our motto,” Sanders said. “We just want to give the opportunity for athletes to talk and share their stories because there are so many things in scripts that could get twisted and turned into stereotypes.” 

Sanders, a sophomore double majoring in psychology and film, TV and theater (FTT), along with Collins, also an FTT major, started the project to highlight the personal narratives often overshadowed by athletic achievements. They were later joined by Dunn, recruited from Sanders’ acting class, to complete the trio. Dunn is a cornerback on the football team, while Sanders is on the track and field team. 

“[The podcast] is also to bring out the person that's behind the athlete,” Collins explained. ”There's a lot of stereotypes in terms of ‘Oh, they're just athletes, they don't come here to do school. They just come here to play their sport, and that's all they care about.‘ But at the end, there’s stories behind these people, there's personalities and we get to see both.”

Some athletes who have spoken on the podcast include pole vaulter Olivia Fabry, footballer players Jaden Mickey and Benjamin Morrison, hockey player Jake Boltmann and soccer player Sophia Fisher. 

“I would love to see Hannah Hidalgo on the podcast. I think she's only going to get better,” Sanders said. 

The podcast covers a variety of subjects, including brand imaging as athletes and mental health struggles. 

“Some athletes on podcasts have talked about mental health struggles. We love hearing about the struggles because then we see how well they do on the field or on the court and it's like: ‘Wow, they went through that and overcame it, so you can too,’” Sanders said.

Initially, the team took a grassroots approach to gathering athlete speakers but due to the podcast's popularity they have now garnered interest from coaches seeking to showcase their athletes’ stories. 

“At first we just reached out to people that we knew ... But recently it's become tough because we've had some coaches reach out to us asking if they could get one of their athletes on it,” Collins said. 

Sanders, drawing from her own experiences as a student-athlete, emphasized the importance of addressing the unspoken challenges athletes face.

“Being a student athlete, I understand the struggles that athletes don't always talk about, whether that be the stereotypes or whether it be mental health issues, because of the sport and the pressure, [or] whether it be on social media,” Sanders said. “We really just want to provide information about the resources that Notre Dame has, as well as just build this community.” 

Looking ahead, the team envisions hosting athletes from all 13 varsity sports at Notre Dame on the podcast as well as expanding the podcast to host college athletes from other schools around the country. 

“We're looking to grow our platform to other universities and other athletes, which will make our scheduling a lot tougher, but it is something we want to do,” Sanders said.