The lack of collegiate and professional sports during this pandemic has allowed the writers of Scholastic to reflect on aspects of athletics that usually do not get placed in the spotlight. This story provided me the opportunity to thank members of the gameday experience that seldom receive recognition: the ushers.
I have been to some of the most iconic college football stadiums in the country. I have seen a whiteout in Happy Valley at Beaver Stadium, I have seen a crowd of over 100,000 screaming fans at Michigan Stadium and I have been down to SEC country to see a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but I have yet to find another game day that can rival that of Notre Dame.
Some may say it’s a biased view, but I believe that it is the truth. The passion and tradition that fills the air on the Notre Dame campus during game day and the fans that come to support the team are what makes Notre Dame so special.
Yet, there is one group of people that does not get the appreciation and recognition that they so deserve. Anyone who has been to a football game at Notre Dame knows who I am talking about: the ushers who don their yellow caps and provide so much assistance to fans in and around the stadium.
Each interaction with an usher begins with a simple “Welcome to Notre Dame.” It does not matter what team you are rooting for that day, how intoxicated you are or even whether or not you are on campus to see the game: you will be greeted with the same smile and hospitality that everyone else is.
It’s a small gesture, and some fans criticize Notre Dame for being too welcoming and kind to the opposition, but as a student of the university, I am proud of the environment that Notre Dame puts forward. It is in line with the mission of the university that everyone feels safe and welcome underneath the dome. Plus, this welcoming atmosphere has not affected the play of the team on the field: Notre Dame has gone undefeated at home each of the last two seasons.
Over those two seasons, I have come to know many of the ushers on campus and now greet them at each of the athletic events they work. Many of these unsung heroes of gamedays do not even get paid. They are willing to give up their time just for a view of the game. That sort of passion and love for Notre Dame is what makes the place so special. Where else in the country would people work in exchange for a ticket to the game? The answer: nowhere but here.
When asked what I love about Notre Dame, the answer is always the same: the family environment. That is what drew me to the school two years ago and that is what makes me love the school more and more each day.
This sense of community was first shown to me by an usher at a lacrosse game in the spring of 2018. The game was sold out, and my mother and I were stuck outside the gates with a very obstructed view of the game. We were approached by an usher whose job was to move us away from the gate, but instead he welcomed me to Notre Dame with the familiar greeting, asked us if we were enjoying accepted students weekend and gave us his tickets. As I walked out of the gate and thanked him again, he said “Welcome home!” and I knew that I had found the right school.
Each student that has passed through Notre Dame has undoubtedly had a special experience with ushers, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank them from all of us. They don’t always get the appreciation they deserve, but to the biggest Notre Dame fans I know, thank you for the smiles and the memories. I look forward to many more this upcoming season!
(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)