On home game Saturdays, 700 individuals from 22 states and Canada enter through Gate A of the Football Stadium to report to the Usher Office. These individuals come together to make sure all fans have a fun and safe game experience at Notre Dame. They may scan your ticket as you enter the gate, they may help you find your seat, or they may help you with a question. Whatever it is that they do, they help to make your Game Day experience a great one. In recognition of their service to the University, we bring you the “Usher Report”, a series highlighting these gracious individuals who help to make Game Day at Notre Dame an experience unlike any other. This week we are highlighting, Paul Miller.
Each Football Friday, guests taking advantage of the Tunnel tour at Notre Dame Stadium are greeted with a cheerful, “Welcome to Notre Dame!” from a very tall gentleman with an unmistakable smile. His smile says, “I love Notre Dame and I am happy you are here.” Paul Miller is an Usher who is widely recognized by his peers and fans because of the infamous smile he has worn on his face during home game weekends for the past 35 years that he has been a part of the Usher Program.
Paul’s introduction to the Usher Program 35 years ago came somewhat unexpectedly, lucky for Paul. “Some things are just meant to be”, said Paul when describing how he became an Usher. "I had just finished The Dale Carnegie Course, and was sitting at a table with the freshman placement counselor from Bethel College at a pizza restaurant. He said during our conversation that he would like to find a replacement usher so he could resume playing soccer on Saturdays. I said I would like to be an usher. He placed my name in with Art James, the then Director of the Usher Program. In 1979 Art assigned Paul to be an Usher in Section 22 of Notre Dame Stadium and “the rest is history,” as Paul said.
Paul served as an Usher in Section 22 for twenty years. Then, in 1999 Paul was promoted to Supervisor of the Tunnel. For the past fourteen years Paul and his great team of ushers have provided excellent hospitality, security, and service. While they have the pleasure of welcoming fans, they also have the unique role of welcoming both the Notre Dame and visiting Marching Bands, cheerleaders, coaches and players to Notre Dame Stadium at the famous Tunnel gate.
In Paul’s nearly 35 years at Notre Dame, he has no doubt had some memorable moments. However, when asked what his most memorable moment has been while serving as a Notre Dame Usher, Paul said, “Three years ago on a football Friday, I met four brothers and their terminally ill father in the Tunnel. One of the sons asked me if I could get the father into the (Play Like a Champion) sign for a picture. After hearing the condition of the father, I agreed. I let him put his hand on the sign and took pictures of the event for him. The following year at the Blue & Gold game, the sons of this gentleman came over to me and said that their father had passed away. They shook my hand and thanked me for making their father’s dream come true.” Paul went on to tell us, “If you know me at all, you know that I shed some tears right then and there.”
While Paul’s duties require him to focus on ensuring campus and Stadium Policies are followed, he also has a sincere understanding of and appreciation for the magnitude of the Notre Dame experience for fans. “I most enjoy how we all seem to want to make the Notre Dame experience a moment in our guests’ lives,” explained Paul. For the passion of his team and the many individuals who help to make the Game Day experience incredible, Paul would like to say, “Thank you!”
For Paul, the Game Day experience has more to do with the Tunnel on Friday. “We get to meet with so many people from so many far flung places. On the Friday before the Navy game we met some rugby players from South Africa. On another occasion we met a lady from Thailand,” Paul explained. “So, as you can see, we at the Tunnel get to meet, talk to people and help make their Notre Dame experience a truly great one. And yes, some of these moments bring a tear to my eye.” Paul’s passion for the Notre Dame Game Day experience paired with his well known, “I love Notre Dame and I’m happy you’re here!” smile have made him an asset to and loved member of the Game Day team.
Paul, thank you for your commitment to our fans and your continued service to Our Lady’s University!