Always dressed in their traditional yellow jackets and hats, the Notre Dame ushers are charged with organizing more than 80,000 fans who fill the seats at Notre Dame Stadium each and every home game Saturday to cheer on the Irish. Visitors and students would agree they are engrained in the tradition of home football weekends.
While some fans may think ushers are solely associated with football weekends, Jim Smith, Crowd Control Program Manager for the Notre Dame Athletics Department, explains there is a wide range of events that keeps their crew busy throughout the year. “We staff about 140 events a month for about 80,000 man-hours a year,” Smith said.
Smith, who is in his third season as Crowd Control Program Manager and his 21st year in the Usher program, oversees over 900 ushers on the roster, with approximately 700 of these individuals staffing each football game. Among the ushers we find residents of 22 states and Canada. Notre Dame’s single usher from Canada, Paul Matthews of Ottawa, Ontario, has been traveling more than 14 hours to volunteer at every home game since 2002. No distance is great enough to keep Notre Dame’s committed and passionate ushers away from campus.
So what is it that brings this large group back to campus for each home football game? "They come for the love of the University, to be a part of the game day experience, and to make others happy. It’s a pilgrimage for some to come here,” Smith said. Notre Dame Ushers have a bond with Notre Dame. With half of the ushers volunteering their time on game days, you know it has to be a special place to keep them coming back.
Notre Dame Ushers have an opportunity to be part of a truly special Game Day experience for thousands of fans. When we ask Notre Dame Ushers about their favorite moments on Game Days, the consensus is seeing the Notre Dame faithful step into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time and break into tears.
In addition to the special moments the Ushers experience each game weekend, each and every usher also has a sincere sense of loyalty to their role and the University. “We try to be ambassadors for the University. Most of the people who come here on game day aren’t going to see Father Jenkins. They’re going to interact with an usher. So the impression that usher leaves is going to be the impression of the University, so we try to make that as positive an experience as possible."
Notre Dame ushers combine their passion and duty to create a memorable game experience for Irish fans who come to Notre Dame Stadium. While we are grateful for each of them, they are grateful to each of you for allowing them to be a special part of your Game Day experience.
Interested in the Usher program? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, check back on gameday.nd.edu as we profile individual ushers throughout the year.