Allow me to introduce the Twitter Mirror, also known as the latest social media craze on the sidelines at athletic events and on the red carpet and backstage at awards shows. The innovative selfie-taking technological marvel (an iPad in a plastic frame shaped like a mirror) aims to capture celebrities and events in a less formal, more spontaneous fashion that posts directly to twitter.
We thought, if they can do it at the Grammys, why can't we do it at the Notre Dame Football awards show, ECHOES?
So, I was handed a Twitter Mirror to document the night. Here's a collection of some of the best moments from #ECHOES15 with the #TwitterMirror.
Notre Dame football players Jerry Tillery and Matthias Farley were the guest zamboni riders at the hockey game vs. UMass this past Saturday. The two quickly learned that an entire intermission is a long time to be on a zamboni with an arena full of fans staring at you.
Luckily, the guys were pretty entertaining. Check out their moves.
Remember those field trips you went on when you were in third grade? I remember going to the zoo, the science museum, and the symphony, to name a few. (Why someone thought that third graders would be able to sit through, much less appreciate, a two-hour long symphony... I have no idea.)
Imagine going on a third grade field trip to a Notre Dame football game. Sounds like just a dream, right? Not unless you're in Ms. Silva's third grade class. Then it's reality.
It all started three years ago, when Allison Silva's class at Taylor Leadership Academy in Stockton, California, had to decide what college they wanted to adopt for the year.
"At my school, each class adopts a different college," says Silva. "Because we're low-income, it's a low-income area, I'd say everybody that will go is going to be a first generation college student. So, it's sort of just a way for them to set that long-term goal of, this is going to be part of my life and they are aware of it."
Silva's brother graduated from Notre Dame and her father is, as Ms. Silva says, a big Notre Dame football fan. So, she might be a bit biased. But ultimately, it was the kids who voted to have Notre Dame as their school, in large part because of Notre Dame football.
"[Sports are] just sort of a natural gateway into catching their interest in college because that's something that they don't have and is not stressed in their household," says Silva. "So, Notre Dame is a natural fit. It was so funny, when I kind of presented them with a few choices it was like, 'Yeah, they're on my video game.' I'm like great, if you're going to be into it and be willing to learn about college. Whatever it takes."
Now, three years later and with a new group of third graders, Silva said this year's class has embraced Notre Dame more than any other year.
The walls of the California classroom are covered with Notre Dame and the students wear name tags with the signature leprechaun on them. Before each test, the class lines up and slaps a sign on the wall that says Play Like A Champion Today.
"It sort of gets them in the mindset of, 'I'm gonna tackle this and I'm excited for this test,'" says Silva.
To get the class' attention, Ms. Silva will yell, "Fighting!" to which the kids all respond in unison, "Irish!". When it's time to do research of their choice, it's almost always related to Notre Dame. One third grader found out she had the same birthday as Malik Zaire. After that discovery, Ms. Silva says she caught other kids sneaking on the computer to see if they shared a birthday with any of the players.
The students also write their own word problems that are centered around Notre Dame. Like this one:
Even outside of the classroom, the kids embrace Notre Dame. "Football isn't allowed at our school, so I have a Notre Dame basketball and they play basketball," says Silva. "But they say, 'We're the Notre Dame football team, playing basketball. I'm Jaylon Smith' or 'It's my turn to be Malik.'"
And, of course, the class watches Notre Dame play on Saturdays, usually at a local pizza parlor.
Last year, Ms. Silva decided to create a twitter account for her class. Not only is the account a way to share photos and videos of their love for Notre Dame but, it's also a way to connect the kids with the Notre Dame community.
"I wanted to bridge that gap," says Silva. "We know Notre Dame is a thing, we know that it's awesome, but how do I get these kids feeling like they're a part of it."
Social media was the answer. The twitter account has gotten the attention of some of the players, who will often retweet or "like" tweets from Ms. Silva's third grade class.
"It's bigger than just pressing retweet to the kids in my class," says Silva. "It's them feeling like they know [the players]. They think that Jerry Tillery wants to eat pizza with them from watching that Showtime episode."
The twitter account also caught the eye of Ted Mandell, a Film, Television, and Theatre professor at Notre Dame who is involved with producing a series of short documentaries called First Time Fans. Each documentary follows a person experiencing a Notre Dame football game for the first time.
Mandell first saw Ms. Silva's twitter account in the beginning of October, after someone tweeted at her saying that she should go to a Notre Dame game. When she responded that she had never been to one, Mandell, along with the film's director Chad Schaffler (ND '96), thought that Silva would be perfect for the First Time Fans series.
Camera crews wasted no time getting on a flight to Stockton to film Ms. Silva and her Notre Dame class.
"For me, it's all for the kids," says Silva. "So, when they said they were coming, I don't even think I could process thoughts at that point. That's been the most exciting part for me, that [the kids] felt so included in Notre Dame because these guys came out [to California]. It was like, they don't just know about us, they care about us."
A week later, Ms. Silva flew to South Bend for the Wake Forest game, getting the full Notre Dame experience.
On Friday afternoon, Ms. Silva facetimed her class to give them an update on the weekend. The kids were excited enough to see Ms. Silva at Notre Dame but when she revealed that she was being joined by Malik Zaire, the class went wild.
For the next 30 minutes, the students proceeded to ask Malik questions about football and sports in general. Mostly, though, the class asked Malik about school and what it was like to be a college student.
At one point, one of the kids asked, "Are you in the Golden Dome?" Unfortunately, we weren't. Before he said goodbye, the kids sang the fight song to Malik while he clapped along.
"Our local paper used a quote one of the kids said, 'We are Notre Dame,'" says Silva. "It's really how they feel now. It's seriously magical because they don't think of themselves as third graders. They think, we're just really small Notre Dame students and that's what they say. So the whole thing has been surreal."
Things only became more surreal for Ms. Silva on Saturday before the Wake Forest game, when she found out a generous donor had heard of her and her class and wanted to give them tickets to the Stanford game, just 80 miles from Stockton.
What was the class' reaction when Ms. Silva told them they would be going to a Notre Dame game? Watch below.
While adopting Notre Dame has given the students a group of players to idolize and a team to root for, the most important thing for Ms. Silva is what the Notre Dame football team has been able to teach this group of third graders.
"Even just through following Notre Dame, they've learned about all the colleges they've played," says Silva. "So, it's this awareness of, okay college exists, it's an option and I can do it and I can get there."
On Saturday, there will most likely be a good number of Notre Dame fans at the Stanford game. But no one will be louder than Ms. Silva's third grade class, ND Class of 2029.
This past Monday marks four years since members of the 2011 Notre Dame football team recorded Trick Shot Monday for the very first time. The inaugural edition was a lengthy 5 minutes of cell phone footage, half of which the team spent screaming in celebration of a made shot (see below).
The cinematography and trickiness of the shots have developed extensively since then and four years later, the tradition is still going strong.
In honor of the four year anniversary, here's a look back at some of the highlights over the years.
If someone comes up to you and asks, "Do you want to go on the field and tour the Notre Dame locker room today?" you're not going to say no. It's Notre Dame. Of course you want to go on the field and tour the locker room.
And that was my exact response when the marketing team asked me if I wanted to go on the Irish Upgrades Locker Room Tour and On-Field Photo Friday experience during the Georgia Tech game weekend.
I brought along my good friend Molly to go on the tour with me, knowing she is a lifelong Notre Dame fan and would be just as stoked as I was to see behind the scenes of Notre Dame football.
Friday Field Access
There was no time wasted on this hour-long tour. The very first thing we did was step onto the field. To my surprise, and delight, we pretty much had full reign of the field, meaning they didn't rope us back at the end zone as they do for normal locker room tours. No, we actually got to run free.
I only wish I had brought a football so Molly and I could practice our routes on the 40 yard line. Instead, we had to steal one from a little kid (don't worry, we asked first). The one pass I did make to Molly, which was a perfectly thrown spiral just like DeShone Kizer taught me at Football 101, she dropped. It hit her right in the chest and she still dropped it! But, she did a touchdown dance anyway. We let her get away with celebrating a dropped touchdown pass because it's not every day you have the opportunity to do a touchdown dance on the field at Notre Dame Stadium.
Inside the Locker Room
Being an employee in Notre Dame athletics, I've talked my way into getting a tour of the locker room before. But, I can honestly say that the experience with Irish Upgrades was unlike any locker room tour I've taken before. For one, I've never seen the locker room set up for game day. The lockers were completely ready for each player with pads, a uniform, cleats, a helmet, and two perfectly placed pieces of bubble gum waiting for them to come in on Saturday afternoon.
The standard locker room tours don't let you actually walk around the locker room. But, with Irish Upgrades, you can. You're still not allowed to touch anything but you can at least stick your face up real close to the locker and, of course, you can take all the pictures you want. So, a fully charged camera is something you don't want to forget.
Molly described being in the locker room best when she said it felt like "sacred ground". This is the team's space. This is where they strategize, where they get fired up, where they celebrate wins. To be standing in the exact spot and knowing that all of this will take place in just 24 hours is pretty surreal.
Play Like A Champion Today
Of course, my favorite part of the locker room tour was getting to slap the Play Like A Champion Today sign and pretend like I was actually running out of the tunnel, onward to victory. When I touched the sign, I thought about all the people that have touched it, which immediately brought up thoughts of germs. I've been assured that they clean it regularly, though, so germs are nothing to worry about here. But, it's pretty cool to think about all of the Notre Dame legends who have touched the same sign and have actually ran onward to victory. The tradition of the sign is something not very many people have the chance to experience.
When I was little, my dad bought me a gold rally towel that is a mini version of the Play Like A Champion Today sign. I hung it on my bedroom wall and looked at it everyday, not sure if I'd ever see the real thing. To this day, it is still hanging on my wall. But, the real thing is so much cooler and something every Notre Dame fan should get a chance to see, and touch.
Post-Game Field Access
Another awesome part of the Irish Upgrades experience is that you get full on-field access after the game. My dad, a Notre Dame alum, and his friend, a guy who had never been to Notre Dame before, were at the game and came down onto the field with me post-game. At first, I thought, "How much different can going on the field after the game be from going on the field on Friday?" But, being on the field after the game is an entirely different experience.
I can't really put it into words but there was this feeling that lingered in the stadium; the aftermath of victory hanging in the air. It almost felt spiritual, which was probably due in large part to the sky at dusk and the sun setting over the stadium. To stand on the ground that the team had just won a battle on, it might sound cliché but, it was a surreal experience.
Being on the field post-game also feels very exclusive because it is not something very many people get to do. It's just your fellow fans with Irish Upgrades and a few ushers so, essentially, it feels like your own personal field. My dad and his friend raced each other from the 40 yard line to the end zone, their much slower version of a 40 yard dash. My dad lost by a bit but he insists it's only because he wasn't wearing the proper shoes for racing.
No matter what you do on campus on game weekend, you are going to have a remarkable experience - it's Notre Dame, how could you not? But if you want to take it above and beyond and really complete your Notre Dame experience, Irish Upgrades is the perfect way to do it. And I am saying this after only taking advantage of two of the several experiences they have to offer.
This is the closest you'll ever come to actually being on the team, unless you're a very good up-and-coming college football player, then you'll probably get closer. Most of all, it's something that is sure to create memories that will last you a lifetime, even if those memories include losing a race to your friend. If it was on the Notre Dame field, though, did you really lose anything? I think we all know the answer to that.
Nick Ossello always dreamed of being a college football player, and the Colorado native was well on his way to becoming one. Earning All-Colorado honors as a quarterback and safety at Wheat Ridge High School, Nick caught the eye of schools like the University of Montana and the Air Force Academy.
But, there was just one problem: he was pretty good at lacrosse, too. So good, in fact, he was sought out by the University of Maryland, one of the premiere lacrosse programs in the nation, and originally planned to play for the Terps.
"I'll never forget when Maryland e-mailed me and said, 'We're interested in you,'" said Nick. "I was like, 'Wow, I've been waiting for this e-mail since I was a little kid.'"
Nick always wanted to play college football over college lacrosse but, the Division I offers for lacrosse were too big to turn down.
And so was Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame just gave the best of both worlds, both academically and athletically," said Nick. "[They have] a top lacrosse program and top academics. So, ultimately, when Coach Corrigan and Coach Byrne reached out to me, pretty much as soon as I set foot here on campus, I couldn't turn it down."
The decision to play lacrosse at Notre Dame paid off for Nick. During his junior year, the Irish made it to the NCAA Championship game and lost to Duke. Last year, Nick's senior year, Notre Dame suffered an overtime loss in the semifinal game to eventual champion Denver. It was a goal from Nick that forced the game into overtime with 9 seconds left in regulation.
"Regardless of how well we were as a program, we had a lot of success and we were working really hard as a team," said Nick. "Those guys are still my best friends to this day and I'll always be appreciative of that experience."
Not only is Nick proud of the program's success but, he is was also happy to be a part of putting lacrosse, and Notre Dame lacrosse specifically, on the map. When #1 Notre Dame beat #2 UNC last year at home in front of a sold out crowd, the students stormed the field in celebration, a rare occurrence for a college lacrosse game.
"One of the coolest things was just to see how much the sport of lacrosse grew from where it was my freshman year to my senior year," said Nick. "Not only to be a part of a great program like Notre Dame, but just to see the sport of lacrosse grow was an unbelievable opportunity that I'll always be appreciative of."
Lacrosse was so promising for Nick that he even got drafted to play professionally for the Denver Outlaws, his home Major League Lacrosse team.
Then, his childhood dream to play college football resurfaced.
"I was talking to my dad and we found this rule in the NCAA where if it's a different sport, the NCAA will give you a fifth year of eligibility," said Nick. "We thought that was kind of neat."
After finding that out, Nick wasn't ready to give up on his childhood dream just yet.
"I started reaching out to some old football coaches that had recruited me," said Nick. "I was looking at Montana and was actually very set on going there. Then, Notre Dame reached out to me."
Notre Dame, the school he had helped put on the map for lacrosse, the school whose football team he had cheered for every Saturday during his time at Notre Dame, the school he was going to earn a degree from, was offering him a shot at living out his childhood dream.
"After the lacrosse season ended, I had a couple of meetings with the [football] coaching staff [at Notre Dame] and just went over the options between Montana and here," said Nick. "Again, it was pretty much impossible to turn down playing football for Notre Dame."
In the spring of 2015, Nick graduated from Notre Dame with a marketing degree. Shortly after, he returned for summer training camp, trading in his lacrosse cleats for football ones.
"Over the summer, I kind of got the gist and the flow of how [college] football works," said Nick. "But, it is a very different sport."
One of those differences, Nick mentioned, is that football involves less running and more contact than lacrosse, something he enjoys but has had to get used to.
"The lacrosse coaches for four years were telling me, 'Don't hit people that hard, you'll get a penalty,'" said Nick. "And now, it's like, 'Nick, go hit that person as hard as you can.' So yeah, I'm trying to forget everything I've learned over the last four years."
On Texas weekend, game day finally arrived for Nick and the rest of the team. The childhood dream of playing college football was now a reality for Nick, and other first-time college players, as they walked into the stadium from the Gug that Saturday afternoon.
"That was, no exaggeration, the coolest moment of my life," said Nick. "I had an extra pair of gloves that I gave to a kid and his whole family thought it was so awesome. Then, running out of the tunnel to the smoke and everybody screaming, that was just something else. I really wish I had the words to describe how it felt and what it meant, but I don't."
Nick is listed as a linebacker on the current roster and while he hasn't seen any minutes on defense yet this season, he has played special teams in two of the first three games.
"That was incredible," said Nick. "It was kind of tough because on one hand, I was like 'Yeah, I'm in the game, I gotta go hit somebody, I gotta do something.' And on the other hand, it's like, 'I have to stay focused on my role so I don't get yelled at during film.' While it was an incredible adrenaline rush and it was awesome running out on the field, I still had to stay focused."
Nick has certainly experienced the best of three different worlds: Notre Dame, lacrosse, and now football. But, it didn't come without hard work and endless determination to live out his dream.
Once the football season is over, Nick hopes to put his Notre Dame degree to use and enter the job market. But, not surprisingly, he remains interested in playing sports just a little bit longer.
"If I had to guess right now, I'd be playing pro lacrosse for at least a couple of years, something to tell the kids about and keep the dream alive of playing sports," said Nick. "My priority right now is finding a good job and getting my career off on the right foot but I also want to end up playing pro lacrosse for a few years."
Whether he plays professionally or not, Nick already has a lot to tell his future kids about. Notre Dame lacrosse player, Notre Dame football player and, most of all, University of Notre Dame graduate.
Last Saturday, while our football team was at Virginia and I was watching the game at home, I had the opportunity to sit back and witness the obsession with college football that takes over the Twitterverse every weekend.
On my timeline, specifically, I had a first row seat to the obsession with Notre Dame football.
From an outsider's perspective, it's exactly that - obsessive. And if you really think about it, it is weird; why do people care so much about Notre Dame football?
It's really a question that could be asked about diehard fans of any sport. The simple, and true, answer is that sports are just innately emotional. They provide fans a sense of identity and pride. Not to mention, sports are just simply entertaining. But, all of these generic reasons really don't suffice when trying to answer the question, why Notre Dame football?
People might say it's the tradition, the legacy, or the rich history. Yet, it's so much more than that. It's extremely personal for every person.
When you're a freshman at Notre Dame and you start making friends, you find that there is this scale of students and how strong their connection is to Notre Dame football. On one extreme are the students whose great great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, and father all played football at Notre Dame. On the other end are those students who never identified as a Notre Dame football fan until they were forced into it after receiving their acceptance letter.
Wherever you may fall on the scale, or if you're one of the loud and proud subway alumni, everyone has their own personal reason for loving (and obsessing) over Notre Dame football. It is so much deeper and bigger than just a sense of pride and an emotional connection.
For me, above all else, Notre Dame football has been a huge part of the strong relationship I have with my dad. While our Notre Dame degrees are a commonality that we are both immensely proud of, Notre Dame football has played a large role in forming the bond that exists between us long before I received my degree.
It started when I was young and we would watch the games together every Saturday. I didn't know much in kindergarten but I knew I was going to Notre Dame for college. Did I know how hard it was to get into? No, but I knew there was Notre Dame football and I knew that Ruth Riley was awesome.
When I finally achieved my dream and enrolled at Notre Dame, my dad and I had a rule that if he wasn't in town for a game or if the team was away, I would call him after the game to talk about it, even if we lost and neither of us had much to say.
Our bond, I'll admit, is more than just Notre Dame football. Growing up, I played AAU basketball and for a good 4 years, our summers consisted of traveling to different basketball tournaments all over the midwest and beyond. My dad was always there on those trips, from Chicago to Atlanta to Tennessee, and he was there in Cincinnati when I shattered my ankle and needed surgery.
AAU tournaments don't exist in my life anymore but I like to think Notre Dame football has allowed us to keep that tradition of traveling the country together alive. We went to Oklahoma during my sophomore year to see our team take down the Sooners. Of course, that year, we also traveled to Miami for the National Championship. Last year, my senior year, we went down to Florida State together and this year, we will go to Clemson (let's pray for a W in South Carolina because our road record is currently a disappointing 1-2).
I guess my point is that Notre Dame football is so much more to us than just a team. Of course, all of that emotional pride stuff is a huge part of it but, to put it simply, it's been a way for me to hang out with my dad.
Of course, we talk about more than just Notre Dame football but I think about 90% of our conversations, at least during the fall, include something about Notre Dame football.
I think I'm writing all of this now because I never truly realized what Notre Dame football meant to me until I wasn't a student anymore. When you are a student and you try to think about why it means so much to you, it's kind of an obvious answer. It's your school; you're surrounded by it constantly and it's just a part of you.
Of course, Notre Dame is still a part of me and always will be. It's still my school, but it's not the same. The student goggles are off now and, even though I work in athletics and am still surrounded by it, I finally have a different point of view. I can see how huge this tradition really is and see how much it really means to people. Not only to fans across the country but to me and my life.
It seems kind of silly to make such a big deal out of one college football team. But, it becomes special when we can look past the flair and hooplah of college football and remember why we care so much in the first place. Because, whether or not we like to admit it, we care a whole lot. And that's okay.
My stories don't even begin to compare to the countless I've heard from so many fans about why Notre Dame is so special to them. If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear your story. After all, everyone has one.
When you work at Fighting Irish Media, you never know who you might run into on any given day. It's common for notable athletes, musicians, and actors to visit campus, and sometimes we're lucky enough to meet them.
On Thursday, that notable person on campus was Eddie George. George was an All-American running back at Ohio State and won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. He was taken in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) and was with the Oilers/Titans for 8 years. In that time, George was named Rookie of the Year, appeared in four consecutive Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl. Following a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys, George retired from the game in 2005 with 10,441 career rushing yards under his belt.
George is pretty familiar with South Bend. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, back when the Hall used to be in downtown SB.
So, you could say he's kind of a big deal.
While George didn't have time to stop by the FIM office, he was nice enough to chat with me for about 3 minutes while he walked from the Gug to his car, rushing off to catch a flight to his next destination.
George was on campus with Sirius XM as a host for their College Football Camp Tour alongside former NFL coach, scout, and executive Phil Savage and Mark "The Packman" Packer.
"We go around to all the top teams in the country in college football and we figure out what they're up to, what they're doing," said George. "It's a great chance to promote the program."
George and the Sirius XM crew drove in on Wednesday from Columbus, Ohio, where they were visiting George's alma mater Ohio State.
Throughout the day, they met with Notre Dame coaches and players and watched the Irish practice, getting a feel for the team.
"I've only seen one practice but, based off what I've seen, I know that they're a team that definitely believes in competitive excellence," said George. "What I mean by that is they're always competing against one another, trying to make everyone around them better."
One day isn't a lot of time to get to know a team. But, it was enough time for George to pick up on some key aspects of the Notre Dame culture.
"Just talking to everybody around here, the culture is that they truly believe they can go to the next level and really compete for a national championship this year," he said. "This could be a really special year for them because of the closeness of this football team."
So, does George think that Notre Dame can make it to the playoff?
"Notre Dame is returning so many starters this year, 17 starters, and there's some expectations that they could be one of the four teams in the playoff," he said. "They have the players to do it, the schedule to do it, and they certainly have the brand to do it. So, I'm really impressed with what I've seen from them so far."
While George believes Notre Dame has everything in place to make it to the College Football Playoff, when I asked him who would win between Ohio State and Notre Dame, his answer was not surprising.
"There's only one choice. Scarlet and grey runs through my blood, so that's about it."