Notre Dame Tradition of Gold Helmets
Notre Dame is a university that is full of tradition. From the trumpeters playing the alma matter inside the Golden Dome of the administration building to the pre-game Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Notre Dame and the "Walk" across campus to the stadium, Notre Dame holds to its traditions and protects the brand and mystique that the university has come to represent. The traditional all gold football helmets have been a long standing brand of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, there is an old tradition where the Student Managers traditionally paint the helmets before each game. This tradition includes using paint mixed with gold dust from the original Golden Dome on the Notre Dame campus. This also produced a different look to the helmets each game. The University recently changed the design of their legendary football helmets.
Why Refresh the Brand of the Gold Helmets
Jack Swarbrick, Director of Athletics for Notre Dame University said "Symbolically, the helmets have always been intended to reflect the dome: the most graphic symbol of this University." When asked when was it determined that there was a change needed in the color of the football helmets, Swarbrick responded that his wife asked him during an opening game a couple of years ago, "When did we start wearing brown helmets". It caused Swarbrick to contemplate what Notre Dame was trying to achieve with the helmets. It always came back to the connection with the dome. Ryan Grooms, Notre Dame Football Equipment Manager, said "I have taken many walks around campus especially on game day, looking up at the dome and realizing that's what we deserve, thats what we should have. The dome is a true representation of Notre Dame. It's is our way of giving back to the university, making sure that we are a true representation of Notre Dame as well." (SEE FULL VIDEO HERE)
Preserving The Brand: The Process of Reinventing the Gold Helmets
Notre Dame started the process of reinventing the helmet last year. Hydro Graphics Inc., an Oregon based graphics firm worked for the past year to develop the helmets for Notre Dame. The printing process used to create the new helmets is called water transfer printing and Hydro Graphics Inc. has trademarked the process calling it HydroSkin®. Currently, HydroSkin® technology is the only system approved for use by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). You may have already semen some Hydro Graphics creations. Hydro Graphics was responsible for the helmets in use by the Rose Bowl Champion - Oregon Ducks as well as many other NCAA and Professional sports franchises. The team went through 12 iterations of the helmet until they got the one that they were happy with. One that adequately represented the dome. Hydro Graphics was able to incorporated the 24k gold dust from the dome into the final painting process of the helmets. This preserved the brand of the Gold helmets of the Fighting Irish.
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