While even Midwestern Irish fans might come for a few home games each year, usher Paul Matthew journeyed 15 hours from Ottawa to South Bend for each and every one of Notre Dame’s home games this season. A volunteer usher since 2002, Matthew recently signed on as a full-time usher. He said he has seen a positive progression on the field and in the stands in recent years. “The team’s come so far – if we don’t do it this year, the future looks very bright,” Matthews said. “I think this year I’ve noticed the crowd’s been louder more often, but the odd thing about Notre Dame is the Stadium is always packed. Other schools have successful years but then during the unsuccessful years the crowds don’t come – not so at Notre Dame. The smiles just got a little bit bigger this year.” Matthew makes a significant trek to see those smiles throughout the season. After a three-hour drive to Syracuse, N.Y., he boards a 12-hour, overnight Amtrak train ride to South Bend, arriving early Friday morning. While he maintains a full-time job at home, working as a statistical analyst for the Canadian government, Matthew said his trips to Notre Dame do not complicate his working life. “From a work standpoint, it doesn’t affect work[ing for the government,]” Matthews said. “I get five weeks of vacation each year, and I’m there for seven games – that’s fourteen days. I still have three weeks of vacation time, and because it’s only two days at a time I still have three work days in between.” Matthew said his interest in American college football is not the norm for Canadians. “To the Canadians this is all a foreign concept, college football,” Matthews said. “When I first started doing this it was a true culture shock, and then I realized it was a pretty cool gig.” Despite his usual Friday-morning arrival, Matthew said his responsibilities typically don’t begin until early Saturday. “We have a meeting [Saturday morning] to find out what’s going on that day, how many people to expect on the sidelines, who is coming, who will help with the players’ entrance: What’s happening in the stadium that day,” Matthews said. Matthew is usually stationed near the north end zone by the tunnel and helps control the crowd and facilitate the entrance of the team, coaches, media and notable fans. “A lot of the work is pregame: Some people who have tickets to the game get access to the field, some people just have the pregame pass that allows them to be on one side of the tunnel until just after the Irish football team enters the game, some people have field passes and are allowed on the field for the entire game in a different area,” Matthews said. “You also have to separate recruits … they go on the side with the Irish and get to hang there during the game.” While he does not have much direct communication with those on the field, Matthew said he has gained a new appreciation for all the people working behind the scenes for the football program. “They have a job to do, so I’m an observer,” Matthews said. “There’s some minimal dialogue, very minor small talk … but I have developed a perception of the network behind the team: the trainers, coaches, doctors, the people who tape and retape the players when they get hurt.” Matthews said he has been awestruck by some of the people who have passed through the tunnel. “[Basketball legend] David Robinson was coming down the tunnel because his son was coming to Notre Dame … I made sure I was the person who said ‘Welcome to Notre Dame, Mr. Robinson,’” Matthews said. “He stopped, turned around and stepped towards me, offering me his hand to shake … I had to calm down after that; that was a personal highlight.” Matthews said he was thrilled to meet the Canadian Olympians during the tribute to the Notre Dame Olympians earlier this season. “I knew about the women’s basketball player [Natalie Achonwa], but I didn’t know about the two women on our soccer team [Melissa Tancredi and Candace Chapman],” Matthews said. “They stopped and introduced themselves to me – famous Canadians introducing themselves to me, an unfamous Canadian.” Matthews said the unpredictability is one of his favorite parts of the job. “That’s the beauty of the job: you never know who’s going to show up that day,” he said. “All I can do is to try to take it in stride and do my best … I have a job to do.”
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) WNY News Now Stock Image.JAMESTOWN — A Jamestown man was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs after he visited the New York State Police Barracks on an unrelated matter.Troopers say James Morris, 37, was charged July 19, after he drove to State Police Headquarters in Jamestown to report damage to his vehicle from a previous incident.While interviewing Morris, Troopers said they observed him in an impaired state.Morris was placed under arrest after police say he failed standardized field sobriety tests. Morris was then processed and released with a traffic ticket.Morris is scheduled to appear in the town of Ellicott Court at a later date.
Elijah Hughes tattooed his leg shortly after Syracuse’s season-ending loss to Duke last year. Starting just below the knee and reaching down to his ankle, black letters spell out “LYBB.”“Last year being broke,” Hughes explained.It’s not just about money. The 2017-18 basketball season was Hughes’ last year being broken physically, mentally and emotionally.The tattoo symbolizes his struggles from the past year, enduring an entire season without playing competitive basketball due to NCAA transfer rules after he left East Carolina the year prior. An entire season watching from the sideline as the Orange made an NCAA Tournament run to the Sweet 16. An entire season of frustration, because he couldn’t help. But Nov. 6, in SU’s season opener against Eastern Washington inside the Carrier Dome, Hughes’ one-year hiatus from meaningful college game action will finally end.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text,“Seeing everybody there and the excitement around it,” Hughes said of last season, “I wanted to physically be a part of it. So that was hard.”The frustration mounted at times last season, but it never took away from Hughes’ game, his father Wayne said.“It’s like when you feel like you’re hungry, you’re ready to eat,” Wayne said. “You’re not mad at the food, you’re just ready to eat. He just has a hunger in him that he could not feed and that was very obvious.“You could tell he was starving to play.”Each week, Wayne advised his son to focus on tangible improvement. If he improved something small in his dribble or added a few more pounds of muscle, it would amount to substantial progress. Wayne believed small improvement over time would result in a successful redshirt year.Because he couldn’t play in games, Hughes took advantage of each practice. He guarded preseason All-ACC teammate Tyus Battle and learned Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.“His shots gotten a lot better,” Battle said. “He’s in much better shape.”On game days in the Carrier Dome, Hughes sat courtside with the team. But sitting so close to the court never made it seem further away. While his teammates slipped on white and orange jerseys, Hughes sported a sweat suit.Four to five hours before game time, Syracuse players warmed up on one side of the court. Hughes often stood near assistant coach Gerry McNamara on the other side of the court, working on the Hughes’ jumper.“When everyone was getting ready to play, and you just had to wait and watch and wear a sweat suit,” senior guard Ky Feldman said. “That was toughest for him.”Battle was roommates with former-SU player Matthew Moyer who sat out his first year with the team. He knew how the time off breaks a player down emotionally and mentally.“It’s always tough,” Battle said. “He loved playing basketball and not being able to play for a whole entire season is rough.”Hughes felt isolated at times during away games, Wayne said. While the team traveled, Hughes stayed on campus. There was no one to practice with.During those trips, Hughes returned to his home in Beacon, New York. Hughes played with friends at nearby colleges or in local men’s leagues, anything to ensure a basketball was in his hands in a semicompetitive environment.,Hughes wanted to be challenged physically so that he could build himself back up better and stronger. He cut off “baby fat,” replacing it with muscle, he said. He focused on conditioning, his 3-point shot and playing as a forward, rather than his traditional shooting guard position.“He really played just about every possession of practice, with one group or another,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He very seldom came out.”It took six months before he was finally cleared to travel with the team. When Syracuse qualified for the NCAA Tournament, Hughes went to Detroit with the Orange.Still, something was different. He stood, watching on the sideline, as his team downed Arizona State, TCU and Michigan State before eventually falling in the Sweet 16 to Duke.At that moment, walking off the court with his team, it was the end of Hughes’ redshirt season. It was his last time “being broke.”Whenever Hughes worked out alongside Feldman last season, the two often talked about Hughes playing in games and how he could help the team.They discussed celebrations after hitting 3s, the games they’d travel to and what would happen when Hughes put on the Syracuse uniform.That time has finally come.During Syracuse’s first scrimmage against the College of Saint Rose, Hughes walked into the Carrier Dome locker room.This time, below his white game shorts, the letters “LYBB” spread down his leg.“You don’t play for a year and a half and then you play again,” Hughes said. “It’s like you’re reborn.”Cover photo by Josh Shub-Selzter | Staff Photographer,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.