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Catching Up With Olivia Mitchell (’16, Cheer)

Jun 4, 2019, 1:41 PM EDT

Dorm: Badin Hall
Major: Marketing and English
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Mitchell works with the Notre Dame football program as assistant director of football operations.

Why did you choose to attend Notre Dame?
“I came to Notre Dame for a diversity recruitment weekend and fell in love with it. The community, the athletics, the academics and there was such a different feel being on campus. My first sporting event was a hockey game. I had never seen a hockey game before, but the student section was crazy. To me, that was one of the highlights because I had never experienced anything like that in high school. It was great to know that the student body was so ingrained in the sport culture.”

What was your experience like as a member of the cheerleading team?
“It was amazing. I didn’t imagine that I could be myself so fully with such a diverse group of people. It was also about learning their experiences as students, as people and teaching them about mine as well. It was a place where I was able to grow so much as a person because I had all these supportive people around me.

“My favorite trip was the USC football trip. I had never been to California. We were hosted by a couple who were very involved in the Notre Dame club out there even though they didn’t go to Notre Dame. They took us paddle boarding, we had a picnic on the beach and the Monogram Club contributed to our trip to Disneyland. That was definitely a highlight for me.”

Olivia Mitchell-SBT

How did you become involved with the football program?
“During my freshman year I emailed everybody in athletics who I could find an email for because I was looking for a job. I was able to get into recruiting with the football program. I worked all four years in recruiting and gained relationships, which are crucial in this industry. I had several internships over the summer and my job right out of school was with the CFP (College Football Playoff). Jack Swarbrick helped me along that path by talking to people for me. It was a year-long internship and once that was coming to an end, I got a call here that said the operations position was opening up. Of course, if you’re going to do operations anywhere, you’d hope to do it for a place you’re passionate about. Notre Dame is a place that has such a reach, from going to California and to Ireland in a couple years and it’s a place that will challenge me.”

What are the best and most demanding parts of your job?
“The best and most demanding parts are working with the student-athletes. The best part is that you see these young men grow into mature adults. I always talk about the transition of the juniors from the season to the spring. It’s the biggest maturity difference as they become leaders on the team. Watching them grow and being able to support them is the most fulfilling part.

“When I got here, I had some operations experience from the CFP, but I didn’t really understand what it was like to work with a team. Communicating with the student-athletes and dealing with their demanding schedules, but also needing information from them, was a challenge. Learning how to communicate with them to get the best out of them and get the information that I need for coach, is one of the biggest challenges. You’re also dealing with a lot of different personalities and time demands, but it’s fun and when things are going well, it’s amazing.”

What are your career aspirations as you look at the next 5-10 years?
“It changes every day. Because I was blessed to start off so young and be able to do something that I’m very passionate about, operations is definitely the path and where I see myself years from now. Where that falls, I’m not exactly sure. Whether it’s in college athletics or professional, I’m still figuring that part out. I do know that I want to be in a support role, encouraging and helping athletes.”

Looking back from your first visit to campus to now, what does it mean to be part of the Notre Dame family?
“If you would have told me in high school that Notre Dame would mean this much to me, I probably wouldn’t have understood it at all. That’s because I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for the Notre Dame family, the alumni network that we have and the Monogram Club. I had this vision of what I wanted to do, but there aren’t many people who really understand athletics or football offices. To be able to reach out to people who are former athletes now working in professional athletics, or former athletes working here at Notre Dame, is great. Being able to use that network and being blessed to have that network really propelled my career. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”


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