Hunter Bivin sets the GOLD standard in Notre Dame football player development
Former Notre Dame offensive lineman Hunter Bivin has a new role with the Irish as the Notre Dame Football Director of Player Development. From internships to community service to mental health, he's making sure to set the GOLD standard.
When former Bivin graduated from Notre Dame in 2017, he had no idea what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
"I actually heard a speech in my graduation ceremony that talked about helping others and closing the gap between us and those on the margins and it was honestly a life changing speech," said Bivin, Notre Dame's Director of Player Development. "And right then and there, it hit me, like, I've been through some stuff, I've seen just about everything I could see as a football student athlete at Notre Dame, I can help people just from my experiences alone."
Bivin grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky where football was family.
His dad, Randy, was an offensive lineman at Evansville and his big brother- Harris played at Murray State.
"My dad was my hero. I looked up to him and everything that he did. He played college football, played three sports and he was my role model in everything that I did. I was 14 when he passed away," Bivin said.
His father was just 52-years-old when he died of a heart attack.
"Losing him at 14, that's such an important time in a man's growth, was really hard for me. That same summer, I have an older brother who went on to play college football. My older brother left that summer as well. So my family went from four to two really quick. It was just me and my mom. And I think that experience of having to learn the things that are required to be the man of the house and growing up fast like that, really set the standard for how the rest of my life has gone so far. And being independent and being driven and doing things on your own and finding that intrinsic motivation. You can either let outside circumstances crush you or you can thrive and use them as motivation. And that's what I did," Bivin said.
Playing football at Notre Dame was a dream come true, but fate had other plans for Bivin.
"Coming out of high school I was a top 100 recruit in the country. Got to Notre Dame and had 3 heart surgeries of my own," Bivin said.
Bivin's heart condition is different than his dad's.
Bivin has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes a rapid heartbeat.
"One Friday morning while I was working out. Mike McGlinchey I stood up and my heart was like thumping. I was like, 'Mike feel this. This isn't right.' He was like, 'No, you should probably go to the trainer.' Went to the trainer, Rob Hunt, he put the pulse thing on my finger and he was like, 'That can't be right.' Took it off and my heart rate was like 250 beats per minute. And he was like, 'Ok, we need to get you to the hospital,'" Bivin said.
His playing career did not follow the path he had hoped, but Bivin says that's ok.
“I found my role and I found what my calling was and where I fit into the overall success in the program and I took a lot of pride in that role. And I think the lessons that I learned from not playing and still being a consistent figure in the program has really shaped how I'm able to do my job now," Bivin said.
He uses his life experiences to relate to the next generation of players.
"Bivin's a person who cares about the players. He's been in our shoes. He's been a person who's been a part of the program, played on the football team. He knows what we go through. So having someone who's been through what we've been through means a lot," said Ade Ogundeji, a senior defensive lineman.
Taking the reins in player development, Bivin came up with the GOLD standard, an acronym for Growth Opportunities in Life Development.
"I tried to think of what were the questions I had as a student athlete that I didn't really have a handle on that were not football and not academics. And I came up with: Who you are? Where you want to go? and How to make the world a better place," said Bivin.
Bivin has implemented them at Notre Dame by way of internships and study abroad opportunities, community service projects, mental health support, financial literacy and more.
As time moves on since his father's death, Bivin continues to honor him in his everyday life.
"It's been 9 years since he passed away and I still think about it every single day. And think about what would make him proud. What would he do in this certain situation. And while there are questions that I wish I could have asked him I still try to think of the things that I did learn from him. And the time that he was around," Bivin said.