Notre Dame Basketball

Matt Farrell and Family Get a Christmas Surprise

December 19, 2016

As the clock ticked to zero and Notre Dame celebrated its 10th win of the season, junior point guard Matt Farrell got a surprise of his life from his brother Bo.

Bo Farrell, a 1st Lieutenant in the 3rd Calvary Regiment, was stationed at OB Fenty, Afghanistan, but made the trip to South Bend to surprise the Farrell family with a Christmas message. However, at the end of the video message, it became very apparent Bo was not in Afghanistan, but rather in the locker room in Purcell Pavilion.

I didn’t know he was in here,” Matt Farrell stated. “I thought he was doing a thing from over there. When it zoomed out and I saw it was the locker room, it was nuts.

“I thought it was a Christmas message. Coach Brey knew – I’m pissed at him. I’m pissed at the whole staff. They all knew. It’s just awesome.”

The whole surprise was weeks in the making, as Bo included the Notre Dame basketball staff and office into the moment.

“This was a two-month long event that was coordinated through the Notre Dame athletic department,” said Bo Farrell. “I can’t stress enough how much they have helped me out. The support was unbelievable.  

“No one knew except for my grandmother, who kept trying to send me packages, so I was like ‘Alright, it’s time to stop sending packages.’ She helped me out and made sure my mom and dad weren’t looking up top during the game.

As Farrell stated, few knew of the surprise, but Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey was well-aware of the surprise.

“He is very upset with me,” Brey laughed when he was asked about his point guard. “They wanted to do it for the Villanova game and I said we weren’t doing that. The family didn’t know either.

“We set this up probably six weeks ago. Austin Burgett picked Bo up and had him stashed away at his apartment for the last 24 hours.”

During the video, static and a delay in communication really sold the fact that Farrell was still in Afghanistan, which was a surprise to Brey.

“I was getting chills,” explained Brey. “I got emotional and I was tearing up. It was setup so great We had the flag behind him and we even had the video skipping like the satellite was bad from over in Afghanistan.

“It was really neat. I’ve that before, but to do it here around Christmas was really cool.”

The secret took its toll on Bo, as he had to make adjustments to his own schedule to not give away any hints he was back in the USA.

“It was amazing,” stated Farrell. “The past two months of hiding everything from my family about coming home, I had to hide everything. I talk all the time with my family. I would tell them I am doing great and I had some things going on, but I would have to match the time difference, so I’d have to wake up at 3 a.m. here to talk to them and go back to sleep.”

Farrell is having a breakout season and his brother has been keeping tabs from overseas. The pride of his younger brother was extremely apparent and made the moment even more special for the Notre Dame point guard.

“I cannot stress enough how proud of this kid I am,” said Bo Farrell when asked about his younger brother. “He is developing into a leader on the court and he has continued to show that hard work pays off. When we go home, he’s going to be in the garage dribbling and continuing to work.

“He was labeled a gym rat in high school and he has continued to maintain that. He will continue to succeed, because he works hard. The sky is the limit.”

The night was special for the Farrell family, but the holiday season will be even more special when the reflect on the surprise over the next few days.

“I am at a loss for words,” Matt Farrell said. "The last time we talked, he told me the middle of February, so I was real excited about that. He got me. His friends are here too. I was wondering why they came for a Colgate game."

“I am just really happy right now.”
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