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Football: Keeping the game going

Equipment managers are vital to UL’s success

They might be the hardest working people in ball business.

Don’t believe it? Hey, you try fitting out a 105-man team and its periphery groups with every conceivable piece of equipment necessary to play college football, including some equipment you’ve never heard of or never knew was important.

The world of the equipment manager is far removed from merely throwing a helmet and a set of shoulder pads around every body. Each player’s equipment is molded and adjusted for his own particular needs and functions, and all precisely governed in its use by NCAA and safety regulations.

Cleaning, sanitizing and reworking all the pads for every game is routine. Game uniforms, practice uniforms, shorts for non-contact work, all have to be clean and ready.

It’s not just about wearing apparel, either. Those headsets the coaches use … their responsibility, and guess who gets yelled at if they malfunction. Balls? You’ve got to have them to play. Something breaks on the sideline, and it has to be fixed or replaced in the heat of battle.

Tons of practice gear – dummies, sleds, teaching aids, etc. – must be obtained, readied and moved around to facilitate team preparations.

It’s a world of packing and unpacking, loading trucks with trunks of equipment, not to mention all the players’ equipment bags. It’s a 13-hour drive to South Carolina this weekend, driving all night Thursday and Friday morning, and no sleep upon arrival … it’s time to get ready for Friday afternoon practice, and when that’s done the locker room and sidelines have to be set up for game day.

By the time the UL football team faces the Gamecocks Saturday night, the equipment crew has already put in more than a full week. When the game’s over and the team’s headed home on its charter flight, those guys have only just begun their 13-hour drive back to Lafayette.

When they get back, it’s prepare for Sunday night practice, a week’s worth of drills and the next game. The circle repeats itself. UL plays its next three at home, and home games – albeit without the marathon drive – require even more duties.

"People don’t have any idea what goes into this," said equipment manager Lyle Williams, who with older brother Lynn will oversee a 12-man staff for this weekend’s game. "You’ve really got to be around it to realize how much preparation goes into getting ready every day."

 

John Rowland/The Advertiser

UL equipment managers like Matt Bellard will be busy packing soon for UL’s trip to South Carolina.

A week in their shoes

 

The schedule and travel itinerary for UL’s equipment manager staff, including some – but by no means all – activities for this week:

 

Tuesday

Work during team practice, pack travel trunks, pack coaches’ gear, pack uniforms, pack players’ travel gear

Wednesday

Work practice, change helmet and shoulder pad hardware and helmet decals, sanitize helmets and shoulder pads

 

Thursday

 

  • 2-6 p.m. – Work during team practice

     

  • 6-9 p.m. – Pack players’ travel bags, clean helmets, pack truck

     

  • 9 p.m. Depart for South Carolina (drive overnight)

     

    Friday

     

  • Noon – Arrive at Williams-Brice Stadium

     

  • Noon-3 p.m. – Set up for practice

     

  • 3-5 p.m. – work during team practice

     

  • 5-7 p.m. – Set up locker room for game day

    Saturday

     

  • 1 p.m. Depart for game

     

  • 1:30-4 p.m. – Set up sidelines, coaches’ phones

     

  • 4:45 p.m. – Team arrives

     

  • 5-7 p.m. – pregame

     

  • 7-10 p.m. – game

     

  • 10-11 p.m. – Pack up phones, sideline gear, uniforms, coaches’ gear, pack truck

     

  • 11 p.m. – Depart for Lafayette (drive overnight)

     

    Sunday

     

  • 1 p.m. – Arrive at UL athletic complex

     

  • 1-7 p.m. – Unload truck, wash game gear, store equipment

     

  • 7:45 p.m. – work during team practice

     

  • 10 p.m.-Midnight – Wash practice gear