Student equipment managers help run University of Arizona football

By Michelle A. Monroe

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010

Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010 23:09

Imagine tossing passes to Nick Foles, hearing the impact as players attack each other and sprinting to the end zone as the Wildcats score the winning touchdown.

For 15 students, it’s not a dream; it’s their job.

“I’ve always loved football since growing up and I figured coming to college I wanted to work in athletics. I sought out to find a job in football and this was the first one that got picked up,” said Robert Lloyd, student equipment manager and sociology junior.

Student managers work about 18-20 hours a week in the office and handle the set up and take down for each practice and game, according to Wendell Neal, associate athletic director for UA Equipment Operations.

For a typical home game, managers work a 12-hour day, but have no complaints.

“We do work a lot of hours but it’s not bad, I’m used to it by now and it’s good experience for just learning the business,” said Jordan Gobel, marketing junior and student equipment manager for the football team.

Game Day is one of the best parts of the job, Lloyd says.

“Just the excitement built around, going to the stadium and seeing all the fans,” he added. “I’m what they call a ball boy and that makes you feel like you’re really part of a game because without you they wouldn’t have a football to play with.”

Some of the managers prefer to be on the sidelines than in the Zona Zoo.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Jordan Bates, student equipment manager and interdisciplinary studies senior studying communication, sports management and political science. “In the Zona Zoo you have screaming fans but down there you hear the drama of the game the hits on the sideline and it’s a much different perspective and I love it.”

The students have also managed to get on TV a time or two.

“At USC they actually had a shot of me after the game winning touchdown and I got a text from my brother saying I was on TV,” Bates said. “They Tivo-ed it.”

Working on the sidelines comes with extra pressure.

“I’m much calmer now than the first couple times, it was very nerve wracking at first,” Bates said. “I was afraid of dropping a pass during pre-game and the crowd seeing it.”

Only five equipment managers go on the road with the team, and they work about 10 hours a day, Wendell said.

“It’s a privilege to go on a road game so you gotta work hard, be passionate about what you do,” Bates said.

“Actually this is going to be my first game where I’m going to be traveling,” Gobel said. “I’m really excited.”

Working on the road provides different experiences.

“I do remember when we were in Iowa last year I was running balls on the Iowa sideline. So I was dealing with them (the players) harassing me,” Lloyd said. “Just like ‘Get back on the Arizona side,’ just negative toward Arizona, I don’t listen to them too much.”

At home games Zona Zoo rushing the field adds to the sideline stress.

“I really didn’t appreciate it,” Lloyd said on the Zona Zoo rushing early at Game Day. “Especially being a ball boy you gotta look out for the stuff because they come and try and take the balls from you.”

Home game schedule for equipment managers

11 a.m. — Wake up, get to stadium

Set up locker room: Pull jerseys over pads, clean helmets, vacuum, and locker equipment

Field: Water, ice, equipment trunks

Communication: Headsets for coaches

Warm up: Shag balls, run and set up drills

Post game: clean up and store all equipment

11 p.m. — Head out

About Michelle A. Monroe

Copy editor for The Signal, in Santa Clarita, CA.

4 comments

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