Behind the Scene Saviors

Susan Fanelli, Sports Editor

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Before, during and after games, Tulane’s equipment management team plays an integral role in making the football season run smoothly. 

Operating behind the scenes at football games, those who make up the equipment management team are the unsung heroes. They work with the football staff during practices as well as games, both at home in New Orleans or wherever the team may travel during the season.

“Our job is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff,” assistant equipment manager Tim Patterson said. “We’re there during the game in case a helmet breaks. We’re over there on the fly. If anything messes up, we’re the guys to fix it.”

Led by director Lyle Williams, the team consists of five fully staffed members, among them Patterson and assistant equipment manager Devin Charles-Hubbard. The football team also staffs 11 student workers selected through a tryout that takes place in the previous spring. 

Being a student staff member requires both physical and mental aptitude. Athletic ability is necessary for staffers to keep up with player drills, but being punctual, anticipative and adaptable are equally important for handling the often unpredictable nature of practices. Sophomore Tara Goolsby, a student staff member, described another vital part of being on the equipment team.

“You need tough skin, because during practice… there’s a lot of intensity,” Goolsby said. “Emotions are running really high.”

The equipment team works seven days a week tending to the needs of the program. Hours spent working depend on the needs of the football team. Sometimes, the work day can only be two or three hours. On game days, the work day can be twelve hours.

“Our schedule could change on the fly, and then we just have to be ready for it,” Patterson said. “It could be an easy day or it could be a long day. It depends on everyone’s mood. Being able to adapt is a big skill. It’s a bit of a chaotic environment.”

Despite its name, the equipment team does not solely deal with players’ belongings. Aside from handling the football team’s equipment, the staff must also help run drills, load and unload trucks, tidy locker rooms and set up the communications systems for the coaches during game day. The equipment team also runs a window that allows athletes to come and request extra apparel or fix broken gear. 

Due to the expectations placed upon their shoulders, the equipment team’s goal is to do their job so well that they become a quiet but needed presence on the field. 

Some of their efforts are noticed much further outside the school. For example, the staff gathers during the season to prepare the team’s uniforms, deciding on color and style. This years’ uniforms, along with the reintroduction of the “Angry Wave,” were so successful that they have been featured multiple times on ESPN. 

Even with the recognition it has gotten this season, the equipment management team continues to operate as usual. There is a notion among the staff that the best job is a job that naturally fits into the hectic schedules of the players and coaches. According to Patterson, the less time the members’ names are mentioned, the better the staff is performing.

“If you don’t hear from us, it’s a good day from us,” Patterson said. “If no one ever says our names, then I go home happy.”