When it comes to storing football equipment, it’s one thing to have great equipment room, well-organized, a place for everything and everything in its place. But come game day, coaches and equipment managers must prepare for controlled chaos.
There are many items that need to be brought from the equipment room to the football field. Whether it’s practice, a home game or an away game, University of Wisconsin Badgers equipment manager Sam Wrobel, is responsible for making sure the team has what it needs.
“We have about 10 equipment trunks that travel with us to games,” says Wrobel. “Sports medicine has theirs as well. They essentially serve as a traveling equipment room for us. When we’re on the road, and someone breaks a shoelace or forgets to pack a kneed pad, we need to have everything there and ready to go.”
Knowing which equipment to bring – and how much of it – is a soft science when it comes to football, and at the FBS level, having a piece of equipment available when it’s needed most is sacrosanct.
“It’s not good enough to not have an item,” says Wrobel. “We have back-up cleats for nearly everyone who’s playing. That way, if we do have an issue, we can usually get them what they need and hopefully not have them miss any key playing time.”
Proper equipment storage is also a major consideration. It’s one of those things that occurs in the background of every program, but it is absolutely essential for success. If you don’t notice how your equipment storage works, it is likely your equipment manager is doing his job well. It’s one of those jobs that — when done well — disappears from sight.
There are other aspects to storage that aren’t readily apparent to coaches unless they’ve been spending lots of time around equipment rooms. For example, eliminating sharp corners and exposed edges can save programs money. Round edges prevent accidental ripping and tearing.
“All of our edges are rounded on our high-density storage units,” says Wrobel. “When we’re talking about storing t-shirts or compression shirts, we’re talking about storing hundreds of them. Even if you’re getting a few of them caught on corners and ripping, you’re losing inventory and losing money.”
Now, extend that across not only the football program, but equipment storage for multiple sports and you can begin to understand how something as simple as rounded corners in your storage systems and in your transport equipment can keep an athletics department from tossing money down a hole.
“Obviously, we budget for extra items in certain areas, but there are some things that we don’t order a ton of extras,” says Wrobel. “Most schools don’t have the ability to order lots of extra items in general. Rounded corners and soft edges are simple, but they’re effective.”
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The Badgers also view the finish of their new storage units as important. A smooth, powder-coated finish that is well-ventilated is the goal. This wouldn’t necessarily occur to most coaches or administrators, but a smooth, clean, well-ventilated finish keeps equipment dry and in the best-possible shape.
“Often, we’ll get shirts or sweatshirts in that aren’t going to be used for months, even until the next season, and so of course, we’ll store these items in back of the equipment we’re using right now,” says Wrobel. “So, we want to make sure that everything was well-ventilated.
“If we have it on a well-ventilated shelf, then it’s not getting moldy or sitting in the back corner of some closet. When we do issue it, it comes out looking brand-new. A properly finished helmet-storage unit means we aren’t putting a ton of helmets one on top of the other. Each one has its own cubby. This absolutely prolongs the life of the equipment we use.”
This article was written by Paul Markgraff, managing editor of AFCA Magazine and AFCA Insider. Follow him on Twitter at Football Coach Daily.