Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Ball is Coming!!!!!!

I have been catching a little flack for not blogging very much this month of February. As I have told people, even though we have been busy, especially having early morning workouts twice a week, and having to arrive at 5am those mornings, the work has not been very news worthy.

This past week, we started re-fitting our players with their helmets and shoulder pads, and we have fit some of our new players.

This Friday we have Spring Practice number 1, and we are very excited about that! It is always exciting to get started back up out on the field, but this Spring Practice will be much more exciting with new Offensive and Defensive Coordinators.

The players have been working hard, as usual, in the weightroom and in the early morning workouts.

We do have some exciting news coming though, which should be coming early this week. Stay tuned

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exciting Times in Tucson

Besides all the fun we have each day in the equipment room at McKale, there are always fun things to do in Tucson as well. Not only do we enjoy being able to play golf at some of the greatest golf courses in the country, we also enjoy watching the best golfers in the world play each February here in Tucson at the Accenture World Match Play Championship.

This year, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are not playing, which is a bummer, but it is good news too because the crowd yesterday for practice rounds were not near as crowded as when they are here. It is a great venue anyway for being able to get up close and personal with the golfers, but smaller crowds make it even better.

Wednesday, the official play starts for the Match Play Championship. We have two former Wildcats that will be competing in the event again, Jim Furyk, who is the #1 seed in the Sam Snead bracket; and Rory Sabbatini, who is the #13 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket. Hopefully they will meet in the Championship! Both guys are great people, and GREAT Wildcats.

Monday and Tuesday's practice rounds are the only day they allow cameras, so I thought I would share some pictures from yesterday.

Tim Pfennig enjoys some lunch from the Walter Hagen Hospitality tent on number 13 green:
View of the number 13 fairway from the Walter Hagen Hospitality tent. Spectators can enjoy live coverage of the event on the big screen TV while watching all the players come through this exciting par 5 hole:

Me with Ross Fisher, #5 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket:
View of number 13 green from the Walter Hagen tent:

Ben Crane interacts with the fans right off of number 10 green:

David Toms makes another appearance at this years event:

Henrick Stenson had had a lot of success in this tournament in the past:

Kenny Perry visits with people while working on the driving range:

Luke Donald talking to his caddie before hitting balls on the range:

Padraig Harrington works hard on the driving range:

Retief Goosen talking to the fans:

Steve Stricker working on the driving range:

Up close with Vijay Singh:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homecoming.....of Sorts

A familiar voice rang throughout the equipment room this morning. I am sitting in my office, and I hear, "BEEEEEENNNNNNNNYYYYYYYYYYYYY". We hear that all the time, especially from the basketball window, but this voice brought back great memories.

We were all happy to see that it was one of our all time favorite players, Jordan Hill, now with the New York Knicks. With the NBA All-Star Game this weekend, we will see more guys just like Jordan. Benny told me that he heard Chase Budinger was due to be here for the weekend games too.

Then, with the Ducks having their shoot around in McKale right after lunch, Benny walked in to my office with Coach Dunlap, now an assistant coach with the Oregon Ducks. Even though Coach Dunlap was only here one year, we became very close to Coach Dunlap. He hung out in the equipment room a lot when he was here last year. Benny told me that he heard that Coach Pennell will be here tonight too, who coached here last year with Coach Dunlap. Hopefully Coach Pennell will stop by the equipment room for his favorite, a Diet Coke.

I was asked the other night, when I was addressing the Sports Marketing Association, what is the best part of my job. I told them that without a doubt, it is the relationships you develop with the student-athletes and coaches, and as I have said many times in these blogs, University of Arizona has had nothing but GREAT people as student-athletes and coaches. As a matter of fact, Tim and I just got a call from the Miami Dolphins equipment manager a few minutes ago, and during my conversation with him I asked him how Lionel Dotson was doing. He said he was doing well, but he immediately commented on what a great human being and nice kid he was. I told him, well, that is how all of our student-athletes are here. It makes me realize just how blessed I am with this job at UofA!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Morning Workouts

You gotta love it! I remember that being the battle cry when I was a student manager, way back in the 70's when I was a student manager at the University of Houston.

That battle cry still holds true today! When that alarm went off at 3:30 this morning so I could be at work by 4:30 this morning, the fact that I love it is what keeps me going after 31 years of doing this job.

What is "it"? "It" is what we do here in the equipment room, taking care of student-athletes and coaches. When you break it all down, we are servants. We are here to provide a service so that student-athletes can be the best they can be, and so that coaches can do their best at coaching without having to worry about the little things.

I had a great opportunity last night to talk to a group of students that are members of the Sports Marketing Association (SMA). They asked me to talk to the group about what is involved in working in Intercollegiate Athletics, or sports in general. I think the purpose was to shed some light to those gathered about what it takes or what is involved with working in this field, whether you are the equipment manager, administrator, or in marketing. Well, I got a lot out of the meeting myself. In sharing with the group my strong feelings about what it takes to be successful in this world of athletics, it made me realize just how fortunate I am to have a small role in this athletic department.

It also made me realize just how much I do love what I do! As I told the group last night, what ever it is you decide to do in life, make sure you will be happy doing it!

After 31 seasons of college football as an equipment manager, I can't remember being so happy with what I do!!!! I also realize that I would not be in the situation I am in right now if it were not for the people I have been able to work with over the years. I have so many people to thank!

This morning, all of us here in McKale say good bye to not only the greatest Athletic Directors of all time, Jim Livengood, but for me, he is someone that I owe so much to. He gave me an opportunity over 20 years ago to work along side of him, and each day with him have the BEST years of my life. Thank you Jim for everything!!!!!

Just remember, You gotta love it!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

We Do Golf Too

We are responsible for the team equipment needs for all 19 of our varsity sports, and one of those teams are Men's Golf.

This past Monday and Tuesday, we hosted our annual Arizona Intercollegiate Invitational at our home golf course, Arizona National. Our team finished in second place, one stroke behind the Cal Golden Bears. Our very own, Rich Saferian (picture with Wendell below), won the individual honors after shooting rounds of 68-66-66 for a 13 under par, three strokes better than the closest competitor.

In finishing second place in the team category, our Wildcats beat some very good competition, which is always present at this very prestigious event. Teams such as: #3 Florida Gators, #10 Texas A&M (last years National Champions), #15 UNLV, #30 San Diego State, #45 New Mexico Lobos and others.

We really enjoy working with the golfers and our two AWESOME coaches, Head Coach Rick LaRose, who has led UofA to National Championships and is in the Golf Hall of Fame; and Assistant Coach, Andy Barnes, who was an All American golfer here.

The equipment room staff just wants to give a huge shout out and congratulations to the 2010 Arizona Intercollegiate Invitational Champion, Rich Saferian!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Exciting Day Today!!!

Well, the day got started for us in the equipment room very early this morning. Today was the first day of winter workouts, run by Coach Edmonds and his GREAT strength and conditioning staff.

Coach Stoops and the Strength and Conditioning staff put a huge emphasis on this portion of the process! The players work very hard for Coach Ed and Mike Stoops! That has been true from the first day they got here!

Then, after we got in from the practice field, we already had a couple of faxes in from High School players who faxed their National Letters of Intent to play for the Wildcats waiting for us in the football office. The coaches feel very good about all the players who signed and faxed in today. We have a reception tonight where many of our fans will come and listen to Coach Stoops talk about each player.

I feel certain all of these players will turn out to be great players and wonderful citizens, just like all of the other players that Coach Stoops has brought into this program.

Below are some pictures from early this morning.

Managers got here at 4:30 this morning to get these workouts ready for the team today:
Mike Baranowski and John Landwehr assist in getting the field ready this morning, way before the sun came up:
Mike Harlow and Zack Risdon get chutes ready:

Mgrs get the field ready early this morning:

Mike Harlow must have thought it was going to snow?????

Zack Risdon works on chutes:

Willie Salzman gets field ready by putting cones by an area that needs to be avoided:

Coach Edmonds looks after this drill, and ALL drills:

Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore out front in this footwork drill:

Coach Hammerschmidt looks on as players run around the hoops:

PVC pipe hoops have always been a staple with this staff for drills:

Players hustling from one station to the next:

Players pushing the weights across the field:

Players working at the footwork drill station:

Players working hard with footwork:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nike is in the House

We had a GREAT day today with Nike's Men's Athletic Training/Field Sports Product Creation Team visiting our equipment room and talking with many of our student-athletes, coaches and equipment staff.

Nike is about many things, but the one thing that they do not get enough credit for is spending a lot of time and money developing product with feedback directly from athletes and using their feedback to design the best equipment in the world. To me, this is the main reason they are number one in the world in their business.

This team is responsible for so much of Nike's success! We were honored to have them visit with us today. For years, we have worked closely with Nike to help them develop product. For years we have field tested so much gear for them. We field test cleats for them all the time.

Much credit also goes to our staff of great equipment managers such as Tim Pfennig and Benny Conger who deserve a lot of credit for their hard work all year long for their work with our student athletes and the Nike development team. These two guys put in a great deal of effort to make this partnership work.

We are very fortunate to have a partnership with Nike (the world's GREATEST product) and a great relationship with many of their very dedicated team members. It is easy to see why Nike is so successful when you are able to spend a day with this team like we were able to do today.

Below are some pictures of their work with some of our student-athletes, coaches and equipment staff.