Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wildcats Handle Rockets

I have to admit, when Erick Harper told me about the 2 for 1 contract with Toledo, not long after they arrived in Tucson, I have NOT been looking forward to this trip. First of all, I knew just how well the Rockets played BCS schools at their home stadium, the Glass Bowl. It didn't help much either after I visited with my good friend and former co-worker, JT Galloway of Colorado.

I knew heading into this trip that conditions were not ideal, and that we were playing a very good team. One thing though came true once again, good things happen when you work hard. Our equipment staff worked extremely hard dealing with all the obstacles in front of us, and our coaches and players worked very hard this training camp and they too were VERY well prepared to handle what ever the Rockets threw at them.

It was a nice bus ride back to the airport after the game, as I sat in my seat and realized that it ended up being a GREAT trip, one that I was very glad that it happened. First and foremost, I was able to realize just how blessed and fortunate I am in this business to work at a GREAT university, work with a GREAT head coach and coaching staff, very appreciative and GREAT young men as players, but most importantly, able to work with the BEST equipment staff in the country! Tim Pfennig and Benny Conger do an OUTSTANDING job, as do the student managers we have. I can't imagine how this trip would have gone without them!!!!!

We do a lot of talking with one another in the hours leading up to the team arriving as we set up the locker room. Actually, it is one of the really neat things about this job in my opinion. All 8 of us were so excited about watching our players play the game that night. Even though none of us wanted to "jinx" the moment, hind sight tells me we all knew that it was going to be a successful outcome. The coaches and players had worked too hard and focused so much in preparation. The players practice hard, and the coaches coached hard all training camp.

I read a bunch of emails and texts from so many people on that fun bus ride back to the airport, but the one that really made me smile was the message I got from Colonel Faulkner at Fort Huachuca. He said that it looked like Nic Grigsby was running from the dogs at Fort Huachuca on that TD run. I told Nic about it as I got on the plane and he, and those sitting around him, got a big laugh out of it. I also got a lot of notes from people saying how much they like the new uniforms. I too thought the team looked really nice. Nice job by Coach Stoops and Nike on coming up with the look!

As I type this, I can not wait to start getting ready for The Citadel! I took a lot of time off yesterday and just enjoyed watching College Football. Again, it makes me realize just how blessed and fortunate I am to be in this business.

Enjoy some pictures below of our set up for the game.

This is how the locker room looked when arrived for work on Friday morning. With all the trunks we bring, it made it very difficult to move around for the first few hours of work.

Even though conditions were tight, hot and not the best, Tim, Benny and the managers did a tremendous job of getting our team prepared for a good game against Toledo. Although we really enjoy locker rooms like the one at the Rose Bowl, this situation last Friday makes us realize just how fortunate we really are!

Team buses arrive for the morning walk through:

Coach Stoops, and his daughter Payton, arrive for a 11:30am walk through on Friday morning:

Robert Lloyd working hard to get players lockers set up:

Benny coordinated the installation of portable fans we brought to help with an over heated locker room. One of the things we do before EVERY road game, is we call teams equipment managers to find out what we can expect, especially to places we have never been.

Mike Baranowski and Benny working hard on Friday before the game:

Mike Reed and Tim Pfennig work to get jerseys put on taped shoulder pads:

Everyone worked extremely hard before the game to make sure our players had a smooth time getting prepared to play the game against the Rockets:

Benny and Robert Lloyd worked extremely hard to "install" fans in the small, hot and humid, locker room that we brought from our equipment room. They really seemed to help move some air around in the locker room before the game and at halftime:

Mike Baranowski works to put a jersey on a pair of taped shoulder pads:

Toledo's cannon did not get a lot of use this past Friday night......thanks to our defense!

A group of dedicated Toledo students have to get their cannon up top of this little tower because last year a player ran into the cannon when they had it in the endzone. Now they have to get it up top. They were telling me that they usually have to use a ladder and rope, but this game they had a lift, I think because of the TV game:

This is where they took their cannon to shoot off during the game, which only happened twice. Like us sometimes, a lot of work and some times things just don't workout:

Robert Lloyd is walking the field talking to Ryan Ewalt who is up in the coaches pressbox setting up those coaches that work from upstairs. Benny and some of the managers are experts working with this system. Many schools bring their own phone people to do this work, but our equipment staff handles this responsibility at UofA:

We begin setting up our Coach Comm sideline communication system at least 6 hours prior to kickoff. We have very few problems because Coach Comm does such an incredible job of working with us prior to leaving for a stadium. They make sure we have the best frequencies possible in that area.

Benny is walking the field to make sure each headset has good reception throughout the entire sideline. Some stadiums have dead spots and this has to be dealt with hours before kickoff:

Mike Reed is putting a game jersey on a pair of shoulder pads for a player:

Here Jordan is setting up a players locker and making sure everything is set for that player so all he has to do is get dressed and go play the game:

The managers did an outstanding job of making the locker room as comfortable as possible, even though the room was so small:

We started rolling some hot dogs about an hour before the team arrived. With no real time to get something to eat, we have hot dogs and chips in the locker room which holds us over until we can eat after the game:

From left to right: Mike Reed, Jordan Goebel, Robert Lloyd, Ryan Ewalt and Mike Baranowski. These managers did an OUTSTANDING job for the team this past weekend in Toledo.

Once again, our locker room situation was horrible at best! Our coaches had six lockers in a room that was about the size of a large walk in closet. Many of our coaches picked up their game clothes from us at the morning walk through and they changed at the hotel and came dressed for the game:

Our travel notebook has all kinds of checklist so we do not forget any small detail that is needed. Here, Tim goes over some last minute details with Mike Reed:

This is a look at our locker room right before the team arrived. Note two of the fans we "installed" to help with some air flow in the locker room which was small, hot, crowded and sticky:

Toledo's mascot, Rocky, was hanging out by our locker room as we were waiting on the team to arrive:

As you can see, the locker room was hard to get around in with all the players. You can see Benny in the background tightening shoulder pad straps and helping players with their jerseys and shoulder pads. Because our jerseys fit so tight, they are very hard to get on and off.

Benny out checking with the players during stretch to see if they need any last minute adjustments, including air in their helmets, or straps on their shoulder pads tightened:

Our travel checklist consist of all kinds of things, because you never know when you need something. It is better to have it with you than back in Tucson, including a sewing machine:

This was our make shift equipment room, which was right outside of the locker room, where at least there was a decent breeze:

Everyone from the managers, strength staff, trainers, video staff, coaches and players worked extremely hard all training camp, and it was nice to see the hardwork pay off!

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