Donning sweatpants and crimson pullovers, a 13 man team hits Rogers Field for another day of practice leading into a crucial Dad’s Weekend clash against the California Golden Bears. And while you’ll find them on the sideline come gameday, they’ll never turn up in a stat book.
“I love it and wouldn’t trade it,” third-year equipment manager Carter Dahmen said. “I was a big Coug fan growing up, so knowing that I’m kind of a part of the team and get to be there most games on the sideline is just something special.”
A sold-out Martin Stadium doesn’t roar for packing trunks, prepping helmets, shagging footballs, and sewing jerseys, but what goes on behind the scenes is equally important. Likewise, it’s no small task for a baker’s dozen of full-time undergraduate students.
The time commitment alone can over shadow that of their studies. Working 30 hours a week amid the season – closer to 40 during Fall Camp – equipment managers have gone numb to completing school work last minute.
“You get home at 6:30 or 7 every day,” Dahmen said. “You gotta sacrifice some of the college life for it.”
The junior history major says he hasn’t had much of an issue keeping up with school work but could definitely see how the position might be a hinderance.
Aside from the perks and benefits, Dahmen says simply being involved tops the list. And though quick to praise standout quarterback Gardner Minshew II for his performance thus far, the Colton native cited redshirt freshman John Bledsoe as his favorite player on the team.
“John is one of the nicest guys. You would think him coming in here – Drew Bledsoe’s son – he could probably act like he runs the school,” Dahmen said. “But this guy will ask how your day’s going, and anything you want to talk to him about, you can to talk him.”
Through Thursday night quarterback competitions with coach Drew Hollingshead, the two have formed quite the bond. Dahmen – always betting on Bledsoe to win – says by his unofficial record, the underdog signal caller has won four times.
“It’s always me in his corner, and he’s always like ‘I know I’m winning cause you got my back,'” Dahmen said. “We’re not even that close, he’s just that type of a person.”
Keeping a professional relationship with the players, Dahmen says the whole program from top to bottom has mutual respect. By his estimation, most people don’t understand how tight knit of a community Cougar football is on the inside. Players, coaches, trainers, video staff and equipment managers all know each other by name.
“Bias opinion, it’s a big family,” Dahmen said.
Perhaps no subset is closer than the 13 equipment managers. Beginning in late July, the gang spends more time together than apart as they annually assimilate like a band of fraternity brothers weeks before the Fall semester.
“It’s not a promoted job,” Dahmen said. “It’s all about who ya know.”
And their friendship doesn’t stop at the doors of the Cougar Football Complex building. The equipment managers have an intermural flag football team together and hangout periodically before and after games home or on the road.
“I definitely consider them my best friends,” Dahmen said.