Tremendous look inside the football equipment operations at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Almost everyone knows it is a large and complex job, but articles like this really demonstrate the huge logisitical undertaking that is a college football road trip. And a special mention goes to UAB equipment manager, Ryne Nicholson.
By Evan Dudley
Ryne Nicholson doesn’t get much sleep on Saturday nights.
He arrives at the UAB football operations complex long before the twilight of Sunday morning and awaits the arrival of Kenny Taylor. Nicholson begins loading around 120 game jerseys and pants into massive industrial washing machines when he hears the warning beeps of the equipment truck backing up to the loading dock on the 11th Street side of the complex.
Taylor finishes parking the truck and meets Nicholson for a quick chat before leaving the latter to it. His assistants and interns will begin to file in once the sun creeps over the horizon so only a few hours separate the end from the beginning of his work week.
Nicholson, a Tennessee native and graduate of the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State, was named the Director of Football Equipment for the Blazers in May – after serving as the assistant manager to football and head manager of the women’s basketball and baseball programs – and has developed his own system in that short amount of time to ensure the program’s equipment needs are met on a daily basis while preparing logistics and strategies for upcoming road games and beyond.
“It’s pretty much just a continuation,” he said. “Sunday is the start and Thursday night after we pack the bags after practice, that’s our finish line. We have all week to do that on top of balancing a budget and every regular duty including coaches’ laundry, staff laundry and player’s workout laundry in the mornings or any helmet or cleat problems. That’s our race time.”
It’s a week-long endeavor that brings Nicholson and his staff to this point of their game week duties. They fly with the team to each away game and are prepared to setup for game day on Friday morning as soon as the equipment docks at that week’s destination.
“We have a pack list and we just check it off,” he said. “We make sure everything is done to where we have to restock expos, sharpies and pens to armbands, underwear and compression; you name it. I always tell them its better to over pack than to under pack because I’d rather bring back 10 t-shirts than be without. You got to pack backup cleats, backup helmets, backup shoulder pads, knee pads and thigh pads, coacher’s gear and backup to that, backup shoes, footballs and kicking net. I’m a guy who likes two of everything, I know that can’t be done everywhere, but you just never know.”
Read the entire article at AL.com.
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