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Unsung heroes: Football equipment room keeps Rams shipshape

Shannon+OHair+mends+the+CSU+football+teams+jerseys+from+last+weekends+game+Nov.+6.
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Shannon O’Hair mends the CSU football team’s jerseys from last weekend’s game Nov. 6.

Everyone loves seeing a hard-hit tackle or a game-winning touchdown pass, but what people don’t see is the warriors of the equipment team who meet all the needs of every player and coach.

At Colorado State, the equipment team is led by Head Football Equipment Manager Shannon O’Hair, who is one of four women head equipment managers in all of Division I football. 

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Her previous experience working in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers has boosted her expertise with the Rams, providing insight into new strategies for the team.

“I’m in charge of everything in the equipment room, whether that’s player safety, the students, doing laundry — pretty much all the behind-the-scene operations for the coaches to coach and the players to play on the field,” O’Hair said. “Pretty much, we fit everybody for a helmet and shoulder pads, take care of sizing them for their jersey and give them their workout gear to work out in.”

Committed to excellence, the equipment team takes on a multitude of tasks daily, whether that’s during practice or for a game. This squad is dedicated to greatness, giving the Rams an advantage on the field.

“(We) get here early in the morning, get everything loaded up on a gator, bring it out there and drop it off at certain parts of the field every day,” graduate equipment manager intern Brendan Bolan said. “During practice, we’re just helping run drills, shagging balls, setting stuff up — whatever the coaches really need — and it’s honestly the most hands-on job you’ll ever see.”

The silent partners handle the dirty work behind the scenes, allowing players and coaches to focus on football, relieving them of the stress about extra gear or fixing broken equipment. 

The equipment team makes sure broken gear is mended because it can lead to serious injuries if left unfixed. Everything must be in mint condition before running onto the field to ensure player safety and equip the team with a competitive edge over their opponent. 

“The NCAA requires everything to be (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) certified,” Associate Head Football Equipment Manager Nick Bergstrom said. “They go through tests. They test helmets and shoulder pads through this independent third party. The NFL does it as well; they go through this testing facility. Every helmet at the end of every season has to be sent out and reconditioned for next season.”

Following safety protocols maintains the longevity of the sport, and this is manifested by these heroes off the field who ensure equipment measures have been met.

With only three games remaining on the Rams’ schedule — two of which are home games — the equipment team is ready to finish out the year on a high note. 

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“Our job is best when no one notices what we’re doing; that means we’re doing a good job,” Bergstrom said. “If you’re watching a game on TV, just know that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than you’re probably thinking about, so that’s kind of how we like it. We don’t want everyone to know what we’re doing because that means we are doing a good job.”

Reach Luke Hojnowski at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukehojo.

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