SPORTS_Helmets_MariahWilson-2290-02
Photos by Mariah Wilson

Dinos football equipment manager plays large role in team’s culture

By David Song, April 30 2018 — 

In the realm of sports, the equipment manager is one of the less heralded individuals on a team. While star athletes and head coaches are always in the spotlight, the equipment manager mostly works behind the scenes but is vital to the team’s daily operation. It’s a role and responsibility that veteran Dinos football equipment manager John Carr lives and breathes.

Now heading into his 10th year with the Dinos, Carr started out volunteering at games and events for his two young son’s sports teams. Despite his love of the game, Carr never played football and admits he didn’t know how to coach when he began volunteering. However, his initiative and handyman skills brought him into regular contact with sports equipment. With time and valuable experience under his belt, he joined the Dinos football team as the equipment manager.

SPORTS_Kickoff2017_MariahWilson-2153“You’ve got to be a people person. With young student athletes, you’re dealing with so many different mentalities and temperaments. Being able to talk and relate to them is first,” he said.“I don’t look at it as a job. For my first two years [with the Dinos], I didn’t receive monetary compensation. I get an honorarium now, but to be a good equipment manager, you need to have passion for the game.”

Carr also stressed the importance of problem-solving skills in his line of work.

Outside of football season, Carr still remains busy.

“Even though my contract starts Aug. 1 and ends Nov. 31, there’s no real offseason for me. A true equipment guy can’t just say, ‘That’s the time I start and will finish,’ ” he said. “There’s so much other preparation. All our helmets need reconditioning and fresh paint this year. I take maybe a month off in December then it’s full go again.”

Carr makes a great effort to prepare the team for the regular season. He recently shipped the team’s helmets off for recertification to ensure they’re safe for game-time use.

You have to make sure the student athletes have the  best equipment that you can afford and that they’re maintained properly,” Carr said. “If they’re not maintained, you’re running the risk of them getting hurt. That’s the last thing we want. I invest a lot of time and energy into researching the best equipment and providing it for our athletes.”

Carr’s investment goes beyond simply outfitting players with equipment. He meets with every incoming Dino and their family, giving facility tours and assuring the athletes will be well cared for. For instance, each Dinos offensive lineman is given a pair of knee braces that generally cost $3,000 to help withstand the rigours of their position.

Incoming Dinos offensive lineman Carter Johnson attests to Carr’s mentorship. Their relationship dates back 10 years and Johnson says that Carr offered him caring and pragmatic advice during the university recruitment process.

“[Carr told me], ‘I’d love for you to come, but you need to do what’s right for you,’ ” Johnson said. “And [joining the Dinos was]. All the coaches and everyone else were very classy during the recruiting process.”

“I love our guys and I talk to them the exact same way I talk to my sons,” Carr added. “If we’re on the field and [the players] are messing around and they shouldn’t be, they’re going to hear it. I want them to succeed so bad. Sometimes, my emotions get the best of me, but it’s not a personal thing. I might belittle the play, or the situation, but never my guys.”

Ultimately, Carr’s passion makes him an invaluable member of the Dinos athletics department. Equal parts equipment manager and father figure, he ensures the team is prepared to succeed both on and off the field. With spring camp in full swing, Carr remains hard at work to welcome the next generation of Dinos.

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