the Gauntlet

Equipped to win

Part two: game on

Publication YearIssue Date 

University of Calgary Dinos football team manager Allan Naylor has seen his share of championship titles. Last Saturday's Hardy Cup win was one of many victories he has enjoyed. In the second part of the Gauntlet's two-part series, we catch up with Naylor at the beginning of a game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds earlier this year. It is 1 p.m. and with a resounding cry from the crowd the ball is kicked into the air and the game has begun. Allan Naylor tucks a towel into his belt and puts his equipment pack on while his assistant John Carr grabs the water bottles-- both men are ready to go into action if a mishap occurs.

They work hard to keep the Dinos equipment in excellent condition, but find time to have fun as well.

They have a little competition during the regular season. Whoever carries the most water to players on the field wins. Currently, Carr is winning, but it is a close race.

Naylor counts all the carries from the away games and because Carr does not travel with the team often, he counts the carries from the home games.

During the first timeout of the game Naylor grabs the water bottles that Carr has put down and rushes onto the field to give the players water. He has snatched a carry from Carr and adds another tally to their little competition. Both trainers appear to love being on the sidelines, as they are constantly smiling and joking with the medical trainers and the rest of the bench.

Suddenly a tremendous cheer resonates from the crowd as the Dinos score a touchdown. Naylor high fives people and pumps his fist in celebration.

He is happy when his team is winning. When his team is losing, on the other hand, Naylor gets nervous and eats suckers, a habit he has developed over the years. It is his way to calm his nerves during a game. Throughout the day he is only seen eating one sucker. The Dinos must be winning.

Half time arrives and Naylor goes back under the McMahon Stadium seats to the locker rooms to fix broken equipment and prepare for the second half.

The medical trainers have nothing but high praise for Naylor as they explain that he does a tremendous amount of work for the team.

The second half of the game is a whirlwind as Naylor starts rushing into a defensive meeting on the sidelines to fix a broken strap on some shoulder pads, skirting the frantic coaches who are screaming at the defence.

Calgary scores more touchdowns and Naylor and Carr high five each time they happen. It's not all fun and games though.

The sidelines can be a dangerous place. A scary play ended with Naylor and Carr jumping out of the way of an incoming UBC player crashing into the sideline area. With the adrenaline high and bodies flying around, the sidelines are a thrilling place to be.

Sometimes the action carries over off the field as well, Naylor recounts a run-in with an angry UBC coach in his early years.

"My first year we were playing UBC and at the end of the game I left the field with about 30 seconds left to open up the locker room," says Naylor. "I finished in there and headed back down to the field and I saw one of our players coming up the tunnel. He was followed by a couple UBC players and when I got down to the bottom of the tunnel one of the UBC coaches shouldered me into the chain link fence down there. He then came upstairs and met up with Maxine the security guard and shoved her. That was after their players had jumped our player upstairs [in the locker room]."

It's not just the players who can get physical at a football game, at certain times everyone is associated with a little danger and rough housing.

While skirting around angry coaches, Naylor does more than fix equipment and run water to players. Sometime he has to instill order on the bench and keep the players from getting too rowdy and careless.

"Stay on the bench, stay on the bench, you guys have to stay near the bench," he yells late in the fourth quarter. "You guys have to stay by the bench."

When the final whistle goes and the battles on the field stop, Naylor and Carr carry on with their work.

They put away all the equipment on the field then go in to the locker rooms and take care of the player's clothing.

They collect all the jerseys, socks, and pants and line them up in the hallway to be cleaned. Carr goes through two bottles of terrible smelling Shout.

Then they take care of laundry right after the 24-11 Calgary win, long after the players, coaches, journalists, referees and fans have left to celebrate.

"It takes a couple hours to do laundry after a game," says Naylor. "You got the socks, pants, jerseys, towels all done separately. The not fun part is doing the laundry from muddy games like last weekend."

Despite the smelly laundry and long hours, Naylor's passion for his job comes through in the praise he receives from the players.

Perhaps what keeps him coming back is the chance to meet new players every year and develop special bonds with all of them.

"Being around the players and getting to know them is the best part."