Posts tagged ‘Nike’

Behind the Scenes at Beaver Stadium

Everyone at the Alumni Association pitches in during Traditional Reunion Weekend, and Thursday afternoon I helped guide the classes of 1959 and 1964 on a tour of Beaver Stadium. I’ve covered or attended a lot of games there over the years, but this provided a different perspective.

Alums got a chance to walk out on the field, too. Many had their pictures taken under the goalpost with a Standup Joepa.

Alums got a chance to walk out on the field, too. Many had their pictures taken under the goalpost with a Standup Joepa.

My group’s first stop was the locker room—usually forbidden territory for reporters—where long-time equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell and coordinator of practice facilities Kirk Diehl gave us a feel for life behind the scenes.

The team stays at Toftrees resort on Friday night, but doesn’t go straight to the stadium on Saturday. Instead, buses go right past the stadium en route to Lasch Building, where the players get 30 minutes to change into their uniforms. Then they re-board the buses for the traditional drive to Beaver Stadium.

That means Spider, Kirk, and the student managers, having already prepped the Beaver Stadium locker room, have to haul the players’ garment bags of street clothes to the stadium.

“You may ask yourself, ‘Why do they do that? That sounds crazy,’” Kirk said. He paused, then delivered the punch line. “It’s Coach Paterno.”

Added Spider, “He likes tradition.”

This, of course, surprised no one. Several people wondered whether Spider and Kirk had explained how the process could be streamlined by going directly to the stadium. One gentleman asked, “You’ve voiced your opinion?”

Spider grinned. “Our opinion has no merit.”

Other fun facts from the locker room:

—A player running out of the tunnel is wearing between 18 and 22 pounds of equipment, which costs about $1,000.

—The busiest day of the week for the managers is Thursday. That’s helmet day. They clean off the “graffiti” left by other helmets (specifically, by the facemasks), clean the facemasks with steel wool and make sure no metal is showing, and change the stripes (they’re stickers) as needed.

Alums got up close and personal with the equipment in the Penn State locker room. Some of the shoes are gigantic.

Alums got up close and personal with the equipment in the Penn State locker room. Some of the shoes are gigantic.

—Shoes are also time-consuming. “It’s a Penn State tradition to paint them black,” Spider noted, adding that a “big, black Sharpie” is the best tool to do so. In the past, the shoes have had white accent markings that needed to be covered. “The white’s unacceptable to Coach Paterno,” he said. Kirk chimed in: “You guys see a pattern here?”

But this time, the managers prevailed. Kirk, who is also the athletic department’s liaison to Nike, explained the situation to the company. The new shoe model has gray markings. Paterno is cool with that.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm 1 comment

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