Behind the scenes on Saturdays

Allison Williams, Student Writer

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2014 Greater Nanticoke Area graduate Jordan Williams took on the job of equipment manager for the Penn State football team. Being a PSU fan his entire life, this is a dream come true for him and his entire family. The GNA Insider spoke with Jordan about his experiences as a member of the Nittany Lions.

Q: How did you get involved with the program?

A lot of our guys who are managers are legacy guys, so their dad did it, or had a connection within the program in some form. I am almost the only one who didn’t and just went on a limb and emailed our head equipment manager one day. He told me to contact him in January (my sophomore year). I called in and interviewed, and the rest is history.


Q: How often are practices held?

We have a unique schedule where we practice the day after a game. Practices are held Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with games on Saturday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are tough, full-pad practices, while Sunday and Friday are more walk-through, correction type practices.

Q: What do you do at practice?

As an equipment manager, we have a wide range of duties at practice. Every position group (quarterbacks, tight ends, receivers, etc.) have a manager that is with them during practice and sets up and helps execute drills with them. We are responsible for everything that happens at practice, beside calling the plays. We set-up the field, operate clocks, chains, spotting balls, executing drills, basically anything that happens on the field. Beyond that, we are also responsible for the equipment worn by the players and coaches, such as cleats, helmets, shoulder pads, and team- issued clothing.


Q: Did you become friends with any of the staff/players?

Yes, you become very good friends with pretty much everyone inside the football building, from administration to the janitors. We spend about 30-40 hours at the Lasch Football Building per week on average, so you are essentially forced to become friends. Our equipment room is connected to the locker room, so we are with the players 24/7. The coaches and staff get to know you and develop a certain expectation that you need to maintain. I became good friends with a lot of players, mostly the tight ends (since I’m their manager), players from our area, and my position coach, Coach Rahne.

Q: Who works the hardest behind the scenes?

I know this seems like a generic answer because everyone knows his name, but I have never seen anyone with the work ethic that Saquon Barkley has. His competitive nature and amount of work that he outs in behind the scenes is incredible and directly translates to the field. A lot of the guys, especially as they get older and more experienced basically live at the football building and spend their day there. It is more than a full-time job to play, let alone go to class and study. The work that a lot of the veterans put in is unrivaled, and I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.


Q: What is a typical gameday like for you?

Gameday is our longest day of the week. We are at the stadium for about 12 hours, from about 6:30 am to 6:30 pm for a typical noon game. We start our day by eating at either the team hotel for away games, or our ‘Nittany Lion Training Table’ football dining area at Pollock Commons on campus. We’ll then grab the last of the things we need from the football building and head to the stadium. Most of the locker room is set up on Friday by half of our managers, so we finish the last few things and set up the sidelines. There’s a lot of different jobs on gameday, from running balls and throwing footballs into the game to use, to signaling different things, to helmet and equipment maintenance, so everyone is busy. At the end, we tear it all down, load up the truck if we are on the road, and head back to the football building.

Q: If you had the chance to switch lives with a player would you, and who would you choose?

I’m not sure if I would want to switch with anyone, unless it was a definite they would make it to the NFL. Every child dreams of making it to the NFL, so that would be cool. But my job is unique and I’m thankful for that, and football has opened up many doors for me if I wanted to look at different options down the road. Knowing people who coach and operate at the highest level in the country is a blessing.


Q: What is the locker room like after a win?

Chaos. That’s essentially the only way to describe it. Everyone is jumping around and dancing and hugging each other, it’s surreal. Especially after a big win, like the Big Ten Championship, Ohio State, and Minnesota last year. Then Coach Franklin comes in and talks, and the party continues until everyone changes and leaves.

Q: Are you involved with other activities outside of football?

I’m in a THON org that my roommate and fellow GNA grad, Patrick Duda is the president of. THON is Penn State’s 46 hour dance marathon to help fight pediatric cancer. It’s hard to make the meetings though, since they are at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and normally I am leaving the football building around 7:30-8 and heading to training table then.


Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that I’m proud and thankful to be a part of. There was no better feeling than winning the Big Ten Championship last year and celebrating with everyone. You become good friends with a lot of the players and get to know them pretty well. Our days at football and long and tiring, but it’s definitely worth it. Practice is super high-stressed and fast paced, and you need to know what is going on everywhere at any given moment. It’s a lot of fun though, and a lot of the players and coaches do have fun (Coach Rahne and Franklin are probably the two funniest in my opinion). I suggest it to anyone who is interested, especially if they’re at a place like Penn State. The chance to use the best facilities and be a part of one of the best teams in the country is unrivaled.