Student works the daily grind

Editor’s Note: This story is part two of an ongoing series that looks at unique jobs on campus.

Emma Carew

Four years after moving out of his parents’ house, sports studies senior Brett Yost considers the football equipment room in the Gibson-Nagurski building his home away from home.

Yost is the senior student manager for the football team and has worked in the athletic room since before he even enrolled at the University.

He and a team of 11 other student managers are responsible for every pad, every jersey and every shoe that makes it onto the football field.

Yost said he enjoys “being involved in an aspect of the game that a lot of people don’t really get to see.”

Three days a week, Yost shows up for practice a little before 4 p.m. and usually stays until 6:30 or so.

The equipment team gets the pads and equipment out on the field, and then runs drills with the players and coaching staff.

Yost works with the quarterbacks, tossing balls to the players for passing drills and exercises.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that the necessary stuff is in the right place,” he said. “If you’re not getting noticed, then you’re doing your job.”

On game days, Yost said he puts in 10 to 12 hours of work, showing up to the Metrodome to get the locker room assembled before the game, and staying two to three hours after to break down the equipment and get everything washed and ready for the next week.

Over the past three years, Yost has seen nearly everything on the job, so much so that he said little surprises him now.

At first, he said, he was surprised by the size of the off-field equipment operation.

Yost worked as an equipment manager for his high school football team in White Bear Lake, but said it was more of a one-man show.

The weirdest thing Yost has ever encountered on the job was when the student section at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa started chanting “Where’s Brett Yost at?” during a game his sophomore year.

As it turned out, his friends who went to Tulsa tried to find him on the sidelines and started yelling for him, and by the end of the first half, the rest of the students had joined in.

“When you sign up to be a manager, that’s the last thing you’d ever expect to happen,” Yost said, laughing.

Yost said, at the heart of his job is being able to adapt and “it really helps to love the game.”

After practice, Yost and his team break down the field, bringing in the practice equipment. A three-man team rotates on laundry duty, which Yost opts out of.

The student managers make sure the laundry gets back in the lockers for the next day’s practice, fill the fridge and take out the garbage.

There are days when the job isn’t quite as fun.

Less than desirable is the job of holding chains during offensive practice, Yost said.

And when it comes time to clean out the helmets, some of the ones worn by players with dreadlocks develop what Yost called “a coating of funk.”

One of Yost’s favorite aspects of the job is taking care of the game balls on game day, rubbing them down and checking the air pressure.

“My biggest simple pleasure,” he said, “is knowing that I’ve done everything I can do to make them the most necessary part of the game, as perfect as they can be.”

The student managers know how big a role they play on and off the field.

“There would be no football without the equipment,” Yost said, quoting a previous manager.

“We’re a pretty tight-knit group,” he said. “We can commiserate with each other when the hours get long; you’re in it together, and there’s a sense of loyalty and friendship there.”

Yost even started a Facebook group for the student managers, where they can post pictures and video clips where they’ve been caught on screen during games.

For Yost, being a student manager and working the equipment room spans way beyond fetching towels and doing laundry.

“It’s a big sport, millions of people love it,” Yost said. “To be a part of it, in a way that’s a little different, it’s something special.”