FAMU football gear team brings order to Game Day chaos

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Rattler football fans will see their home team enter the pitch on Saturday dressed in matching orange pants and jerseys, as they head to their return clash against the Grambling State University Tigers.

Their orange helmets will feature a green and white stripe down the middle, with a rattle on both sides. The jerseys will include a SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) patch, Nike logo and of course, a rattle.

By the time the team enters the pitch for the pre-match warm-ups, the work of the equipment staff – or the team behind the team – will have already logged six hours of preparation, a routine that is expected before each match.

Match day

FAMU equipment managers live by the motto “6 before the kick”. They are on the pitch and set up six hours before kick-off, whether the game is at home or away.

Coach Comm is the first operation that takes place, whether at home or away. Coach Comm is the standard in football training helmets, side communications and press boxes.

The team is led by Director of Equipment Operations Douglas Lipscomb, Assistant Director of Equipment Operations Donald Reed and Student Managers including: Kyndal Perry, Perriona Daniels, Amani Mincey, Brooke Thomas, Shakiria Hopkins, Xavier Gregory, Jessica Myers and Richard Dunbar.

Donald Reed, Assistant Director of Equipment Operations, pressure cleans the jerseys.

Perriona Daniels, a fourth year health sciences student, has been with the team since her first year.

“I always wanted to be involved in FAMU football,” Daniels said. “When I first came to FAMU I saw an ad that they were looking for management students, so I sent an email expressing my interest, this is how I am here now.

“For me the most rewarding aspect of being a student manager is getting experience, working with great people and of course traveling to see what other schools are like. Daniels said.

Early preparation and decal of helmets

For home matches, the dressing room is set up the day before, preparing 80 players to dress up for the match. The away games are a bit different. The locker room is set up the same day and only 70 players get dressed.

The technical room has around 300 pairs of crampons and around 250 helmets. Additional helmets are stored in case any of them break or a player needs a different size.

Each manager has 11 lockers which he is responsible for maintaining. Responsibility includes decaling helmets, replacing helmets, placing award stickers on helmets, placing jerseys on shoulder pads and packing bags for away matches.

The helmet decal requires patience.

The lines should be cut precisely and the rattle logos should be at the perfect angle on the sides. The Rattlers have two helmets, one white and one orange. The helmets are changed according to the color code of the week. Reward stickers are placed on the helmets according to the player’s performance in the game. To make it easier for the players, jerseys are placed upstream on the shoulder pads.

“I prefer to prepare for the home games,” said Daniels. “Everyone has a designated section in the locker rooms, which makes it easier to …”

In every team there are star players who like things in a certain way. The current team has a lot of them.

Wide receiver Xavier Smith is the reason long white socks and the three-compression green shirts, which fans will see in the pre-game, were ordered.

The security of the stars Markquese Bell is of the bracelet kind. On the day of the match, he must have his bracelets on.

Offensive lineman Keenan Forbes ordered Nike Land Sharks boots especially for him. He has worn the same crampons since his arrival at FAMU. They are wider for his feet.

Away games challenge

The Florida A&M University football team boards three buses to Tallahassee International Airport before a flight south to Miami Gardens for the Orange Blossom Classic at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday where they face Jackson State University on Thursday, September 2.  2021.

Saturday’s game marks the last home game of the season. From there, the team will travel to Louisiana to face Southern University (November 6), then the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (November 13) and on November 20 the Florida Blue Florida Classic in Orlando against their big rival. Bethune-Cookman University.

Away games are generally the most difficult for equipment managers.

“Adapting to the new locker rooms, having limited access to things you would normally have full access to at home and loading / unloading the 18 wheeler is the main difference between home and away games,” said the Assistant Director of Equipment Operations, Donald Reed.

Find out more about FAMU’s return to its roots:

A photo provided of the semi-trailer used to transport equipment for the FAMU Rattlers football team.

Derrick Jackson is the team’s truck driver. He usually arrives a day before the team leaves and helps the equipment staff load the trailer, which also contains all of the coaches and video team equipment.

Order is the most important when loading.

Items that are not used until the moment of play are placed at the back. Shirts, pants, helmets, belt loops for players, clothing for coaches, are all close to the front for easy access.

“Derrick Jackson is extremely valuable to our program and our success,” said Lipscomb. “He is the one who transports our equipment from point A to point B. May God never happen to him on the way. We would be in great difficulty. “

Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons smiles while coaching a game.  The Rattlers beat the South Carolina Bulldogs 30-7 at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Head coach Willie Simmons’ locker preparation on game day has become a routine, whether at home or away. He must have his match day polo shirt, his black polo shirt, his pens, his gum and his Red Hots, the cinnamon candy.

Simmons constantly lets equipment managers know how much he appreciates them.

“The best equipment staff in the country,” Simmons said in a letter to the equipment staff. “We couldn’t do this without all of you. You put the U in FAMULY.

The Florida A&M University football team boards three buses to Tallahassee International Airport before a flight south to Miami Gardens for the Orange Blossom Classic at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday where they face Jackson State University on Thursday, September 2.  2021.

Democratic writer Shakiria Hopkins is a member of the Equipment Team. Contact her at SMHopkins@gannett.com.


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