The Team Behind the Team
The Team Behind the TeamDecember 17, 2021
Running a Big Ten football program’s equipment department is an exercise in constant preparation and organization.
“We plan ahead to set the team up for success,” says Andrew Kolpacki, head football equipment manager.
Kolpacki, who started in the MSU equipment room as a student in 2011, leads an agile team of equipment experts who together manage every piece of football gear from top to turf. It takes planning, commitment and grit.
Sound familiar? Toward the end of the 2021-22 season, we went behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of what it takes to get MSU Football ready for the road.
EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
76 players travel to a typical away game. But at home, up to 105 players can be dressed on the sideline. Each player is custom fitted for helmets, cleats, gloves and pads.
BRINGING THE HEAT
Fall and winter in the Big Ten can be brutally cold. Kolpacki and his team pack and transport industrial heaters and heated benches (plus the propane to fuel them) to away games.
SPARTAN GAME BALLS
MSU brings about 18 game balls to every road matchup. Used on offensive possessions, they’re inspected by the refs prior to kickoff. The team also brings 50-60 additional balls to use in warmups.
From pads and uniforms, to chin straps and shoelaces, detailed checklists help the equipment team keep every piece of gear in order and ensure nothing is left behind.
This year’s uniforms included three different jerseys, four different pants, two helmets (one green, one white) and a host of various helmet decals. The team wore a different combination for every game of the 2021-22 season.
Ahead of gameday, headset technicians Adam Joyce and Mike Lark coordinate with TV networks, the opposing team, referees and even local cell towers to ensure there are no overlapping frequencies (or stolen gameplans).
Contributing Writer(s): Iain Bogle, Photographer