Every Saturday fans from all over the state of Louisiana travel to Death Valley to cheer on their Fighting Tigers.
One of the biggest highlights of LSU games is when Les Miles releases his team from the locker room onto the field. There is an instant wave of excitement flowing throughout Tiger Stadium as the Tigers run out in their purple and gold.
Every single time, their uniforms look as good as the first time they have ever been worn. The question is, how is it that after a hard game, like the one in Houston against Wisconsin, can these uniforms look amazing the next Saturday against Sam Houston State?
The athletes go to school, practice and play games, so there isn’t any possible way they would have time to fix up or clean a jersey or pants. There had to be someone behind them who makes sure that the team looks good every Saturday.
The team behind the football squad at LSU is known as the equipment management team.
Eric Cookmeyer is a student at LSU and a dedicated equipment manager for the LSU football team for nearly five seasons now.
He said a lot of work, time, and patience goes into being an equipment manager.
“We pretty much do any and everything that the team and coaches need us to do, from washing clothes to setting up the field for practice,” he said.
Cookmeyer said he works alongside 11 other equipment managers, each playing an important role as part of their group.
Cookmeyer has the huge responsibility of being what he termed the “inside guy.”
“I am in charge of our warehouse monitoring of what goes in and out, as well making sure our players have the correct equipment they need for games and practices,” he said.
Cookmeyer said the most intense part of his job is definitely game day, whether it’s home or away.
Those days, he said, are like a “marathon.”
Ever wonder how a player is able to return to a game after getting his jersey ripped or bled on? Well, Cookmeyer is the guy who gets their uniform wearable again.
“I have to scrub the blood out,” he said. “For rips I keep a needle and thread on hand, and I always keep backup jerseys for each player.”
Cookmeyer said he has to be just as instinctive as the players on the field; and be prepared for anything to occur.
His job is nonstop because he is directly in charge of all the uniforms. He has to make sure every pair of pants and every jersey is accounted for every week.
“I start at the beginning of each week working on uniforms, and I do this throughout the entire week,” he said.
While fans sleep in or are setting up to tailgate on game day, Cookmeyer is up at 7 a.m. preparing the locker room.
“I go through and make sure everything is in its place, including gloves and shoes, and that shoulder pads are hung up,” he said.
There’s pressure to take care of the equipment needs of close to 100 players, but Cookmeyer said he enjoys every moment.
“I love the excitement of game day,” he said, “getting to know the players, and the guys that I work with are like family. That makes it all worthwhile.”
Cookmeyer hopes to pursue a professional career as an equipment manager for either a college team or an NFL franchise.
One thing is certain: There would be no college or NFL teams to play games without the team of real MVPs working behind the scenes to get them ready.