EUGENE, Ore. - Down the dark hallways on the bottom floor of the Casanova Athletic Center, there is a side to University of Oregon athletics that Duck fans never see.
In this building next to Autzen Stadium sits a room filled with seemingly endless rows of sports equipment.
The two levels of the giant room are filled rows and rows of football jerseys, waiting-to-be-used football facemasks, pads and various pieces of baseball uniforms.
An opened box of Nike undershirts sits in the middle of the room waiting to be sorted -- by someone.
The University of Oregon Athletics department runs smoothly because of equipment managers and assistants. They are the men and women who make sure all of the equipment is maintained, cleaned and organized for the players. They make sure every detail related to UO sports is taken care of. From practices, to games, to national championship, they help prepare teams for a game. If an item is worn or used by an athlete, the equipment manager gave it to them. It’s a lot of hard work, with long hours.
“It’s a labor of love,” says Pat Conrad, the head of equipment management at the University. He has been working at Oregon since 1978. Now in his 32nd year as an equipment manager, he is about to transfer to the new Matthew Knight Arena. Conrad said once a person is an equipment manager, they are often there for life.
Sara Cochran works in a dungeon-like space in the bottom level of MacArthur Court. Down a bendy hall with the humming florescent lights is the softball equipment room, where she does most of her work. Cochran also works with golf and tennis athletes.
Cochran said she likes the work because she feels like she’s part of the team. She says the athletes she works with treat her with respect and appreciate the work she does.
So the next time you see a University of Oregon sports team with a complete uniform, free of grass stains and holes, remember is wasn’t by magic.