When I met Dale Holste, certified athletic equipment manager for Boise State, to learn about football “costumes and props,” he chuckled. His sister works in theater.
Holtste, at Boise State since 1996, oversees uniforms and equipment for 110 players and 25 coaches. Sliding storage cabinets — 12 feet tall, 4 feet deep — hold over 600 sets of uniforms, 500 helmets, 2,000 gloves and more.
Each player has five helmets, one for practice and four for games — blue, black, orange, white. They are fitted to a player’s head by pumping air into three sets of air pads at the back, top and jaw. When the team plays in higher or lower altitudes, the air sacs are filled or emptied accordingly. Face masks are titanium or lightweight steel. Players have five game-day jerseys and pants (grey, white, blue, black and orange). You need to do the math to figure out many variations they have.
Front-line players who shove and take hard hits wear gloves like Wolverine hands without the long knives: hard plastic padding on the knuckles and long finger bones, and strips down the backhand. Game shoes (four sets per person — orange and white or blue and black, for grass or turf) get their own room: 250 pairs, stacked 12 feet high.
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A helmet and uniform can weigh up to 9 pounds.
Holste also stores the 10 Boise footballs used each week, with officials’ marks that they are approved.
This is the part we see. Then there’s the prep and clean up.
If you’ve ever complained about laundry, don’t in front of Holste. Weight-room workout clothes, practice uniforms and two towels per player are all sorted, washed and rebundled daily for 135 people. His staff runs 14 loads of laundry — 60 pounds each — nearly every day, and more on game day. At two hours per load, the laundry keeps the five washers and 10 dryers busy for hours. And just like the rest of us, he worries about grass stains, blood, and making his players and coaches look good.
So next game, take a moment to marvel at another behind-the-scenes element that makes football theater such a kick.