Personal Touch

Dave Delegal, who begins his third year as the Seminoles' head equipment manager and his sixth consecutive after returning to FSU following a two-year stint with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, is a busy man these days. In addition to preparing uniforms and equipment for Saturday's opener against Iowa State in Kansas City -- FSU is dressing out 95 players -- it's also Delegal's job to make sure he packs coach Bobby Bowden's lucky belt that he wears on game day.

Dave Delegal begins his third year as the Seminoles' head equipment manager and his sixth consecutive after returning to FSU following a two-year stint with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Delegal's duties include the supervision of the student managers and practice facilities as well as fitting and repairing protective equipment for the FSU football team. The 36-year-old Delegal is a 1993 graduate of FSU. He also was a member of the 1997 AFC Pro Bowl Staff.

What's on your agenda today?

"We got the dress list this morning, which is early for us because we usually don't get it until about 48 hours before we travel. As soon as we got that, we started doing some final packing. We've worked the last two weeks getting a lot of stuff made up but now we are actually packing it for each individual player. We are bringing about 8,000 pounds. Today we packed their workout gear for Friday. They have mesh bags for game day - we are doing the game pants right now. The seamstress comes (Tuesday), so we will make final alterations on the game jerseys. Most of our sideline trunks and our backup equipment stays the same the entire season. Week to week, we pack for specific players. We are taking 95 players. During the season we usually take around 74-76. These preseason games, we usually take all the scholarship guys and a few walkons."

How is your equipment transported to games?

"The equipment for this game, Louisville and Maryland, we will fly the equipment with the team. (The equipment is driven by FSU staff to remaining games by truck). We will take the truck out to the airport on Thursday, and it will be loaded on the 767. Then we have a trucking company meeting us in Kansas City, which will transport the equipment to the stadium. When we get back on Sunday, we will unload at the airport, bring everything back here and start breaking it down. We unpack everything when we get back, all the player bags, the used equipment, anything that has to be laundered. Separate it all out. We will wash the game uniforms as soon as we get back. Everything that needs to be dry or is damp, or anything that needs to be aired out, we get it out as soon as we get back."

Your staff also doubles as the laundry service. How does that work?

"We have four washers and four dryers. We air dry the game jerseys and pants, so usually about 90 minutes after a game we are done. It's all injection chemicals, liquid soaps. There's a computer so you can adjust how much of each chemical goes in per cycle. The water is 155 degrees. The soap originated in the hospital care industry, hotel industry, as far as you had to use something that was PH balanced that people could use and it wouldn't affect their skin. It ended up transferring to athletics."

Talk about the maintenance of your helmets.

"We have two helmets - game and practice. They are painted off-sight at Pro Line in Birmingham, Ala.. It's a two-part automotive paint basically. They put a primer down above the plastic shell and then put a metallic gold paint over the top. It's pretty durable. If a metal snap or something hits it, it's going to gouge. We keep the game helmets in the equipment room during the week, so we can work on them. And then the practice helmets are used - it just keeps the hardware cleaner and more up to date in terms of repairs or preventive maintenance. Each student (assistant) is assigned a group of players' helmets to work on and Keith Graham (assistant equipment manager) has a check system. He makes sure everything is checked off and has been changed. A lot of linemen, the hardware needs to be changed about every other week. It doesn't take long for the hardware to corrode because of the humidity. We get the (tomahawk) list on Monday, once the coaches have graded the film and have their tomahawk award list. We keep those updated."

What's the secret to this job?

"We try to stay a step ahead. The more we can do preventive maintenance wise, whether it be the helmet or double-checking to make sure this guy has this in his mesh bag. We don't want to mess with it when we get off site, or we don't want to mess with it on game day. We don't want to be a distraction. The more we can do during the week, it's a lot smoother on game day. Bowl week is not too bad. Two-a-days are busy. Just the weather, the climate. If we get rain, it throws everyone off. If we get wet weather, we are in for a long day. We try to travel as light as possible. It's tough trying to get some of these trunks underneath those planes. The least amount of equipment we can take, we do. Obviously, later in the year when you have cold weather, we pretty much have to take cold gear, thermals, winter gloves. The loads really pick up. It's natural grass (Arrowhead Stadium), so we don't have to get the turf shoes out. We broke in the game shoes during one of the kicking scrimmages, the helmets have been broken in. Everything has been sized. We are ready to roll."

How long is your day?

"Now that we are in one-a-days, it's about 12 hours. It's not too bad. During two-a-days, we were in at 5 a.m. and got home around 10:15 p.m or so."

Editor's Note: For years now, coach Bowden has worn the same belt on game day. It's Delegal's job to make sure he packs Bowden's belt, which is locked away in the team's storeroom. Due a mixup, Delegal admits he forgot to pack the belt for a road trip to Virginia a few years back (no, it wasn't the 1995 game, when FSU suffered it's first ACC defeat). Delegal said coach was neither mad nor upset. He simply adjusted by pulling his jacket down over his belt-less britches. The belt, which is garnet and gold and has Bowden's RCB initials on it, was made specifically for coach as a gift.


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