Great Memories Reward For Equipment Man

Football equipment managers are jacks-of-all-trades. They must not only provide equipment to players, they must repair broken parts and sew tears in clothing. Whenever coaches or players need something, they turn to the equipment people. Illini equipment manager Trent Chesnut has fond memories of his work, which includes unusual situations and great opportunities.

Illinois Head Football Equipment Manager Trent Chesnut has enjoyed many fond memories of his work, both in Champaign and at the University of Nevada. Possibly the most unusual problem he encountered occurred early in his career.

"When I was back at the University of Nevada we played New Mexico State. We didn't have rain gear. We have Gortex Nike rain gear here, but we didn't have anything.

"It was forecast for rain, so I go and buy all these clear rain suits, ponchos with pants to go with it. I bought them for all the assistant coaches and the head coach. That stuff was so cheap, it just started ripping.

"They put them on over their slacks. Once they got them on and made a couple moves, the crotches were ripping out. I decided I had to get some type of rain gear, so that next year I got some from a company out West."

Chesnut is so well prepared that few things throw him for a loop. But when problems occur, he must provide an answer. Quickly.

"No, nothing too out of the ordinary. Occasionally a shoestring breaks. Most of the stuff that happens is gonna be helmets, it's gonna be hardware. Chin straps breaking, shoulder pad buckles, stuff like that.

"We have a backup jersey for everybody that travels. On the road, we're always wearing white. At home, we don't take them out on the field. Not everybody has a backup pair of pants. For every size, we take three extra pairs, from size 28 up to size 48 or 50.

"We have a full trunk that's just backup, extra game pants. And that's the same with everything we take. We take extra helmets, shoulder pads, every style of shoe we can think of, a size or two of each pair. Just in case.

"I think a few years ago, we had a kid that did not pack his helmet. We actually had one just like he wears, so no one even knew. That really doesn't happen too often."

Chesnut toils in obscurity. Fortunately, he has no need for personal glory or attention. Just being part of something special gives him plenty of satisfaction.

"The biggest thing I get a kick out of is going to the games. I grew up around here. Having a chance to go to all the different stadiums is kind of cool for me. Obviously, going to the Rose Bowl was special.

"Just going to the Big House for once, seeing what a disappointment it actually was. They're doing some things now that will be neat. Wisconsin, going to Penn State, and our place.

"I remember the Penn State game two years ago. It was a Saturday night game on ABC. It was the White Out game. It was drizzling. They were playing the CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) song 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain.' It's a rule they have to shut the song off during plays, but the crowd knew the whole song and kept singing anyway.

"Our place is as good as any when we're playing well and the crowd gets into it. You get chills."

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