Manager Blog - Picking of the Peaches

Student Manager Matthew Burkhard offers SCPlayBook readers a unique perspective into USC pre-game rituals, including "The Picking of the Peaches."

This week was the first normal week of the season for us, and so far we have stuck to the usual schedules for each day of the week. We made it to Thursday, and it was once again time for two important rituals: the cleaning of the helmets, and the "picking of the peaches".

Every week, managers are responsible for breaking out (and breaking in) brand new footballs for practice - and you wouldn't know it, but a lot of work goes into those "rocks" from the time they are taken from their boxes to the time they hit the field, and even more work to get them into the game.

When a ball is brand new, it still has residual wax and dyes from its production - things that make the ball slippery and hard. The first step for us is to brush the balls with brushes that have hard bristles to warm up the ball and rub the wax off. This turns the ball from a bright red to a darker color. After the initial brushing, managers also scrub out all 24 of the balls that quarterbacks and wide receivers use in practice to break them in further.

We have learned, however, that the best way to break a ball in is to get it some reps in practice. Sweat and dirt along with a little elbow grease is what really makes a good football.

We usually have a good batch of balls once Thursday rolls around, and then we go through the "picking of the peaches". The balls are brushed during practice and all gathered up by the end, when we call John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Will Collins, and Greg Woidneck over to hand pick the best balls for the following game - the peaches.

We have two quarterbacks to pick the best feeling balls, and out of those, our long snapper and punter pick one or two balls that feel the best for kicking. Six peaches are systematically chosen, and those are the ones to be used in the game. In my opinion, the picking of the peaches is one of the most sacred practices in our program.

Tonight we also shined up all of the helmets for their appearance on TV against Washington State. Keep your eyes peeled for the handiwork of our managers - they put a quite a bit of effort into what they do.

We're all back at the Coliseum again on Saturday, and all pretty excited to have another competition on our home turf. See you all there.


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