We had the pleasure to interview Dartmouth College Hockey Equipment Manager Iggy Tarajos. He had some great insights as to what it's like being an equipment manager at college hockey's highest level.
1. What's your background as a player and equipment manager? What made you decide to be an equipment manager?
Well, to start, I played organized hockey for 18 years of my life and I feel hockey is the biggest commitment I've ever had. I played organized youth hockey in Biddeford, Maine, where I call home. I played three seasons at my respective High School in Kennebunk, ME and after high school I chose to give my talents a better shot at playing hockey at the college level, so I left my senior year to play for the Junior Pirates junior organization in Saco, ME. After four seasons on various Pirates' clubs, I was recruited to Plymouth State University, where I played one season. After the second season, I came to the realization that my playing career was over when I was not asked back due to ability! Be that as it may, I took an opportunity to start my career as an Equipment Manager. As a child I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time as a stick boy at AHL level working under Brock Myles, who is now the Head Equipment Manager for the Washington Capitals. So I had some background in the industry and I knew I wanted to stay in the sport anyway I could. The next three seasons at Plymouth while completing my sports Management Major, I built my own office and started pouring equipment manager ideas out; things like building a sufficient, fully functional equipment room and other stuff. As you know, hockey is an intricate sport with many variables and components to each player. The armor of a hockey player is the basis of the sport and each player is a puzzle of their own. Whether you're a speed guy, a playmaker or a checker, the gear you choose defines you as a player and without it you can be lost. This is the way I look at my job - keeping the players comfortable as well as safe is most crucial to the success of the team. Now I'm finishing up my first season working with Dartmouth Men's Hockey and I'm very grateful for getting a job right out of school and moving up towards my ultimate goal of becoming a Professional Hockey Equipment Manager. I decided I wanted to make a career of Equipment Managing when I realized how important the position was to a team. As an ex-player I feel I know what the players are going through, so who better to be there for them then me?!
2. What's your favorite part of the job?
Well I think that ultimately like any competitor, the best part of the job is winning. There is nothing like the feeling after a win with a group of guys knowing that everyone chipped in to do their part in getting the win for the team. From the athletic trainers to the coaching staff to the media guys, operations staff and players - everyone has a job to do. When everything goes smooth and we get the win, there's nothing more fun.
3. What do you consider the most challenging part of the job?
I'd have to say that the most challenging part of the job is staying consistent night in and night out. Players are big on preparation routines and when something is out of place, challenges arise. It's a long season, so staying consistent to the needs of the players from sharpening to stick cuts is important to how the player performs on the ice throughout the season.
4. What is the oddest or most ridiculous player request or player gear habit you've had?
When I was at Plymouth state, my second season a player asked if I had any "face moisturizer" on hand in my office. I know that the pros have toiletry items on hand at all times, but at Division III it's very slim. The Women's coach had a personal bottle in her office that the player used, but that was the funniest request I've received so far in my career.
5. What was your best in-game solution or fix to get somebody with a gear/injury requirement issue back on the ice?
The skate edges of player are very important. When a player steps on something or loses and edge, the blade needs to be fixed so the player can skate. The new Bauer "Edge" holders have made this very helpful for equipment guys like me to replace for the players on the fly. This has changed the time frame tremendously for fixing that. Before, I would have the player unlace the skate and I'd have to run to the sharpener to sharpen the skate. Now, I get to quickly replace the steel with a snap of the Edge trigger. I'm still waiting for that goalie strap to snap mid game, but I'm pretty prepared with the tools I bring to the bench.
6. What is in YOUR bag?
I bring maybe a little more then I need to the bench and at times other equipment guys have said it's a little excessive. I feel you always have to be prepared for whatever might happen and for the majority of rinks we go to, the benches are a long way from the locker room, sometimes even across the ice. I bring extra sharpened steel in each size with steel removal tools. I bring one style of each tape. I bring hard and soft wax. I bring two rub sticks. I bring an edge again hand sharpener. I bring a few stones, a sweet stick, and plenty of helmet screws. For tools I bring screwdrivers, scissors, pliers, thick needle and wax thread, and a lighter. Oh and super glue. So yeah, maybe excessive but I feel I'm ready for whatever comes. I also have a full spread of tools I leave by the locker room and travel with.
Be sure to check back on the blog for more interviews from equipment managers around the league, giving you first hand knowledge of exactly what players are looking for in their gear.
If you want to check out some more of Iggy's day-to-day, throw him a follow on twitter @EQguy44 He's always posting great gear photos right from the locker room.