As the BYU football team progresses through its first season in the Big 12 Conference, a select group of BYU students work behind the scenes to ensure the team’s preparation and success.
Football managers are valuable assets to the BYU football team. A sort of jack-of-all-trades, they assist coaches during practice and prepare and transport gear for the team to and from the equipment room. On game day, they set up the gear in the locker rooms and on the sidelines. Once the game is over, they gather the equipment, pack it up and take it back to the locker rooms.
Evan Allen, a fifth-year senior EXDM student, has been a football manager since 2019. An avid BYU football fan, Allen knew when he came to BYU that he wanted to get involved with the team somehow. When he found out about an open manager position through his uncle, he quickly interviewed and began his work with the football team after returning from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I got back on a Wednesday, and on that Saturday I was down here getting ready for the start of the 2019 season,” Allen said.
This word-of-mouth publicity is not abnormal for a BYU football manager position. In fact, information regarding becoming a football manager can’t be found anywhere online or on campus. Being a football manager is not a paid position – it is technically an internship, explained Allen. As interns, the managers receive free tuition and a book stipend. Additionally, as official staff they receive BYU apparel and have the opportunity to travel with the team.
According to Allen, managers work an average of 60 hours a week with an average of 12 hours on game day. On top of their duties, managers are also full-time undergrad students with at least 12 credit hours.
Senior Manager Cody Wolcott grew up attending college football games and noticed the often overlooked ballboys on the sidelines. Unlike most, he thought that would be a fun job to have. When Wolcott interviewed for the position in the spring of 2021, he also had to complete a tryout as part of the new application process.
“After that spring ball, I was told I was coming back,” he said.
According to Josh Hewitt, director of Football Equipment Operations, BYU football managers understand “the backside of football” and play a supportive role on the team.
“You have to do certain roles that don’t actually apply on the field,” Hewitt said.
Although BYU football managers enjoy less public recognition than the players, they are still considered an integral part of the BYU football team.
“They’re a part of us,” Hewitt said.
While the work they do may seemingly go unnoticed, managers receive personal satisfaction from contributing to the team in whatever ways are needed.
“Just to kind of look out there and see the players lined up into the field wearing something that I did… It’s a very rewarding feeling,” said Allen, who was responsible for putting the decals, wires and stripes on the football helmets this year.
Becoming a BYU football manager requires more than a basic understanding of football. According to Hewitt, students interested in the position must demonstrate hard work and dedication during summer tryouts. Because there are only 11 available positions, the process is highly competitive.
“Obviously, we want someone that’s willing to put in the time and work and effort in order for us to be successful and succeed,” Hewitt said.
Allen and Wolcott said people are often impressed by the “cool stuff” they get to do as managers, but people don’t always recognize the significant time and energy commitment associated with the job.
“It’s a lot of sacrifice,” Allen said. “You know, during the fall, you don’t have a lot of free time. It’s basically you’re either doing your schoolwork or you’re in here working.”
Managers must complete even the unwanted tasks such as unpacking sweaty gear at 1 a.m. Those menial tasks, “earn you those chances to do all the cool stuff,” Allen said. Wolcott also emphasized that although they do spend a significant amount of time with the players and build good relationships with them, they stay focused on their purpose.
“It’s still a professional relationship,” Wolcott said.
They may be the behind-the-scenes crew of the BYU football team, but managers can be spotted on the field at every home and away game. For managers like Allen and Wolcott, getting to work closely with the team in any capacity is worth the sacrifice it requires.
Football managers have been able to visit historical stadiums and be part of remarkable moments with the BYU football team.
“Those are memories that I’m going to take for the rest of my life,” Allen said.
Allen has one final request for Cougar Nation at the next home game.
“If you are in the student section and a ball goes in, throw it back!” he said.