The Gallaudet Bison now battle in the Fantastic Four of the Helmet Bowl I after sweeping through the Eastern Collegiate Football in the Conference Championships to earn a spot in the National Bracket.
Gallaudet, in Washington, DC, is the nation’s deaf and hard of hearing university. The football team had a tough year on the field, going 3-7, but are marching through Helmet Bowl I with an eye to be the first Helmet Bowl National Champion.
First, they pushed past the Cheyney Wolves by 300+ votes, then rocketed past Ohio State (yes, the Buckeyes) by an astounding 600+ votes before battling through a tough Colgate squad by just over 100 votes to face a powerful Army contingent. The Bison beat the Black Knights by more than 600 votes and now face a surprisingly strong Kennesaw Owl voting block to get into the final match.
We contacted Sam Atkinson, Associate Athletic Director for Communications, to set up an interview with Equipment Manager Kris Gould. Gould was a student-athlete from ’82-’85, playing on the university’s soccer, baseball (he hit .441 in ’83-a school record at the time), and basketball teams. He joined the athletic department in 1991 and has coached, trained, managed, and been a mainstay in GU athletics. He currently serves as Facility and Equipment Coordinator.
Here’s our interview:
Q: How did you get interested in Equipment Management?
A: I have always wanted to be involved in athletics. Being around athletic equipment has always been an area that I knew I would be more involved with.
Q: What high school sports did you play?
A: I played three sports: one year of football, two years of basketball, and three years of baseball.
Q: Are you part of the AEMA (Athletic Equipment Management Association)? Why?
A: Being involved with the AEMA keeps us up to date with new regulations, new products, new care, new equipment, and with all the equipment related issues for all sports. It’s a good organization to be involved with.
Q: How big is your staff?
A: Being a small Division III school, we have one person full time. We use a lot of student managers for teams and at times we have a couple of part-time workers for our academic year. At times we try to use college work-study student/athletes to help.
Q: What challenges do you face at your school?
A: Our school is in the heart of Washington, DC. Not only do we have our athletic teams, but we also have outside groups that we rent our facilities to. This adds a lot more work for us, from contracts, liability issues, and of course set up and cleaning crews.
Q: What are the joys of your job?
A: The joys of the job are different each academic year with new student/athletes. Every day presents a different set of tasks, which makes our job more interesting. We get to serve in many areas of campus.
For me, it’s a joy to see each of our student-athletes develop as they go through our programs. Each of our teams has their own characters and it’s very interesting to see them develop into fine young student/athletes. We enjoy each of the teams that are on our campus.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you aren't around the equipment room/football?
A: On a personal level, I really enjoy the outdoors. For me, it’s an opportunity to get away from team sports.
Being away from work is a nice feeling. We all need to regroup and get thoughts back in check—whether we’ve had a great day or a bad day. All in all, it’s nice to have a little downtime before the next sports or even before the next fall season begins.
Q: Why stay at Gallaudet for so long? What do you especially like about it?
A: Our student/athletes are the reasons why I am here for the long haul. It’s been great being involved with Gallaudet for my career. The experience of seeing these student/athletes develop and grow into fine individuals has been a joy. I just hope we do enough to help them lead successful careers down the road.
Q: How do you deal with the different levels of hearing abilities on the team?
A: We strive to keep our communication open as much as we can and at the same time try to accommodate each student-athletes abilities. We aim to build into each team as a whole. It’s been a real challenge with each level of hearing abilities. The joy is when they all meld into one solid team once we work out a way of communicating with each student-athlete.
But, I believe good communication is a big challenge for any team—whether they are hearing or hearing impaired.
Helmet Tracker’s interview with Kris Gould was done through a series of email exchanges. It has been edited for clarity. Any errors are ours.