That wariness she notices from football players when they encounter their first female equipment manager dissipates quickly when they learn something about her.
“When they start talking to me they quickly realize I know football,” says Alanna Widman, who served with the Tiffin University Equipment team for four years. “That helps a lot.”
She grew up not far from the Tiffin campus, attended Calvert High School where she played softball for a time but found she liked the supporting role better.
“I realized I really didn’t like softball, so I decided to just help them,” she told Helmet Tracker. “I enjoyed that more than playing.”
Alanna liked being part of the team, being around the players, and around sports. She served the volleyball, basketball, and softball teams in high school, then went across town to Tiffin.
“Dad told me to find a job,” she said. “I got an email from the football department and they needed help.”
Laundry, Face Masks, and Nike
Soon she was learning more about football—and more.
“Some of her job duties include doing seven loads of laundry a day, setting up the fields with all the football equipment, filming practice, fixing helmet bladders, face masks, and chin straps, organizing the equipment room, inventory of all equipment, registration for camps, ordering of football gear through Nike, and much more,” writes Adam Neugebauer, Tiffin’s Offensive Coordinator and Head Equipment Manager.
“Alanna makes my job so much easier. I know that if I give her a task, the task will be done right away. Most times I do not even have to ask her to do something because she has the job done already.”
Neugebauer’s reliance on her spread to other staff and players.
“They never had a female in that position before, it was a learning experience for everyone,” she remembers. “I was the only female with the guys at practice. It was different. The atmosphere is different. What helped me is I know a lot about football—my Dad is a football coach.”
Players and Staff Trust Her
The players learned quickly to trust her, and to call on her for help. Soon, during games, players would start calling her name as they ran from the field with an equipment problem.
“This was my dream job even before I knew it was what I wanted,” Alanna says. “I want to do what I am doing now—in football.”
She’s always been around the game, around sports. She has two brothers and attended all their games. Then, she was part of it herself.
“Suddenly I had 150 brothers,” she said.
Alanna will take the Equipment Manager’s certification exam at the Athletic Equipment Managers Association national convention in Atlanta next month. She is a candidate for Helmet Tracker’s AEMA Scholarship.
She has graduated with a degree in Sports Recreation Management and is looking for a job in an Equipment Room. As far as being a female in a male dominated arena, she says it’s a non-issue.
“I’m just there to do the job I love,” she says. “I want to see the athletes excel in what they do.”
She follows the nearby Cleveland teams—the Indians, the Browns, and the Cavaliers, plus the Miami Dolphins.
Division I Dreams
“I want to work for a DI school in the Big 10 or another major conference, or at the NFL level,” she admits.
Neugebauer knows she will be an asset to any team she works with, and the other staff as well.
“Her drive and motivation is contagious. She makes others around her work even harder. Since she has been working for our football team, she has recruited and brought on five other managers,” he wrote.
When she isn’t working or looking for work in sports, she is hanging out with her family—and that usually involves sports as well.
“I’m okay with that because I love it.”