For Michael Dryer, it’s the family. It’s the family atmosphere among equipment managers and staff. It’s the family dynamic with the team and the coaches. It’s the family feeling across the campus.
But overall, it’s the family grounded in Iowa, Iowa State football, education and dedication to each other, that drives Michael forward to become part of the equipment management team with the Cyclones.
“When you tell someone you are an equipment manager, they either think you are an athletic trainer or ask how much laundry you do,” Michael says, laughing. “I’ve always liked football and this is as close as you can get, as close you can be to a football program, without being a coach or player.”
“You are behind the scenes and a lot of people don’t know what you do – and that’s fine by me. As long as I am making the coaches and the players happy, and making the program better, I know I’m doing my job,” Michael says. “One of my former bosses always says, ‘Love what you do!’ and I take that with me every day when I go to work.”
It took a bit of a round-about way to discover his calling, Michael says. He went to a junior college, then at the University of Northern Iowa as an education major, before deciding he wanted a career in sports. He transferred to Iowa State because, well, family.
“When I decided to go to Iowa State, I emailed the head equipment manager Jon Sedgwick, who is still the Director of Equipment Operations,” he says. “A couple of weeks later I met with Jon and he offered me a job.”
Michael worked through the winter workouts and Spring football, then three seasons—all losing seasons, but all the while growing in his understanding and responsibilities.
“Really, I was glad to experience it all. We had a coaching change and a lot happens in the equipment room when that is going on. It’s huge.”
Yes, he did laundry. But Michael’s responsibilities, as with all the equipment staff, encompassed so much more—working with the offensive line coach, manning the chains, scripting plays, spotting the ball, serving as a player-assistant on the sidelines during games—and more.
“The travel is fun, and yes, some guys really get a charge out of getting some of the gear, but for me, making people happy is what is fun. I get to be a part of it, and everywhere I’ve been there has been a family atmosphere. We are a family, and you get to be a part of that.
“You are a small group of people who potentially could do great things.”
While at Iowa State Michael spent one summer working OTA’s with Indianapolis Colts. After returning to Iowa State from the Colts, Michael spent two more seasons with the Cyclone football team and earning a degree in Liberal Arts, then was hired at the University of Nevada.
“I have seen Michael develop into a dedicated worker with a strong passion for the equipment profession,” writes Andrew Stern, the Assistant Equipment Manager for Football at The University Nevada. “He has displayed his ability to apply what he learned in school and in the equipment room as a student manager at his Alma Matter, Iowa State University, by communicating with coaches and players from different cultures and backgrounds. His skills, abilities, and overall drive and spirit have been a tremendous asset to our equipment room.”
Though he’s only been there a few months, the family atmosphere has made it (somewhat) like a home away from home.
“I’m really lucky to be here. This is a paid internship and is a great fit. I love Reno and love my time here,” Michael says. “My bosses make it a great place to be.”
The Wolfpack entrusts Michael to oversee the student managers, build practice and drill equipment, and, well, make due. “We make things work with less money,” he says with no hint of reservation and not a little bit of pride.
That family atmosphere is what Michael wants, but his biggest dream is to return to Ames, work again with the Cyclones, and be near his brother, sister, mom and dad.
“Family is always my big thing. They are the ones that push me and keep me going every day. My family is coming out west for a week this month, and it will be the first time we are all together out here,” he says. “I look forward to the times that we are all together.”