Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Hockey Team Equipment Manager in Oklahoma City

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Hockey Team Equipment Manager in Oklahoma City

Article excerpt

Matt Mitchell was recently recognized for attending his 1,500th hockey game. He'll earn another award plaque when he reaches 3,000.

"But that's a long time; some of those guys at that level have been working 30 years or more," Mitchell said. "I'll probably get there sooner or later. ... I can't imagine doing anything else. I love this job."

Mitchell's award came from the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and the Society for Professional Hockey Equipment Managers. He's currently the head equipment manager for the Oklahoma City Barons, and he worked with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League before that.

It's an unexpected achievement for someone who rarely skates; hockey isn't even his favorite sport to watch, he said. As a teenager Mitchell imagined himself as a professional baseball player. After high school graduation he went to college to play baseball, but within the first season he was hurt and homesick and headed back to Bennington, N.Y.

His father, who worked in front-office sales for a minor league Rangers affiliate team in the American Hockey League, set him up with an entry-level position in the arena as a stick boy. He quickly took up greater responsibilities and began to appreciate the role he played for the team. In short, Mitchell helps the players perform as well as their skills allow.

"My job is similar to what a caddie does in golf, on a bigger scale," he said. "I take care of all the players' needs on a daily basis. That's ordering, purchasing, cleaning, repairing, patching, transporting - anything you see the players wear on the ice, that's what I take care of."

He credits his education to the gear tender before him, Mark Dumas. Dumas has trained at least four others in the trade who still work in the league, including Mitchell's best friend. Mitchell is now training the next generation in his assistant Alan Oman. …

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