Equipment manager gets more out of games than just being Paul Rhoads’ headset guy


Kyle Broich, junior in marketing, is the equipment manager tasked with the duty of following coach Paul Rhoads around with his headset during football games this season.

Kelby Wingert

Every day it’s wake up, go to class, lunch break, go to practice. On game days, it’s getting to Jack Trice Stadium five hours before kickoff and leaving two hours after the clock runs out. Kyle Broich has a routine and he sticks to it.

Broich, an Ankeny native, is a junior in marketing at Iowa State, but on Saturdays in the fall, he spends most of his time with ISU football coach Paul Rhoads. He’s the guy who holds Rhoads’ headset during games. Although, Broich isn’t just the headset guy — he’s so much more than that.

Broich and the 11 other student equipment managers spend around 40 hours each week during the season working for the team. Reid Riessen, senior in management and another equipment manager, said the crew gets to the practice facility about two hours before the practice starts every day to get everything ready for the team and the different positions.

“We’ll get whatever the coach needs for practice,” Riessen said. “We’ll set up different drills.”

Helping with the individual positions can require anything from setting up the dummies or cones to throwing the ball to players. Broich works with the running backs, but about halfway through the practice the focus will switch from focusing on the individual positions to the whole team.

Riessen said Broich will set the ball down, play after play. Once practice is over, the equipment managers will pick up the field and head on their way.

On game days, Broich and the other managers typically get to the stadium around five hours before kickoff to begin prepping for the game. The equipment staff will spend over an hour tightening shoulder pads and cleaning the helmets for the team. Then they’ll work on various other tasks to get the locker room ready for the team to arrive.

“A lot of us go out to the field, but I’m in the locker room just helping people get ready, getting shoulder pads on, fixing the straps and stuff,” Broich said.

The managers then go out onto the field with the team to help them get warmed up and ready to go when the clock starts.

After that, it’s kickoff and Broich is almost literally attached to Rhoads’ hip.

Broich carries Rhoads’ headset radio during games and must follow him at all times. Broich must keep up with Rhoads’ quick bursts onto the field every time a call is made or a flag is thrown. He paces behind Rhoads as Rhoads paces the sidelines. His only real rest is standing outside the huddle between plays.

Not many coaches have a person to hold their headset, Broich said. Rhoads said his reasoning is because he doesn’t want to have it on all the time.

“When I don’t have it on, I don’t want to be just toting it around,” Rhoads said. “So when I want it, I want it, and when I don’t, I don’t.”

The decision on who will be Rhoads’ headset guy is made by the head of the equipment staff, Rhoads said. He said it’s always been the lead offensive equipment manager, and Broich has that responsibility.

“He’s the guy that if Coach [Mark] Mangino needs somebody, he’s the one he’s hollering for,” he said. “And on game day, he’s got me. He’s got that burden.”

Broich has to be quick on his feet to make sure he has the headset ready and set to the right channel for when Rhoads wants it.

“He’s ready at a baton-exchange notice to give it to me when I want it,” Rhoads said. “And when I don’t, he’s ready to take it back.”

Rhoads said Broich is doing an outstanding job with his responsibilities, but he’s had a couple slip-ups.

“I caught him a couple times trying to see himself on television or on the scoreboard, but other than that, he’s fantastic,” Rhoads said with a smile.

Every Saturday, Broich’s family watches him on TV. His parents, Missy and Allen Broich, were excited to find out that Kyle got the job with Rhoads. 

“We don’t get to see him that often right now because he doesn’t have much time to come home, so it’s just exciting to see him on TV,” Missy said. “I think everyone we know now watches for him.”

After the first game this season, Broich’s parents received several phone calls and text messages about seeing Kyle on TV.

“We go to the store and people say, ‘Oh, I saw Kyle on TV,’” Missy said. “It’s kind of fun.”

Broich’s dad, Allen, said it’s fun to see his kid on TV like a celebrity.

“We’re really proud of him and we want him to have a good college experience,” Allen said. “It’s a good experience he’ll never forget.”

When Broich was first thinking about applying to be an equipment manager for the ISU football team, he called his dad to talk about it.

“He asked me, ‘Dad, should I do it?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, here’s your opportunity,’” Allen said.

Allen told him to go for it. He thought the visibility his son was going to have being on screen with Rhoads was going to be great.

“They show [Rhoads] on TV a lot and of course Kyle’s standing right behind him, so he has to stay on the ball and stay focused, which he is,” Allen said. 

Broich’s parents also sometimes see him in the newspaper when he’s in the background or in the corner of a photo of Rhoads.

“My family bought me a walking meter just to see how many steps I get in a game,” Broich said.

The result? Nearly six miles of walking with Rhoads during a game.

“It’s constantly back and forth,” Broich said. “You’re never in the same spot.”

Broich’s friends and family sit in front of their televisions watching as he follows Rhoads’ every move.

Broich also has to watch out for Rhoads’ spontaneous outbursts during games. During the game against Iowa on Sept. 13, Rhoads wanted a time out, so he ran out to get the referee’s attention and Broich had to keep up.

“You gotta be on your toes 24/7,” Broich said.

Rhoads doesn’t think about making sure Broich can keep up with him during games or those bursts onto the field when a flag is thrown.

“I just count on him doing it,” Rhoads said. “I’ve had three [headset managers], all of them have been sensational and he’s no different.”

Rhoads said he sometimes chuckles to himself when he watches the film on Sundays and sees Broich having to adjust to keep up with him.

After the game, Broich goes with the other equipment staffers to clean up, gather the team’s uniforms for the laundry and go to clean up the visiting team’s locker room. He’s done usually about an hour-and-a-half to two hours after the game.

For putting in the long and tiring hours, Broich does get paid and does get some perks. He gets what he calls a “mini-scholarship” each semester, clothes and shoes, tickets to games for ISU men’s basketball and inside knowledge of the football team.

“For a sports fan like me, that’s awesome,” Broich said.

For Broich, what makes this job all worth it is the opportunity he’s given.

“Being a huge sports fan, I love getting to go to the games and getting to be a part of everything,” Broich said.

He knows his job now may lead to other opportunities in the future as he wants to get into a career with sports marketing.

“You’ve got to work your way up somehow, so this is how I’m starting,” Broich said.

When he’s not working with the team or working on schoolwork, Kyle spends his time hanging out with his friends, watching and playing sports.

“We are big into going to the gym and playing pickup basketball,” he said.

He also plays two musical instruments.

“To most, I look like I really enjoy sports, which I do. But I also love music,” Kyle said.

He’s been playing the drums for eight years and the piano for four years.

In high school, Kyle was involved in numerous activities and held a part-time job. He says this helped with preparing him for what he’s doing now because he had to balance sports, band, school and a job while trying to maintain a social life, which is sort of what he’s doing now.

“I just try to find a time for everything,” he said

On game day mornings, Broich wakes up and dresses himself in his khaki pants and an ISU polo to match the team’s jersey that day. He heads to Jack Trice to prep the equipment and the team. When the clock starts, he’s Coach Paul Rhoads’ shadow for the next three hours. And as soon as the clock runs out, “call it a day for that job,” and onto the next.