Tucked away from the bright lights and noise of the Siegel Center crowd is a room packed floor-to-ceiling with Nike products and equipment. That little room is equipment manager Kris Kullman’s playground.
Kullman arrived to Richmond about six months ago from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, where he was the head football equipment manager at Division II Shippensburg University. His responsibilities at VCU include outfitting all 15 sports teams from head-to-toe, ordering new gear and doing laundry, among other tasks.
“[My favorite part] is definitely all the Nike check marks, for sure,” Kullman said, pointing to the wall of orange Nike shoe boxes. “I’m a little bit of a gear snob now that I’m around Nike stuff all the time. But I love that part, coming in knowing what our student-athletes are going to be wearing. When the season rolls around, I take pride in seeing them look good.”
Summer and early fall are both particularly busy times in the equipment room — or, as Kullman called it, “Christmas every day.”
“It’s definitely the busiest times for us just because we are getting shipments everyday — between 30 and 80 boxes a day,” Kullman said. “You never know what you’re going to get, so if you ever come into this room in the summer, you’ll find us hidden somewhere. It’s stacked to the ceiling and you get a one-foot walkway.”
The fall season proves to be a hectic time in the equipment room because a bulk of the Black and Gold teams are in season.
“Fall is pretty hectic with both soccer teams, field hockey, volleyball and cross country. So we are pretty busy,” Kullman said. “Every time I get space in here, we always get a new shipment and then we are stuck in it again for a little while.”
VCU hosted the Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championships Nov. 16-18 and Kullman had a little more work and laundry added to his normal workload on a typical weekend. He remained on-site for all three days of the tournament, changing the towels on the benches, stocking the locker rooms and doing laundry for the Rams and one of the visiting teams.
Kullman attends every Men’s Basketball game, but much of his job is done before tipoff.
“We are always on staff for basketball on game day,” Kullman said. “We set up the locker rooms, make sure the visiting team is taken care of, and the officials. We stage all of our uniforms up, roll them down on a hanger rack. We get our guys ready to go with their game loops with all their undershirts, along with their shooting shirts, warm-up jackets and uniforms.”
Once the uniforms are washed and dried, they are put on hangers. This allows Kullman to easily set up the locker room on gameday with one of the steps already done in advance — he said the setup process takes about 20-30 minutes.
Another duty Kullman takes on as collegiate equipment manager is designing uniforms, which he did for the first time with the Rams this year.
“We just designed a new gold baseball jersey a couple months ago and I’m looking forward to that,” Kullman said. “That was the first one since I’ve been here that I had a big hand in.”
Kullman’s favorite jersey was a fan favorite a year ago on the court at the Siegel Center, which made a return to the floor this season after receiving the A-10 patch on its collar. The Men’s Basketball team wore the gold alternate jerseys Nov. 24 against Hofstra for the first time this season.
“I love the throwback look,” Kullman said. “It’s definitely my favorite, I think we have a ton of great uniforms, but if I had to pick that would be it.”
This season, Men’s Basketball will wear four different uniforms — the home white; away black; gold jerseys and the newest addition to the lineup, an all-gray outfit with the Ram logo on the chest.
The job is not for everyone, but Kullman enjoys it even if it means handling sweaty clothes after a game in the laundry room across the hallway from his office at the Siegel Center.
“It’s a dirty job. Not everybody wants to get their hands in the sweaty uniforms after a game. It’s difficult, but it’s also rewarding whenever we win,” Kullman said. “I wouldn’t do this unless it helped our team win games and championships.”
Noah Fleischman Staff Writer