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Smart Storage Transforms Notre Dame Football Equipment Room into a Recruiting Area
In the heart of downtown Chicago lives the visual history of how our world came to be. From mummies and dinosaurs to a DNA discovery center and an exhibit on conservation, the Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. With over 24 million specimens in its collection, and a growth rate of 200,000 items per year, the museum is no stranger to the specific needs of museum storage.
Due to the rapid flux of artifacts, the Museum recognized a larger problem than simply having the right kind of storage — they didn’t have enough storage. The museum was quickly outgrowing its collections storage space—the delicacy of the collections necessitated specific storage, but in the current facility, it simply couldn’t happen.
A new facility is what they needed, and several years later, the Museum’s Collection Resource Center (CRC) gave them the opportunity to design the ideal storage for specific collections. In addition to museum collections storage, the facility was also going to double as an elaborate research facility for a worldwide network on visiting scientists. The two-level, 180,000 square foot building needed to protect collections while allowing accessibility to these scientists—so any storage systems created had to offer utmost protection with easy accessibility.
A Vision Turned Into a Reality
With a hand sketch of how he envisioned the football equipment room, he approached us to see if we could help. Having designed many sports equipment rooms for professional and college teams alike, we know the most important component of Notre Dame’s space would be careful consideration of the various types of gear needing to be stored.
Many people who aren’t in the athletic equipment industry don’t realize how many pieces it takes for a team to operate to the best of their ability. Each player on a typical football team has separate practice gear (jerseys, shorts, pants, helmets, shoes), cold weather gear, shoulder pads, gloves, warm-up suits, travel shirts, socks, game day gear (jerseys, pans, helmets, pads, cleats), workout shoes, and more. Multiply that by close to 100 players, and available space gets compromised pretty quickly.
Working closely with Grooms’ sketch, we began with the room’s exterior walls. This is where the team’s game day and practice gear would be stored, and the goal was fast, organized access. Stationary metal shelving optimized for specific types of gear were designed around the room’s perimeter, allowing for easy access and convenience.
Compact Mobile Storage Leads to More Space for Players
We knew that in order to get the maximum storage density possible, we would need to utilize compact mobile storage systems. As the mobile storage eliminates fixed aisles, it would be far easier to accomplish one of the team’s biggest priorities—personal storage space for every player.
Next, we installed a high-density mobile storage system, which was put in place to store items specific to each player. Players would receive their own personal area that was far bigger than the previous space they had. This extra space made things easier for equipment managers as well, by equipping the players with the necessary practice and game gear they needed. Utilizing 4-post shelving within the mobile systems, each player was able to have their own cubby for personal items—one that was far larger than their previous space. Having this extra space cut down on the crowding in the room and became a place where players were comfortable to get dressed and get into a game mindset before taking the field.
A second moveable shelving system was equipped with 4-post shelving for another set of cubbies—this time, smaller ones to store helmets. Storing the helmets in their own individual spaces created a way to prolong the life of the helmets and to keep track of them after practices and games.
In addition to helmets, another crucial storage need from a preservation standpoint was the team’s many sets of shoulder pads. Shoulder pads are an awkward size—their bulky nature means that they have to be stored upright instead of being stacked. We designed a customized shoulder pad system with an overhang configuration with cantilever shelving to stack the pads without having them rest on one another—great for preserving the shape of the pads and allowing them to dry out after a game or practice.
A Space for Equipment Managers
Notre Dame employs 25 student equipment managers to make sure the football equipment room—and everything in it—runs smoothly. In the room’s old configuration, staff used to bring in large folding tables in order for the student workers to fold clothes. Apart from the extra work, the folding tables could only support a few students at a time, and tasks took longer than they needed. With a focus on giving these students a more conducive place to work, we designed a 36” compact mobile system ideal for folding. The counter-height system is outfitted with doors and drawers to maximize storage space—and now, 15 equipment managers can fold clothes at the same time.
A Showpiece for Equipment–and Recruitment
Notre Dame’s revamped football equipment room allows the team’s equipment to be better organized, more visible, and easier to maintain and access than ever before. It also allowed the University to create another way to impress potential recruits. Modern football recruitment isn’t just about a world-class program. It’s about showing potential players that you care about their wellbeing—and that all aspects of the program are high in quality.
The mobile systems in the University’s equipment room all feature custom graphics that showcase Fighting Irish football—from close-ups of the team’s helmets to an aerial shot of the stadium. Even the system’s handles were sent to the team’s helmet company to be dipped in the same shade of signature gold. Additionally, the counter-height system in the center of the room is topped with a custom-designed quartz top that includes an inlay of Notre Dame’s logo and the words “Irish Football” into the surface material.
“We’ve have turned this into a recruiting area,” said Grooms. “We’re now able to bring recruits in and show off what we’ve done. We really turned this into a showpiece.”