The Gear Man
When the sun crests over the top of Georgia State Stadium and traffic starts to bustle along the Downtown Connector, you can bet Nate Simon’s work day is well underway.
Simon, a former safety for the Panthers football team, is the head sports equipment manager for Georgia State athletics. Chances are he’s been at the stadium and on the clock since 5 a.m. The hours are long — some days he doesn’t get home until after 10 p.m. — but if you ask him, Simon wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love it,” he said. “Not many people can say they work for a Division I football program and get to be around the sport all the time.”
Simon came to Georgia State in 2014 from Golden West College in Southern California and was a contributor on the 2015 team that made it to the program’s first bowl game after trouncing Georgia Southern 34-7 in the last game of the regular season.
His role today is just as important to the team’s success. Simon and his crew painstakingly ensure every helmet fits its player exactly right and that the uniforms and practice gear are clean and in place. They even help the coaching staff during practices. “Nate’s work is absolutely invaluable,” said head football coach Shawn Elliott. “What they’re able to do to keep the operation moving is key for us. And it’s always great to have former players like Nate involved with the program.”
Simon places every number on every piece of clothing, loads and unloads equipment between the Sports Arena and the stadium, and runs more than 20 loads of laundry every day.
One of Simon’s high-profile jobs is placing the Panther decal perfectly on each helmet.
“It has to be perfect,” he said. “That’s one of the first things people see when the players run on to the field.”
It’s not just the player’s clothes either. Simon maintains the entirety of the coaching staff’s pristine polos and pants for game day.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Simon, “but it’s incredibly rewarding. I love this sport, this school and this program.”
Photo by Steven Thackston