Emma Shuford ’22
The issue room in the Nolde Gymnasium is an integral part of Mercersburg’s athletic department. Students may not know its staff members well, as most only go to the issue room to pick up or drop off uniforms. However, the adults in the issue room assist students and coaches in countless ways, and the athletic program at Mercersburg would not be possible without their work.
Faculty members in the issue room perform a wide variety of fundamental duties throughout the year: assigning uniform loops, labeling lockers, and maintaining practice gear. During the summer, they clean and maintain the athletic facilities, including, for example, washing the squash courts. However, much of their hard work takes place behind the scenes. In addition to checking and re-certifying football and lacrosse helmets to ensure their safety, the issue room also makes sure that all the rec balls students use for the gym are inflated and that the stringing kits for the racquet sports are stocked.
Tim Kerr, the head boys’ lacrosse coach, said, “The issue room provides almost college level care. Uniform loops, laundry, and equipment purchases – all the things that add stress to a coach’s life like taking care of the field and equipment– are all done by them. They are an amazing asset.”
Mike Collins is the Athletic Facilities Operations Supervisor at Mercersburg, and he is in charge of the daily operations of all athletic facilities on campus, including the issue room. Kevin Chen ‘21 said, “When I was playing lacrosse, Mr. Collins helped a lot with fitting my helmet, trimming my sticks to a good length, and helping me get my goalie pocket restrung. He has also driven me to the tennis courts to get equipment and maintained the courts and grass areas.”
While COVID-19 has impacted issue room operations, just as with all other facilities on campus, the strong system built by staff members throughout the years remains. Paul Sipes, the Associate Athletic Director, said, “The people in the issue room have a remarkable system that they implement very well.” Students get clean gear and uniforms in their lockers daily. Coaches do not have to be responsible for the cleaning, inventory, and storing of equipment and uniforms. Sipes said, “Also, the school saves an incredible amount of money through the careful inventory processes the issue room uses, so that people don’t accidentally make-off with the great equipment that was issued.”
Without the issue room staff, athletes and coaches would not be able to enjoy the many privileges that come with athletic competition at Mercersburg.