Head Equipment Manager for the McNeese State football program, Matt Saucier, sits at his desk. Saucier, a Ville Platte High graduate, returns for his second year as Head Equipment Manager for the Cowboys. Saucier, who spent four years as a student equipment manager for the Cowboys, was hired in his current position by former head coach Lance Guidry. Saucier retained his position with the hiring of a new coach. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)
A familiar place
During this past offseason, McNeese State University decided to change direction and hire on a brand new football coaching staff.
In fact the only survivors of the purge were the strength coach and a very familiar face to Ville Platte High athletics, Matt Saucier.
Saucier, once a trainer/equipment manager for the Ville Platte High Bulldogs was retained by the Cowboys as their Head Equipment Manager, a title he obtained last season.
And according to Saucier, the ability to stay apart of the McNeese football scene is extremely exciting, especially because Saucier has been apart of the storied gridiron program ever since graduating from Ville Platte High.
“Being able to still be apart of an organization that I have been around for the last six years is a blessing,” stated Saucier. “Last year when Coach Guidry (former McNeese head coach) called me up and offered me this job, I jumped on it immediately. In my mind there was no question about being here in a familiar place.”
Saucier began his stint in the McNeese football program in 2014 as a freshman trainer. But after a year, Saucier decided to make the switch over to the equipment management side of the sport.
For the next four years Saucier learned all that he could from his boss and made sure that he absorbed all of the in’s and out’s of being a good equipment manager. However, Saucier still has a passion for the thing that got him to McNeese, athletic training.
“When I first got to McNeese, I came here as a student trainer,” said Saucier. “But, I really did not know if that was what I truly wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to be a part of the football program in some way. When you are 18 years old, you really don’t know what path you will take. I mean I changed majors three times.”
“Once I got into the equipment side of the program, I knew that is what I wanted to do,” Saucier continued. “But, I still go over and visit Doc Murphy (McNeese Head Athletic Trainer) everyday and thank him for what he did for me. It was partly because of him that I was able to be here at McNeese.”
The passion for football has always been inside of Saucier. His freshman year at Ville Platte High, Saucier played for the Bulldogs.
However, a severe asthmatic condition halted his playing days. So, Saucier did what he needed to stay part of the program.
Saucier talked to then head coach Roy Serie and asked to become a trainer/manager. Serie, knowing that being around football was important to Saucier, gladly accepted him into the fold.
While at Ville Platte High, Saucier would attend summer workshops held at McNeese and LSU specifically for student athletic trainers. One of the main persons that helped him get that training was Tim Fontenot. Dr. Tim as he is known here in Ville Platte became a mentor for Saucier. And, as a McNeese graduate himself, guided Saucier in that direction.
“Dr. Tim was a huge help to me when I was a student trainer in high school,” commented Saucier. “I always knew I could count on him if I had a question about one of the players. I could call him anytime I needed. He was amazing to learn under. He truly is a great person.”
Saucier’s job as Head Equipment Manager holds a ton of responsibility. Not only is he in charge of making sure that the players and coaches have the proper gear and apparel for each practice and game played, but he is also responsible for ordering, fixing, and maintaining that equipment and apparel. On top of that he must also be in constant communication with the head football coach on what he wants done.
This includes things like washing the workout gear and uniforms for both the players and coaches each day, making sure that all of the necessary equipment is placed out on the field for practice and the games, and getting everything together for road trips throughout the season.
A typical day for Saucier once the season starts may last 12 hours. When road trips are on the agenda, those days may stretch even farther, as he has to be there to check and make sure every thing needed is packed on the trucks before they leave to their next game day destination.
“When we get ready to go on the road, we have to basically pack a locker room onto a truck,” said Saucier. “We can’t go to a place like Oklahoma State and not have all of the equipment or the replacement stuff that may be needed. It takes several days to plan out and get things ready to go on the road.”
As with any job, people have parts of that they consider harder than others. When asked about what he felt what he considers the hardest and easiest part of the job, Saucier paused for several seconds before answering.
“I wouldn’t call it the hardest part, but the most demanding part of the job is right now,” stated Saucier. “Having to plan for the beginning of the season and getting everything ready can be very overwhelming if you let it. Once the season starts, things tend to flow.”
“The easiest part of the job is washing the clothes, because the machine is doing all the work,” Saucier continued with a wry smile. “The part that I enjoy the most is putting decals on the helmets. The helmets are a focal point of the uniform and when they look good it gives you a since of pride that you did that.”
As with any change in the leadership of an organization, there will be changes in the way things are run. Now that McNeese has gone a different direction in their coaching staff, Saucier has had to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of his new boss.
But, according to Saucier, the transition has been rather smooth.
“It seems that the players are responding really well to Coach (Sterlin) Gilbert,” said Saucier. “It has been really awesome so far to work with him. I met with him about a week after he got hired and although we talked about the equipment side of the program, we also talked about the overall atmosphere surrounding McNeese football. I guess he figured that I could do that since I have been around the last six years.”
With Saucier’s ambition and work ethic, McNeese would probably make sure that he stays around for a long time to come.