Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2005 | People

Fully Equipped

By Rob Howe
Greg Morris

Greg Morris was minding his own business in a Minneapolis hotel when a stranger began pointing and yelling, “I found him! I found him! It’s ‘The Shoe Guy!’”

What might have startled other people in the lobby made Morris smile. He realized that his celebrity had stretched across state lines.

During a show about ten years ago, former UI broadcasting legend Ron Gonder and his WMT 600-AM morning partner Tim Boyle inspired the moniker. A day earlier, Hawkeye Coach Hayden Fry had told reporters that his entourage would likely bring an assortment of athletic shoes to cope with the shoddy turf at Iowa State that Saturday.

“They were joking that they felt sorry for the guy who had to get all of those shoes together,” says Morris, the Hawkeye football team’s equipment manager, who kept track of about 750 pairs of shoes for 143 football players and 20 coaches this past fall. “So, I called. When they asked who I was, I said, ‘The Shoe Guy.’”

Before that, Morris, 84BGS, had toiled in the Iowa equipment room pretty much unnoticed since 1988. But he worked his way up the ladder and now oversees all gear for the football team. He and his staff order and inventory, distribute and collect, wash and repair every piece of game and practice equipment worn or used by the players and coaches—from game jerseys to shoulder pads, helmets to sideline markers.

Before all games and practices, Morris’s crew neatly arranges the players’ clothes and equipment in their locker room stalls. The football team has more than 600 practice jerseys (the top 60 players each have six), not to mention the thermal underwear for when the weather gets cold.

For away games, Morris and company pack a semi with 7,000 pounds of equipment—including video players, coaches’ headsets, team clothing, and dozens of footballs.

Once, they forgot the coaches’ shoes, and Fry’s wife, Shirley, ended up bringing them on a plane. “Imagine trying to get your family ready for vacation,” Morris says. “That’s what I have to do many times over when we go on the road.”