Badgers equipment manager reflects on 50 years with team

CREATED Apr 2, 2014

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MADISON -- He's one of five people involved in both Badger Final Four appearances -- but according to the players on the men's basketball team, there are so many reasons why their equipment manager is so special.

If you've been to a home game in the past 50 years, you might recognize Otto Pools; he's the guy keeping score, managing the equipment and even officiating practices.

"We get everything from the balls, to the equipment, to the towels, to the opponent's jerseys, everything like that together, so when Coach Ryan is ready to go at 1:30, everything is ready," Pools said.

He said he never kept track of the games he's worked, but he imagines it is well over a thousand.

"Sometime I think I probably ought to write down how many I really did work," Pools said.

One year was unforgettable - in 2000 - the last time the Badgers went to the Final Four. But this time, he said it's different.

"It's a lot bigger thing than it was 14 years ago, lets put it that way," he said.

The fans may be louder, but he said this team and how close they are makes them all family.

"I dont think i've ever been involved as much with these kids as I have been this year," Pools said. "They're just like my own kids. It's so much fun to be part of that group and i guess they like me too."

Now ready to hit the road for the Final Four, Pools is ready to be there for his boys.

"There's nothing I can do about it, but I can cheer like hell at the end of the game and that's the fun part of it," he said.

Before hitting the court each of the players either rub Pools head for good luck. He said it's nothing less than an honor.

The Badgers play the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four on Saturday at 7:49 p.m.