Weber State equipment manager Shurtliff hanging up screwdriver after 25 years

Friday , April 14, 2017 - 5:00 AM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — For the last 25 years, Tom Shurtliff has been on the sidelines at Weber State as the equipment manager.

But Saturday’s spring football game will be his last day on the job. He’s set to hang up his screwdriver and retire.

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. It’s a new experience for me,” he said.

Shurtliff, 63, got his start at Weber State in 1976 when he volunteered to help his father-in-law and former equipment manager, Ron Flygare.

Flygare was also a farmer and offered Weber State basketball tickets to young Shurtliff in exchange for milking his cows. Shurtliff’s role in Weber State athletics evolved over the years and he eventually took over his father-in-law’s position in 1992.

Since then, it’s been nothing but one strenuous road trip after another, broken helmets, busted shoulder pads, jerseys and everything in between.

What will he miss most? The players.

“This job keeps you young,” he said. “I see guys my age that I went to school with and I hope I don’t look as old as them. I think I’m younger than them in spirit, because these guys keep you young.

“The only thing I don’t like is the music. I get subjected to that music all the time.”

Time at home with family is the top thing he expects to get back once he retires, but that’s not to say he didn’t enjoy the ride.

On two occasions — once at Montana State and the other at Northern Arizona — Shurtliff’s vehicle hauling Weber State’s gear was mistakenly invited into the homecoming parades of the opposing teams.

Those memories are the ones that will last the longest — that, and witnessing Wildcat hoops upset both Michigan State and North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ve seen a lot of the world that I would have never seen with another job,” he said. “I’ve been to England, I’ve been to Ireland with basketball. They took me with them on a European trip. I’ve been to probably 45 out of the 50 states.”

His longest trip was a 19-hour drive to North Dakota. He and his volunteer assistant, Ralph Frederiksen, left Thursday before the game, got in Friday night for practice, made four or five hours of headway after the game on Saturday, and completed the rest of the trip to be home Sunday evening.

Shurtliff lost his wife to cancer two years ago and the cross-country trips with Frederiksen became more meaningful.

“I never could have done this job without Ralph helping me out,” he said. “He’s the greatest. He’s been my counselor. I don’t know where I would have been without him.

“When my wife died, I could talk to him when I couldn’t talk to anyone else. We’re on the road and you can say whatever you want when you’re by yourself and he helped me out a lot. That’s what life’s all about — helping each other.”

After his retirement, Shurtliff plans to get the yard of his newly built Syracuse home in order, enjoy fishing and camping trips, and squeeze in a few a motorcycle rides.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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