Oct. 22, 2004
by Chris Masters
Of all the symbols associated with the Notre Dame football program, perhaps none is as universally recognized as the gold helmet. Its modest look, with nary a logo to be found, and what it stands for are what makes Irish football second to none in the college football world.
The responsibility of maintaining not only those famed gold helmets, but every other piece of football equipment, is held by head equipment manager Henry Scroope. Now in his sixth year at Notre Dame, and fifth with the Irish football program, Scroope is charged with making sure every Notre Dame football player is safely protected when he takes the field, while also preserving the high standards of appearance that go along with being a member of the Fighting Irish.
“The most important part of my job is the protection of our student-athletes,” Scroope says. “Part of my certification as an equipment manager involves going through continuing education on the latest developments in all types of gear. We make sure our players take the field in the best equipment possible so they are well protected and equipped to play their best.”
Scroope has been associated with Notre Dame athletics for the better part of the past decade. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., he enrolled at the University in 1993 and began working on his bachelor’s degree in government. A three-sport athlete in high school, Scroope wanted to continue his athletic career in college and found the best means to do that was through the Notre Dame athletic student manager program.
Unlike any manager program of its kind in the country, the Notre Dame model provides support for virtually every other athletic team on campus. Midway through their freshmen year, students at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are invited to participate in the manager program, with approximately 100-150 signing on as sophomores to work with the Irish football team. Primarily, they work with football game preparation, including painting the omnipresent gold helmets each week.
After their sophomore year, the managers go through a peer evaluation, with the top 21 candidates being invited back for another year with the football program. The process repeats at the end of the following football season, with the top three students being designated “senior managers,” while the remaining students may choose which of the other Irish athletic teams they would like to work with during their senior year.
Scroope went through this process himself and in 1996, he was selected as a senior manager in charge of personnel as a member of Lou Holtz’s final Notre Dame team. It was a process that had a significant effect on Scroope’s life.
“Being a manager taught me a great deal of responsibility, as well as how to interact with different groups of people,” he says.
After graduating from Notre Dame in May 1997, Scroope returned home to Staten Island where he spent time as the assistant manager at Silver Lake Golf Course and later became the marketing and promotions coordinator at Wagner College. However, Notre Dame remained his first love, and in 1999, he jumped at the chance to fill the vacant position of assistant equipment manager for the Irish.
A year later, Scroope moved into his current position as the head of the football equipment operation at Notre Dame. It also brought his journey full circle, as he now oversees the very same student manager program that he enjoyed so much. Since his promotion, Scroope has been proactive in the area of student-athlete safety, serving on the Schutt Safety Council in 2002 and 2003 while helping the helmet manufacturer come up with new methods of head gear protection.
Somewhere in the midst of his varied responsibilities at Notre Dame, Scroope found time to marry his college sweetheart, Maggie, in July of 2003. In fact, the wedding coincided with a unique job opportunity for Scroope — the chance to work as an assistant in the American League clubhouse at the 2003 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The game itself was just three days after Scroope’s wedding and he is the first to admit it took a very understanding spouse to pull off such an arrangement.
“I’m very fortunate to have someone like Maggie who loves sports as much as I do,” Scroope says. “She had as great a time at the All-Star Game as I did and we were able to go on our honeymoon after the game. I think that was probably one of the greatest weeks I’ve ever experienced.”
The marriage of Scroope with the Notre Dame football program has been equally great. In fact, you might say that it’s a perfect fit — just like a gold helmet.
Caption: Henry Scroope has served as the football team’s equipment manager since 2000. His job is to maintain all the equipment used by the Notre Dame football team and to make sure that every player is protected when he takes the field.