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The Scarlet & Black

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Roger Bauman delivers in the Bear

Roger Bauman has been working in the equipment room since 1985. Photo by Jeffrey Li.

While some students are frantically finishing their research papers and cramming for tests at dawn, equipment room supervisor Roger Bauman unlocks the equipment room and begins his busy day. At the very top of his long to-do list is making waffles for student-workers who clock in at 6 a.m.

“I usually get here close to 5:30,” Bauman said. “I will prepare waffles for the student workers in the morning just to show my appreciation of them coming in that early.”

After providing them with breakfast, along with blueberries and whatever topping is available, Bauman examines his agenda and performs duties he has been executing since 1985.

“Basically what we do is order athletic equipment, order uniforms [and] repair equipment that I can,” he said. “I set up for events. I set up for class, launder the practice clothes, launder the game uniforms [and] I pack the uniforms and issue them out for away events and home events.”

Roger Bauman has been working in the equipment room since 1985. Photo by Jeffrey Li.
Roger Bauman has been working in the equipment room since 1985.
Photo by Jeffrey Li.

Bauman has been working behind the spotlight silently, usually unnoticed, yet diligently—behind Jack Taylor’s record-breaking 138-point game, the swimming and diving teams’ domination of the Midwest Conference and 1:15 p.m. Beginning Tennis class.

“I’ll go out and make sure the tennis nets are up and the curtains are down so they can have a tennis class or making sure taking back down for another class coming in after that,” he said. “If there’s a lot going on, I’ll stay until the work’s done. I don’t pay attention to the clock. Whenever the work’s done, I’m done.”

While Bauman may not always get recognition for his hard work, athletes, coaches and those who work in the Bear appreciate his role.

“He’s going to meetings with the athletic department and he does a lot of ordering for the teams and does inventory and make sure everyone’s uniforms are out there,” said former softball player and a student manager in the Cage, Jen Fulton ’15. “While he doesn’t always do everything personally himself, it’s shocking how much he does by himself.”

To fellow equipment manager Ron Cooper, this isn’t a surprising fact, as he considers Bauman a “good Iowan.”

“He’s willing to help people,” Cooper said. “He’s friendly. He helps everybody out.”

For someone whose early life was far from athletics, Bauman has spent almost his entire adult life in the athletic center. Hailing from Malcom, Iowa and playing little league baseball, the supervisor also farmed as a child.

“I played little league baseball, but I grew up in an era where all the kids worked,” Bauman said. “I went out and worked on the farm and I didn’t get dramatically involved with competition sports.”

He continued to farm after getting married a year after graduating from high school. When the farming crisis struck in the 1980s, he needed another source of income and discovered an opening at the Grinnell College Athletic Center.

“I had a friend that worked here and he was going to quit and he asked me if I’d be interested and that’s back in the farm crisis of the ’80s,” he said. “The income on the farm wasn’t very good, so I need an extra income, so I started working here.”

Since taking the job, Bauman hasn’t missed many days of work, allowing him to excel at his position.

“I’m sure it’s just like students. You do your study promptly every day and it’s real easy for you to do them every day, right?” Bauman said. “It’s just I know what the job is and I know what to do and when to do it. The students help tremendously and I have a great bunch of supervisors who help, too. It’s a combination of everything that makes it easy.”

Though he completes his tasks with ease and dexterity, Bauman continues to evaluate his performance.

“When I’m at an event, I’m critiquing my work,” he said. “I probably see things I didn’t do properly before I see the things I did well because I always want to improve at what I do. I always want everything to be done for people to the best that I can do it. I’m probably critiquing myself more than I am admiring at work.”

What has pushed Bauman to improve at his job and continue to work in the Cage is his interaction with the students.

“I just like being around the students. They’re great people,” he said. “They’re very courteous and kind. I’ll like hearing stories about where they’re from and their home life and just being around the students is what’s kept me here.”

He added, “The best memories are when students have graduated and they come back and then we’ll get to reminisce about different things and that’s what’s the most fun.”

According to Bauman, considering his relatively good health, he hopes to continue to work until he turns 70 years old, making waffles for the early birds, laundering clothes and being a pal to the students.

“I would like to think that they look at me as that old grandpa away from home—somebody they can talk to, somebody they can talk to and just a friend.”

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    Sharon LinderwellJan 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    A wonderful tribute to you Roger. And you are looking good. Happy New Year.