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Nobody hates shopping like the Komets' Joe Franke

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Equipment manager responsible for stocking locker room

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 5:17 am

Everyone hates going shopping during the wind and cold, ice and snow of February, but no one despises it more than Fort Wayne Komets equipment manager Joe Franke.

Can you blame him? For one thing, he's follicly challenged and needs to wear a big hat. Then there's the grief he catches from the other shoppers who wonder what he's doing.

``Everybody and their brother looks at you like you are messed up, especially when I have all this hair gel and I have no hair,'' Franke said. ``The lady will look down and then look up, `Boy, you go through a lot of shampoo.' ''

Why would Franke be buying large quantities of hair gel and shampoo? Others think he must own stock in Bazooka.

``You must sure like to chew gum,'' someone else waiting in line behind him can be guaranteed to say. At least Franke still has all his teeth.

A couple times a month, Franke heads out to a local big-box store to stock up, and it's a massive shopping list. As the equipment manager, he's responsible for buying provisions for the Komets, their opponents and the officials for each game and practice. Imagine what it would be like to buy everything for a frat house.

Part of his supply list, mandated by the ECHL, includes liquid body wash (no bars), one bottle of shampoo, two cans of shaving cream, two cans of antiperspirant, 12 razors, one container of cotton swabs, two hair brushes, one bottle of hand lotion, one bottle of mouthwash and one bottle of baby powder.

Besides all that, each locker room gets 30 shower towels; 20 game sweat towels; 12 rolls each of black, white and clear stick tape; 10-gallon coolers of ice, water and sports drink; 200 cups; 50 pieces of chewing gum; and a coffee machine, 50 coffee cups, and creamer and sugar. A hockey team consumes between three and five pots of coffee on game days.

Then there's a pair of full-size industrial fans; a glove dryer; a hockey dry erase board, a blank dry erase board, a dry erase marker and eraser; cases of bottled water, sports drinks and soda; one clock; and a post-game meal menu.

Home teams are also responsible for supplying ice bags, hot pack covers, a treatment table, professional-grade exercise bikes, an exercise ball and all the tools players use to tape and adjust their sticks.

Depending on how busy the schedule is, the Komets spend more than $1,000 a month on toiletries and supplies. Franke fills two huge carts on each trip, and said the key is trying to avoid the busiest times at the store.

Part of the big bill is trainer Shawn Dundon going to the store for over-the-counter medicines such as Sudafed, Musinex, Tylenol and a ton of cough drops. He also keeps extra snack bars in his travel case or in the training room for a quick energy boost for the players. (He himself prefers homemade beef jerky.)

``These guys eat at 1 p.m. on the day of the game, and sometimes they are a little hungry before a game,'' Dundon said.

He also keeps Pedialyte, protein bars and extra fruit on hand during the playoffs in case the games go into overtime. Often, Dundon or Franke will catch a cab on playoff road trips to make sure the locker room is properly supplied for that night's game.

Oh, and don't forget the laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies, because somebody has to take care of the mess all those products leave behind.

``It's embarrassing buying all that stuff, because they think it's all for you,'' Franke said. ``They think we're doing it for a school or something.''

Either that, or he's the ultimate Fort Wayne survivalist fighting the cold.