If only the uniforms would wash themselves…
But, then the Des Moines Menace would be minus a crucial player in the organization – Chris Idler. No, he’s not the leading goal scorer or the team captain; however without his equipment management expertise the team simply wouldn’t look as good.
Fans can find him on the field handing out water during warm-ups and in the press box during the games, although it’s what he does during the week that makes him the total “package."
“Laundry takes way longer than practice, which is at least two and half hours,” said Idler. “I do at least four loads a day.”
Idler began with the Menace in 2001, hired to work on the Menace website. It wasn’t long until head coach, Laurie Calloway asked Idler to be in charge of the kits.
“He’s the full package,” said Calloway. “A great kid. Great sense of humor and a very likeable character with the players. He’s an asset to the team and with the team chemistry.”
“I owe a lot to Coach Calloway because he got me started being the kit man,” mentioned Idler. “Had he not asked me to do it back in ’01, who knows that I would be doing today?”
Idler holds a resume like no other. After beginning with the Menace in 2001, he’s set-up the locker rooms for collegiate and National Football League teams alike, including an impressive list of the Iowa Hawkeyes (2001-2003), Indianapolis Colts (2004), Miami Dolphins (2005), Chicago Bears (2007, 2008) and Denver Broncos (2009). He currently serves double-duty, working as the equipment manager for the Arena Football League's Iowa Barnstormers.
The same guy that folds the towels for the Menace has hung-up the jerseys of four-time NFL MVP Payton Manning and Super Bowl champions and former Iowa Hawkeyes Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders.
“It’s crazy how things come in a full circle,” said Idler. “I started with the Menace, did the NFL thing and now I’m back.”
This all-star gear guy holds a special place in his heart for soccer, especially in Des Moines.
“In terms of the PDL, the Menace has the best organization. They try to run it the right way. Everything’s first-class, top-notch,” noted Idler.
In his near 150 Menace matches, he’s witnessed everything from coaching changes, to numerous locker room talks, to a PDL championship.
“My favorite match was in the Open Cup in 2001 when we played at Rochester,” said Idler. “We got to fly on the plane and played in front of 12,000 fans. It was nuts. Nobody gave us a chance and we were able to take it into overtime. Greatest match ever.”
Idler’s years of experience have made him efficient. What’s his secret?
“I double, triple, quadruple check everything. It feels good if it’s all there, but not if it’s not all there. Then it’s like ‘oh boy’, scramble mode,” said Idler.
It only took Idler one match, his first match as the kit guy, to figure this out.
“For my first trip to Chicago, I forgot a Nike bag of red jerseys. Luckily, my dad was the pilot for Kyle (Krause, Menace owner) and Kyle was able to deliver them to the game,” mentioned Idler.
Idler remains on top of his game ever since the incident, proving that there’s nothing better than a good fold and clean socks. Although, it’s more than just laundry with this guy. His trustworthiness, gracious support and joyous spirit are what make this guy the total “package”.
Idler video tapes Menace home matches.
Story written by Menace intern Jenae Jenison. Photos taken by Menace intern BJ Stokesbary.