Dudley living the life at LSU
Luke Dudley is living a dream even in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic nightmare that is gripping the nation.
The 2011 Seabury Hall graduate is an equipment manager for Louisiana State University and owns three shiny rings from the Tigers’ 2019 national championship football season — one for the Southeastern Conference title, one from the school for the national crown and another from the College Football Playoff committee for the national championship.
He was drenched with Powerade more than once in the 15-0 run as he tried to save the headphones worn by head coach Ed Orgeron, who calls Dudley “Maui,” from being shorted out.
Dudley has spent time in the equipment rooms at LSU, Georgia and Ohio State. He graduated from LSU in 2016 and landed his current job about a year ago.
“I didn’t even know that this was, like, an avenue until I got to LSU,” Dudley said via phone on Monday. “Now, looking back on it, I remember when I was a kid watching the Miami-Ohio State national (championship game), it was the (2003) Fiesta Bowl, I think.
“Right before kickoff at the (2020) national championship game I thought back to that thought of me as a little kid watching. I thought back, ‘Hey, I’m here now.’ It’s just so surreal thinking back about it.”
Dudley’s older brother Kasen Dudley is the director of operations for LSU tennis for both the men’s and women’s programs. Both Dudley brothers are LSU alumni.
“We were talking about it the other day,” Luke Dudley said, recalling the national championship run-up in New Orleans. “That whole week Thursday to that Monday (game night), came back (to Baton Rouge) Tuesday, it was an off day Wednesday, left Thursday night to the White House, did the whole White House thing Friday, came back Friday night and we had a parade on Saturday.
“That was just the craziest week of my life.”
Kasen Dudley is working on his MBA, and tennis is one of the sports besides football that Luke Dudley handles as an equipment manager.
“I report to him for tennis, so we see each other all the time,” Luke said with a chuckle.
Luke Dudley has an intricate knowledge of big-time college athletics. He played one season of baseball at NCAA Division III Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala., before transferring to LSU and quickly became a student in equipment management.
“I wanted to get involved in athletics and this kind of popped up,” he said. “When I graduated from LSU in 2016 I took an intern spot with the University of Georgia and I worked with their football team — (coach) Kirby Smart’s first year over there.
“Then I took a job with Ohio State and I worked with their lacrosse and football teams. … I got back to LSU in May of 2019, about a year ago.”
He is one of four assistant equipment managers with LSU, which has separate equipment directors for football and Olympic sports. Dudley’s list of responsibilities include football, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, and men’s and women’s tennis.
As he looks around the landscape of college sports, Dudley knows there is nothing certain but uncertainty.
“I’m not too sure right now,” he said. “We’re still on the same timeline of everything here right now. Even though we didn’t really have spring football, we still had to maintain all the same things on our end. Post spring we still had to deal with the same stuff in April and May and June, stay on the same timeline.”
LSU football players are set to report for fall camp on Aug. 6.
“We’re just taking it day by day, there’s something new every day,” Dudley said. “We’re still acting like it’s normal timeline. We’re just going day by day over here.”
There were protocols in place before the pandemic for the LSU equipment staff, and now those things have ramped up a great deal.
“Laundry, that’s one of our big things that we do day to day,” Dudley said. “Our guidelines are still pretty much the maximum. The trainers came to us and said, ‘Hey, you need to wear gloves when you do laundry,’ you know this kind of stuff. But we already kind of do that anyways.
“Now, when the players (arrive) we’re going to be sanitizing the balls when they’re using them for their own workouts, so to speak, when they’re throwing on their own. So, we have some plans in place for when the time comes that we do practice.”
Most of the football players are already in Baton Rouge for voluntary workouts. Like several other programs, the Tigers have already had to deal with a coronavirus outbreak. Last month, at least 30 LSU players were quarantined because they either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did.
Dudley and the Tigers staff are doing everything they can to mitigate any potential spread of the virus.
“From our end, we’re sanitizing the locker room with a blower that sprays out this solution, so we’ll sanitize it one or two times a day,” Dudley said. “The strength staff is sanitizing the weight room after every single workout and that kind of stuff.
“We’re wearing masks all throughout the building. We come here in the morning and having temperature checks, we have to wear a wristband that says we got our temperature checked and we’re wearing masks all the time.”
Dudley feels confident in a couple things — LSU has solid guidelines and protocols in place, but this pandemic is not going to work hand in hand with football and any sports’ plans.
“We hear something different from the CDC every single day, so over here we’re just trying to stay on top of it as much as we can to protect the student-athletes, the staff, our own students and all that sort of stuff so we can have a season,” he said.
Football road trips — where little sleep happens for Dudley from Wednesday to Sunday — can be arduous, but the 27-year-old who grew up on Maui is living a dream every day when he enters the LSU Football Operations Building.
“It has its days, but in the end it’s awesome,” Dudley said of his job. “I think one of the coolest things, too, is when people from the outside take a tour of our facilities that we got and they’re coming into my office, so to speak, and looking at what I see every day and saying how awesome it is, so that’s a cool thing about this job, or one off the many cool things.”