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Equipment manager Toby Palmiscno keeps Bemidji State running from behind the scenes

Laundry is just a start when looking at the many aspects of Toby Palmiscno's job, but it’s a fitting representation of how comprehensive his responsibilities can be.

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Sharpening skates is one of a multitude of responsibilities for Bemidji State hockey equipment manager Toby Palmiscno.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Toby Palmiscno does a lot of laundry.

That’s one thing you should know about Bemidji State hockey’s equipment manager. It’s just a start when looking at the many aspects of his job, but it’s a fitting representation of how comprehensive his responsibilities can be.

“I don't think people realize how much laundry we do,” Palmiscno said. “Every single time (the players) skate, we wash their base layer clothes and towels, obviously the game jerseys and game socks. And we do the visiting teams' laundry, and we do the officials’ laundry. For a Friday night home game, we're probably looking at 11 loads of laundry after the game.”

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The varied nature of his position lends itself to all sorts of diverse tasks – skate sharpening, packing for road trips and coordinating budgets, just to name a few. The season represents Palmiscno’s busiest time of year, but the offseason presents its own challenges.

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“(In the summer), I'm unboxing everything that comes for a hockey season, from equipment and apparel and all the vendors,” Palmiscno said. “It just takes a very long time to go through all of it.”

When the Beavers get ready to go on the road, Palmiscno and his team must pack up everything BSU needs to perform as its peak away from home – and that’s an extensive inventory.

“There's one (spreadsheet) for flying, there's one for busing, there's one for leaving a day early or not leaving a day early,” Palmiscno said. “On a given trip, we’ll take 23 hockey bags for the 23 players. I’ll have about 23 to 30 other items, whether it's a hockey bag or a trunk or portable skate sharpener or whatever.”

In service of success

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The work is never done for equipment manager Toby Palmiscno, who keeps the Beavers looking sharp year-round.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

He doesn’t do it all alone, of course. Several student assistants – especially those who have been with him for multiple seasons – help him compile those checklists and organize the vast multitude of assignments the equipment staff must complete.

“I'm fortunate to always have a good group of student workers,” Palmiscno said. “My seniors train the freshmen, and so when they get to be seniors, it's kind of a pipeline system. And the night before, they have a list of what they put out, what they pack, and we just go about it every day.”

Maintaining a good relationship with both BSU head coaches is paramount in his position, as they often have control over what Palmiscno has to concern himself with at different times of the day.

“You get really used to coaches,” he said. “It's funny. They're all different throughout the country, yet for some reason, they all still are very similar. You get to know what they're thinking, how they're thinking, their mood, whether it's good or bad and whatnot. But our staffs with Tom (Serratore) and Jim (Scanlan), both have been around for long enough that we know what each other's plan is. So it's pretty easy to get along with everyone around here.”

Through his time in the program, which has now spanned over a decade, Palmiscno’s noticed that the players most attentive to detail off the ice – especially those who make his job easier – are often the same ones who excel on it.

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“We ask our players to clean up after themselves and take a minute every day to make sure that they hung their equipment correctly, that they threw their laundry in the right cart,” Palmiscno said. “The players that take care of those details with us tend to be the same players that take care of details on the ice, in the weight room, in the classroom and everything. That's why it always seems to go hand in hand like that.”

Those players can even find themselves in leadership roles down the road.

“The players that come in and are the best with me freshman year tend to be the captains when they're seniors,” Palmiscno said. “It shows you what kind of people they are.”

Palmiscno also enjoys observing the growth of his proteges, especially when they too wish to seek a similar career path.

“I get student workers when they're 18-year-old freshmen, and I get to watch them graduate (when they’re) 21, 22,” he said. “And most of them want to go into equipment managing. So that's cool to see them grow and mature.”

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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