Stony Brook Football was getting ready to fly up to Maine for a game that weekend. The team lugged several trunks filled with extra uniforms, helmets, cold weather gear, tape for trainers — the standard haul for a road game.
But the team was to fly on a smaller plane than they are accustomed to and would therefore not take all the trunks that they typically travel with. With their flight leaving soon, the athletics equipment department needed to find a solution immediately. In a display of quick thinking, Enzo Zucconi, director of equipment operations at Stony Brook University, decided to ditch the trunks at the airport and squeeze everything into garbage bags.
As per usual, Athletics’ unsung hero came through in the clutch.
The Stony Brook Athletics equipment management department is “putting out fires everyday” and Zucconi is right at the center, extinguishing each one. “You must be able to think on your feet,” he said.
Zucconi, an upbeat and outgoing Italian American, has held his position since June 2016. Before his Stony Brook stint, he served at Columbia’s equivalent position for 16 years. As the director of equipment operations, Zucconi is responsible for designing attire, ordering equipment, cleaning uniforms and ensuring that equipment is safe for athletic use.
However, he brings more to the position than just dealing with equipment. His jokes and upbeat personality have become contagious throughout Stony Brook Athletics and are sure to serve as a locker room moral boost. Robert Schultz, the assistant director of equipment operations, has worked hands on with Enzo for the past five months.
“He’ll sing to himself and then we will throw out a random band he never heard of. He told us he went to a Fall Out Boy concert and he started singing,” Schultz said about Zucconi, who speaks with a thick Long Island accent. “But it didn’t sound like Fall Out Boy to me.”
He takes great pride in treating every Stony Brook athlete the same. It does not matter if they are garnering national attention or if they play doubles on the tennis team; they are all getting bombarded by an equal amount of Enzo’s jokes while he assists them.
“We are working with young adults here. They are all positive, all upbeat. It is kind of contagious,” Zucconi said. “I feed off their enthusiasm and they sometimes feed off of mine.”
Zucconi recognizes that the pressure to win will inevitably breed stress and head-butting for student-athletes and coaches. That is why he aims to make the equipment room a haven where coaches and players can stop in at anytime to chat or blow off steam.
“I have the couch down here, the rocking chair, because I want coaches to come down here and shoot the breeze a little bit,” Zucconi said. “Not even talk about sports. We talk about the game last night, we talk about our kids or what we did over vacation.”
He claims that Stony Brook Men’s Lacrosse coach Jim Nagle and Women’s Basketball assistant coach Dan Rickard, among others, will routinely stop by to take a breather from the day and even see what lays within Enzo’s candy bowl.
“I’m always down there. He always has something good, but it’s not just the candy bowl,” Rickard said. “He is like a psychologist, too. You can sit down and get a little mental break and he just always has something positive to say.”
Jason Headman, the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s cross country and track teams, will even stop by the equipment room and put in some work helping the staff if it means kicking back with Enzo. The Athletics family had nothing but kind words to say about him and the job he does.
“No one really understands the passion he has for the athletics deptartment in making sure that athletes are feeling good,” Rickard said. “It starts by making sure you look good and that’s a goal for him.”