Riessen lives California dream on summer break

AMES – Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Reid Riessen didn’t spend his summer working in an ordinary job.

Or in an ordinary place, for that matter.

The 2011 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate was an intern with the San Francisco 49ers in California, working toward fulfilling a career goal.

Riessen, a student at Iowa State University majoring in business management, is a student equipment manager with the Cyclone football team. That helped lead him to the position with the 49ers of the NFL.

“I enjoyed my first season with the ISU football team, but I wanted to see what else was out there and experience something new,” Riessen said. “There is a website called Athletic Equipment Managers Association, which posts jobs and internships for all types of sports.

“I was interested in football since that was the only sport I had experience with so far, and I saw openings for internships with both the 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I applied for both and I received a phone call a week later from Doc Dressler, who is the assistant equipment manager for the 49ers. I had a phone interview – which must have gone pretty well – and that led to a callback a few days later, where they offered me a position.”

Riessen, who played football in high school for the Dodgers, also received a call from the Jaguars, but he had accepted the position in San Francisco by that time.

With the 49ers, Riessen was in charge of several things. He helped set up the field for practice, worked with assistant coach Jim Leavitt and the linebackers, spotted the ball during team scrimmages and worked on the helmets in Santa Clara, where the team trained.

“My biggest highlight would probably have to be just interacting with the players,” Riessen said. “These are guys who are famous and getting paid millions of dollars, but they still took the time to talk to me and wanted to get to know me.

“It was the same way with the coaches. They asked where I was from, where I went to school, if this was a career I was interested in – even just had casual conversations about random topics.”

Riessen said that he thought he would fly under the radar during his time with the franchise, which has won five Super Bowls and was in the big game two years ago.

“I met people left and right in all areas of the team and actually got to know them pretty well,” Riessen said. “Going in, I was expecting to basically be unnoticed.”

During game days, he set up the locker room, played catch with players to get them warmed up, applied double-sided tape to shoulder pads and returned kicks for the punters.

“Then during the game I just had to keep my ears open in case a played needed an adjustment with their equipment,” he said.

Riessen noticed one big difference between college players and NFL players – other than just their size.

“The NFL has such a wide variety of gloves and cleats,” he said. “At Iowa State, since we are a Nike school, the players have a certain amount of options. In the NFL, some players have endorsements with Nike, Under Armour, Adidas or another company.

“There’s just a lot more to keep track of and keep in stock.”

As he heads back to school in Ames, Riessen wouldn’t be against taking on another internship with San Francisco or “any of the other 31 NFL teams.”?His ideal job choice would be in the college game, though.

“I think I would like to be a head equipment manager for a college team,” he said. “I would feel more comfortable at the collegiate level. But this was a great experience.”