Supply Chain Issues Impact YSU Athletic Equipment

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Helmets. Cleats. Duffel bags. All sorts of athletic equipment line the walls and shelves inside Stambaugh Stadium.

Tennis balls? Not so much.

“You cannot find a tennis ball right now,” said Youngstown State University assistant equipment manager Tim Gallo. Like many other businesses, the athletic department is facing supply chain issues. “I don’t know if they’re just not been shipped. I don’t know if they’ve not been produced. We usually deal with Wilson and I’ve called Wilson several times to try to get balls. They’ve actually taken them off their [business to business] site because they cannot supply them. 

“You can buy them off different websites, but you’re going to wait. They say right now that it’s late February, but I believe it when I see it.”

He wants to get the student-athletes what they need in a timely manner but knows obtaining some items quickly or on time is not possible.

“It’s just about adapting to it and figuring things out,” Gallo says. “Some people are better at accepting that and figuring it out.”

Gallo, with the help of knowledgeable student assistants, navigates the needs of all YSU sports except football. Head equipment manager Alvy Armstrong handles the needs of the football team.

He said prior to the Sept. 2 home opener, which started at 7 p.m. that evening, the game socks for the Penguin players did not come in as scheduled. The order was canceled three times prior to that arrival date, forcing him to travel all the way to Beaver, Pa., to secure the socks.

“It was a bit of a cluster trying to find them,” Armstrong said. “The order came the very next day, of course, but it was supposed to be on that day. Shipping delays and things like that just creep up on you. There’s nothing you can do.

“I ordered shorts and T-shirts for winter workouts. I am still waiting for it and that was in October for January. I’m still waiting for red shorts.”

The cost of football equipment increased through these supply chain issues. He said it costs $2,500 to $3,000 per player to surround them with the proper padding, helmet, cleats, uniform and other needs.

Armstrong orders jerseys in December to get them in by June 1. Other equipment might be more challenging.

He said high school coaches prior to last year had problems getting helmets because of manufacturers’ difficulty in obtaining plastic pellets to make the gear.

“I talked to my one helmet rep the other day,” Armstrong said. “It’s a 90-day wait right now. So if I ordered them now I wouldn’t have them in time for spring ball.”

Armstrong and Gallo are constantly in contact with coaches from their respective sports, along with the BSN Sports representative for the university to see what is available.

In addition to those issues, different players leave every year and some come in through the transfer portal. Also, some sports had seniors receive an extra year of eligibility – adding to the rosters and equipment orders.

“You have to take into account all those situations, especially with the transfer portal the way it is,” Gallo said. “The kids are coming and going and you just have to adapt and do what you have to do to get it done.”

Each athletic program has an equipment budget, but also fundraises to offset any costs that may exceed those constraints. Gallo monitors that situation to let the teams know when they might need extra funds to cover costs.

“I said to the coach, ‘We have X amount of dollars left in your budget for equipment,” he said. “They’ll be like, ‘Okay, I got enough fundraising money that we can go ahead and order this.’ I can take money from here or whatever.”

As for the supply chain issues incurred by not only YSU, but all businesses, Gallo wants to remain optimistic. However, he’s ordered soccer balls for the women’s soccer fall season and that delivery date has been pushed back. The same can be said for basketballs.

“I don’t know if that’s because they’re sitting on a ship out on the ocean or if they’re not making them,” he said. “It’s going to take time. I think time is going to solve everything, whether that’s a year or five years or whatever.”

Pictured: Alvy Armstrong and Tim Gallo oversee equipment purchases for YSU athletics.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.