When Shaquille O'Neal and his Olympic Dream Team mates lace up their shoes on their march to an Atlanta gold medal this summer, Ventura College's Jerry Dunlap will be there to make sure they actually have shoelaces.
The pleasant-mannered Nebraska native who spent 20 years as the Pirates' athletic director was recently named a volunteer sports equipment coordinator for the 18 days of Olympic basketball competition in July and August.
It will be his duty to make sure each team is fully supplied with towels, jockstraps and such while stocking each game with the requisite equipment-from shoelaces to backboards.
"If somebody breaks a backboard, we have to have one ready to go in 20 minutes," said Dunlap, taking a break from laying bricks at his Ventura home. "We have to ensure that the balls are inflated to the proper pressure-this is a very serious matter, it's not all fun and games."
On Tuesday, Dunlap, 54, said he received a thick booklet from Olympic officials, which spells out exactly what to wear and how to carry himself during the Olympics. He will be joined by his son, a Napa high school teacher and football coach, who is serving a similar capacity for the weightlifting competition.
The athletic Dunlap, who now works as a physical education instructor, acknowledged that basketball isn't even his best sport. He lettered in football, track, baseball and tennis in college and came to Ventura College 30 years ago as a wrestling coach.
Dunlap and his son got their posts the old-fashioned way-knowing somebody who knew somebody. An equipment manager who worked for Dunlap at Ventura College got a job with the sporting equipment buyer for the Olympics. He also used a connection to secure hard-to-come-by housing in the athletes' dorm.
And despite the many booklets and discussions Dunlap has had with Olympic officials, he said he and his son are still left to wonder about the important issues "How am I going to get the autographs I want? Will I be allowed to get autographs?" he asked.
"It should be interesting, at the very least."