A native of Discovery Bay, California, Austin Rodriguez begins his first season as the assistant equipment manager for the Barracuda after serving as the third member of the equipment staff in 2017-18. SJBarracuda.com sat down with Rodriguez recently to ask him a few questions as a part of the offseason staff spotlight series.
How long have you been with the organization and how did you get your start in equipment?
I started working with Sharks doing ice maintenance in 2016. From there I slowly moved my way up and worked hard. I guess it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. From ice maintenance, I began tending the visiting NHL locker room and then last year I helped the Barracuda as the third member of the team before being promoted to the assistant position this summer.
You’ve worked in the visiting NHL locker rooms for the last two years, what did you learn from that experience?
It was great being able to work in the NHL room with all the guys. Everyone around there has a ton of experience, and I was able to learn a lot from that.
Did you always envision yourself working in sports?
Coming out of high school I originally wanted to be a firefighter, but once I realized I wanted to be in sports, I took my shot at it.
Did grow up playing hockey as a kid?
Yeah, I played roller hockey and a little bit of ice as a kid and that kind of led me here.
What’s your fondest Barracuda memory so far?
There’s been a lot of them but last year we didn’t think we were going to make it into the playoffs and we squeezed in at the last moment and it was a heck of a run and a lot of fun for everyone.
What’s the most rewarding part about your job?
Being around professional athletes in this environment. It’s a lot of fun and we have great fans. It’s just fun to be a part of it all.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
I’m looking forward to getting on the road with the guys, having a good year and working alongside of Murph (Head Equipment Manager: Mike Murphy). It’s gonna be a great year. We’ve got nearly an entire new staff and new coaches, and I'm really looking forward to it.
You worked with Mike Murphy last year as the third member of the equipment staff, how have your roles changed since being promoted and what have you learned from him?
Not a ton has changed, but I do have more responsibility. I've learned a lot from Murph, but mostly just work ethic. I’ve always been a hard worker, but he’s always hustling around. It’s inspiring to watch him do that, and it’s great working alongside him.