Longtime Penn State football equipment manager Brad "Spider" Caldwell isn't throwing in the towel, he's just hanging it up one last time.
After 31 seasons with the Nittany Lions, spanning decades with Joe Paterno, Bill O'Brien and most recently, head coach James Franklin, the beloved figure around the Nittany Lion program is retiring, the university announced Thursday morning via press release.
From the release: "A member of the Penn State football equipment staff since 1986, Caldwell and his wife, Karen, are relocating to their vacation home in Vermont, where he has accepted a position as Activities Director for the Fair Haven Union High School in Fair Haven, Vt. Among the duties of the Activities Director is serving as the school's athletic director. Caldwell will begin his new position on July 1.
"The Nittany Lions' Equipment and Facilities Coordinator, Caldwell began his association with the football program in 1983 as a student manager after spending his freshman year at Penn State-DuBois near his hometown of Curwensville, Pa. He has been on the sidelines for 379 Nittany Lion games during his 31 years of outstanding and "team-first" service to Penn State and the football program."
Frequently noted as the first person Penn State prospects are introduced to upon touring the Lasch Building, Caldwell has long been a conduit between the players and coaches and, as a result, has often found himself a trusted confidant to Nittany Lion players both past and present.
"Words cannot begin to express the gratitude I have towards Penn State for all the opportunities it has given me through the years," said Caldwell in the release. "The `Penn State Family,' from all the lettermen, coaching staffs, managers, countless alumni and fans, is what makes Penn State such a special place.
"I'd like to thank, first and foremost, Coach (Joe) Paterno, who became not only my coach, but a father and grandfather figure to me. He instilled in me the values and discipline that I carry with me today. Thank you, JoePa, for all the great memories. I'd like to also thank Coach (Bill) O'Brien, for letting me be part of two of the most special groups of players in Penn State history.
"Finally, I'd like to thank Coach (James) Franklin for giving me an opportunity to be part of his staff. The staff he has put together to lead Penn State to great things in the future made this a difficult decision."