Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Equipment Manager Mike Peterson

Mike PetersonThrough his 16-year tenure, Mike Peterson is one of the few Raider volunteers that can say he started at the top and worked his way down, and still be proud of it. It was in 1997 when Peterson first met Bob Marcado during his first go round as Raiders General Manager. Peterson asked him how he could volunteer his services with the Raiders. With his talents as a part-time party deejay, Mike went up in the press box as the game day announcer.

Eventually, he worked his way out of the press box and down to the field as the pre-game and halftime entertainment. Sporting his trademark Raiders hard hat, Petersen fired up the crowds during Raider home games.

“My hard hat was homemade.” Peterson said. “I saw how people were making their own to show their support for that team up north, I figured I would make one for the Raiders.”

Mike eventually made enough of them they became a sales item for awhile at the Raiders Trading Post. Peterson said he also made them for the players that he thought deserved one. Two of the most memorable helmets he recalls making went to the “Iceman,” Jamie Isome and now Raider head coach Wilbert Kennedy.

But wearing helmets and firing up the crowd gave way to perhaps more important volunteer work.

“Gary Reese, the equipment manager back then asked me to help out with equipment on the road trips. Then it turned into helping out for the home games too.” Mike said.

Former Racine Raiders linebacker Jamie IsomeIn 2006, Peterson became equipment manager himself. His duties were expanded from tending to player equipment to getting the equipment out to the practice site on High Street.

“On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would spend about 5-1/2 hours each day getting the gear ready for practice.” he said. “That also included getting the tackling dummies out there, the water, ice, and everything else they needed.”

That wasn’t the end of his work week for the Raiders. On game day, Peterson would spend up to eight hours at Historic Horlick Field getting the stadium ready; everything from placing the field markers out to putting banners on the fences. Plus the usual water, ice and equipment needed by the players.

When asked of the most memorable moment he has had with the Raiders, Mike had three. The first was watching Wilbert Kennedy play his last game in Minnesota.

“That was something to see.” Mike said, “Because Wilbert was the kind of player that played for the love of the game. He embodied the spirit of the Racine Raiders.”

“The second was getting Mike Dillion involved with the team.” he said. “Mike is a unique individual who would come to watch the team practice. I asked him if he wanted to help out and he said ‘Yes’. He started doing little things like getting water for the players at practice, and now he has been with the team for some time helping out with the kind of things I did with setting up the equipment.”

The third most memorable moment happened in 2010 according to Mike.

“I was sitting in the stands and next to me was this five year old kid. He was looking at my championship ring we got in 2001. I asked him if he wanted to try it on and he nodded. So I slipped it on his finger, and put my Raiders hard hat on him and he had such a grin on him I thought it was going to break his face.”

Going on his 17th year with the Raiders organization, Mike Peterson is winding down a bit. No longer getting the Raider fans fired up, Mike is back to taking care of equipment, namely the new Raiders uniforms.

For all his efforts, Mike was recognized in 2008 as the Raiders Volunteer of the Year.

Are you ready to volunteer with the Raiders after reading this story about Mike Peterson? Contact the team through our website. The Racine Raiders are highlighting different volunteers throughout the week of April 6-12 as it’s National Volunteer Week.

by Tom Christensen, Raider Report