Sept. 1, 2015
THE FLATS – Charlie Germany never sought fame as he roamed the sidelines on Saturday afternoons. He simply loved Georgia Tech and managing its football team. Fame was for the players he helped in his four years as a manager (1971-74).
Sometimes, however, fame finds you. That’s the case with Germany (Class of `75).
Germany will be one of nine former Yellow Jackets student-athletes inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame at the annual Induction Dinner on Oct. 16 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. He’ll join All-American shortstop Tyler Greene, two-time Olympian and NCAA track champion Chaunté Howard Lowe, All-American softball pitcher Jessica Sallinger Cole, long-time director of broadcasting Wes Durham, first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference tailback Joe Burns, four-time Academic All-America punter Dan Dyke, All-Atlantic Coast Conference golfer Kris Mikkelsen, and Jakie Rudolph, a football All-American Specialist and two sport letterman in football and golf.
Being recognized by his alma mater as the 17th student manager/trainer inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the first manager since Gus Georgeton in 2006, is something he never expected.
“It really was kind of out of the blue,” he said. “My first thought was, `It’s a great honor and I’m just humbled by it.'”
Managing was simply doing something he enjoyed.
“I loved it,” said Germany, who was informed of his selection to the Hall of Fame Class of `15 while in Romania, doing mission work for his church, One Heart Church in Norcross. “It was great and a big, big part of my Tech story.”
Helping others has always been a theme of his story, not only at Georgia Tech.
“I get a lot of gratification out of being able to help people,” said Germany, who still makes annual trips to Romania and has been to Argentina, Liberia, and the Ukraine. It’s all part of his life-long commitment to giving back.
Growing up in Oglethorpe County, Germany found managing was the perfect method to combine that commitment to helping people with his love of athletics.
“When I was in high school, I wasn’t big enough physically to be an athlete, so I was a football manager along with basketball and track,” he recalled. “Those were the only sports we had, and I was the manager for all of those teams. I did that all the way through high school and had a great time doing that.”
Though growing up in the shadow of Athens, Germany chose Georgia Tech in hopes of expanding his horizons as well as getting a first-rate education. He figured his managing career was over but soon learned he would have a hard time managing Georgia Tech if he wasn’t managing Georgia Tech football.
“Initially, I had no inclination to try to do that during college,” he said. “The first week I was there, there was a football game. I went to it and it was like, `Wait a minute. There are managers there and I miss this. I’d really like to look in to doing that.'”
That Monday he went into the football office, met with longtime equipment manager Sgt. Edgar Hodges, aka, “Sarge,” and had a job as a manager starting at that day’s practice.
As a manager, Germany had to be something of a jack-of-all-trades, available at a moment’s notice.
“We did everything from paint and repair helmets and shoulder pads and equipment, we dealt with all the jerseys, we did laundry every day, everything and anything related to equipment on the field,” he said. “We were in charge of all the blocking dummies, we had to get them in the right place. Each of us — during my career, there were between eight and 12 managers every year — were all assigned a certain thing and typically a certain coach. So we would work with the same coach, make sure they had enough footballs, make sure that they had enough whatever they needed. If something broke during practice, if a shoulder pad broke, we had to fix it. If something else broke or someone tore their pants, you’d go get another pair of pants, whatever, all related to the equipment and everything that was going on with that.
“One of us would stand on the sidelines and you’d have to be prepared if a helmet came loose or they lost a chinstrap,” he added. “You just had to be ready to fix that.”
Of all his duties during his managerial career, one stood out. It was something that kept him on his toes more than any other.
“They had tear-away jerseys back then,” he said. “One of the years my job was to roam the sidelines carrying tear-away jerseys and when players tore jerseys they had to come off. We’d rip that thing off and put a new one on so they could get back in the next play.”
Germany insists there was never any foul play, i.e., starting a tear on running backs’ jerseys so as to tear away easier.
“Sometimes they wanted to,” he said, with a laugh. “But they had to be right when they went in there or they’d take them back out.”
That last year, under Rodgers, was extra special, as by that point he had worked his way up to head manager. That meant being at Rodgers’ beck and call.
“I was kind of his right-hand guy and got to know Pepper really well,” he said, adding that he still stays in contact with Rodgers. “I stood fairly close where you could watch Pepper and make sure that he didn’t need something, but also make sure the other guys were doing what they needed to do, the other managers.”
His final game against Georgia turned out to be the most memorable game of his career.
“We had switched to the wishbone, and we were struggling with it. It was not a great year but we went over there. The game was in the afternoon. We left Atlanta in the morning, beautiful day, I wore shorts, and we drove the equipment over. By game time it was starting to rain, it got cold, I was freezing,” he recalled. “But in the rain, Georgia was a passing team, we were a wishbone team, and we just started rolling it up on them. At halftime I think we were ahead 20-0. When we came back out, I bet there weren’t 5,000 Georgia fans there. They had all gone home. All that was in the stands were Tech fans. We ended up beating them by like 20 points (34-14). In the mud, in the rain and the cold. It was just a great day, a great game. By far, that’s my best memory. It’s still my favorite game.”
A proud moment of his career came in his final year, when he named Elaine Reckard the first female football manager in Georgia Tech history.
“That was kind of neat to have the first female football manager at Tech,” he said.
Germany graduated in 1975 with his degree in Industrial Management, and, today, is 62 and a Senior Financial Advisor at Ronald Blue & Co., one of the nation’s largest independent fee-only financial planning firms.
But he never lost his passion for Georgia Tech. He kept in touch with `Sarge,’ volunteering as a manager for several years after graduation, and has been a long time season-ticket holder, a donor to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund and continues to assist Georgia Tech football.
He also never forgot where he came from, and is helping other students that are following in his footsteps, as he and wife, Sandra, have endowed a scholarship for Georgia Tech football’s head manager.
“My senior year I was on full scholarship. That’s how I made it through school, through my athletic scholarship,” he said. “I’ve always had a desire to give back because of that and about four or five years ago, Sandra, and I decided to endow a scholarship for the head football manager. We really feel blessed we’re able to do that. It’s a big part of what we’re about but I’m so grateful for what the football team, the athletic department and the school did for me we wanted to give back.”
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