The 45th annual Athletic Equipment Managers Association Convention begins June 3 so we asked a few District Directors and other officials about what they are looking forward to in Indianapolis.
Sam Trusner, AEMA Office Manager tells us there will be about 500 Equipment Managers at this year’s convention – similar to crowd sizes in the past.
“The biggest thing this year, and most years, is the standardization of equipment and safety,” Sam says.
For years, the focus has been on football helmets, and that will continue.
“Helmet issues change daily,” Sam says. “I think it is changing for the better and we need to get the information out. Manufacturers, everyone, are doing a better job and providing a better product and now we have people involved — chemists, engineers, and neurosurgeons — who are helping get a better product.”
Sam, a member of AEMA for 34 years, said NOCSAE (National Organizing Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) officals will be talking about standards being established for football shoulder pads—a new endeavor.
Officials for NAERA (National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association) and from the NCAA Rules Committee also are slated to present.
Equipment Managers Certification Exam
Plus, the exam.
AEMA will sit 104 Equipment Managers for the Certification Exam. About 70 percent pass, Sam says.
“It’s important because it raises the awareness of what we do and how important this job is,” Sam says. “Almost every school now says you must be certified or get certified within a year to be an Equipment Manager there.”
Helmet Tracker offers an Exam scholarship that reimburses one Equipment Manager the cost of the exam and the study book. (It's not too late to apply – and it's easy).
Another issue that may rise is the importance and timing of the AEMA Convention itself.
“There are so many football camps and stuff going on that it becomes increasingly hard to schedule a time of year when everyone is free,” Sam says.
Budget restrictions and the increasing popularity of AEMA District meetings, as well as NCAA conference meetings, also play a part.
Still, this year’s AEMA Convention in Indianapolis will be popular.
“There is always something going on there,” Sam says. “It’s probably my favorite place to have convention and it’s right in our biggest district. It’s probably the most centralized location for the majority of our membership that we have.”
AEMA President Clifton Perry
Clifton is busy preparing the Princeton Women’s Lacrosse team for the quarterfinals and wrapping up the baseball season, among other tasks.
“Every convention is a little bit different. I enjoy going to convention more because of the camaraderie and the people I don’t see throughout the year,” he says. ”It’s a great chance to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while”
“Sometimes the convention is more about the personal catchup times than the professional connections, but it’s all important,” Clifton says.
He looks forward to meeting with vendors and exploring new products.
“Some of the vendors the last few years are doing a great job of developing new things that make our lives easier,” he says. “There were a few last year that really kinda blew me away. I bought them as soon as I saw them and I don’t really do things like that.”
He said his goals for the AEMA is to be as transparent as possible. “This has been the most challenging year I’ve ever had on the board of directors.
“This is my 12th year on the board and I don’t think people understand what it takes behind the scenes.”
For most AEMA members and those who attend the convention, Clifton says it’s important to continue to learn. `
“The best thing as professionals is that we need to stay current to make the changes we need to make in our equipment rooms to be the best we can be.”
Helmets for WLAX and Soccer
“I like the fact we are talking about wearing helmets in women’s lacrosse and in soccer, but at what point does it become so expensive that administrators start thinking about dropping the sport?”
Kathy Saltis, District I Director and Westfield State Equipment Room Manager
“The best thing about the convention is seeing other people and comparing notes. I am not a traveling Equipment Manager and many DIII Equipment Managers don’t travel with their teams, so at convention we get to hear about what is going on in the rest of the equipment world, see new products, and hear about new ways of doing things.”
Being an Equipment Manager at a smaller school, Kathleen says connecting with Equipment Managers from similarly-sized schools is valuable.
“By intentionally networking you learn new tricks on how to do things and how the rest of the world operates,” she says. “In DIII, the range of the people who work this job is huge. Some have training as a custodian, or groundskeeper, or are former coaches.
That’s why certification is so important. It gives us more credibility.”
She told us she looks forward to exploring Indy and its many monuments.
Mike Royster, AEMA Executive Director and Assistant Athletic Director of Athletics Facilities and Equipment at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“Equipment guys and girls don’t get a lot of time off so when you get some time away its good to relax a little bit and we try to make the convention a relaxing atmosphere,” he says.
“We have good vendors coming – I think we have about 115 or so,” he says.
Another issue on everyone’s mind is the NFL helmet testing.
Kevin Jurenko, District III Director and Stetson University Director of Equipment
“This is my first convention as a district director and I’ll be going to some of those AEAM meetings for leadership,” he says.
“But I will definitely check out the vendor booths at the convention – I make out a list of who to see.”
As with most everyone going to convention, Kevin looks forward to connecting with colleagues and seeing some of Indianapolis.
“I will try to see the Colts facility and make it out to Victory Field to see a game.” The Indians, the AAA ballclub of the Pittsburg Pirates, play in a downtown facility within walking distance of the convention. They have a home game Sunday, June 2, but are out of town the rest of the convention time.
Kerry Connor Jr., District IV Director, Director of Equipment Operations for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
“I started going to the AEMA convention in 2004 and as soon as I arrived I said to myself – I cannot miss another one.”
Kerry said the connections he’s made with other Equipment Managers form a cornerstone for the convention.
“Every year I look forward to seeing familiar faces and guys I admire and respect. There are people I like to hang out with and grab a beer and tell stories about what has happened with us.”
He also enjoys meeting vendors and finding out what the next thing or service is that will help him do the job more effectively.
“The last time we were in Indy, I didn’t get a chance to see the Colts’ Lucas Oil stadium or visiting the Indianapolis 500 Museum, so I hope to see those this year.”
Chris Dountas, District IX Director, Stanford Assistant Athletic Director-Equipment Manager
“This will be my 17th convention,” he says. “I look forward to going every year to the classes. The CEU credit classes are important and there is a good lineup this year.”
Chris is presenting a workshop on International Travel with Rob Jones, Assistant Athletics Director, Equipment Operations at UC Davis.
“He hired me as an intern about 15 years ago, so it’s going to be a big deal for me to present with him,” Chris says.
It’s those connections that form the highlights of the convention for most Equipment Managers.
“Everyone is so busy all the time. You might go to your own conference gathering, but seeing all the old friends and see what they are up to and connect – that’s one of the great things about convention.”
“I tell everyone that going to the AEMA convention is a great way to meet people. Our industry is very tight knit, it’s personal.”
Taxing Coaches Apparel
Hot buttons this year?
“There is a lot of talk about the public and state institutions having to charge sales tax and how to go about charging the coaches and staffs,” Chris says. “That will change everyone’s accounting.
Helmet Tracker wrote about the issue last month.
“And, helmets are always a big time discussion and this year the shoulder pads could be a big deal as the NFL is talking about announcing a shoulder pad ranking like they are doing for the helmets.”
Troy Jepsen, District VI Director and Head Equipment Manager at Drake
“I look forward to visiting the Adidas facility and to get a handle on the ins and outs of their operation so that when I need something it will help me understand how to do my job better.”
The Bulldogs are an Adidas school.
“I also look forward to visiting with friends and colleagues — to see what is going on and catch up on their lives,” he says. “I look forward to that.”
Troy says those connections are what make the AEMA special.
“Equipment Managers are one big family. We take care of each other.”
He says the personal and professional connections become quite intricate by the time an Equipment Manager has been to 20 conventions, like he has. But it’s just as important for young Equipment Managers to begin to build their friendships and networks as well.
“It’s never too early to start.”
- 2020– Fort Worth, TX
May 31-June 4
- 2021– Atlanta, GA
June 6-June 10
- 2022– Las Vegas, NV
June 5-June 9