Cory Hatcher, Cowboy and Equipment Manager
“I grew up in Syracuse, Kansas–a small town with about 2,000 people. I grew up on our family ranch and when I wasn't in a rodeo, I was playing as many sports as I could. I'm just a small town cowboy with a passion for sports”
With that, Cory Hatcher introduces himself, then says, “Equipment managing, that is my goal—to make this a career. Once I got to Illinois State, I fell in love with it. It’s really fun and I like being around the players and the team and the whole organization,” he says. “We move toward a goal together.”
Cory gets to the point, sums up the situation, and gets back to work. That’s the cowboy showing through, the western rancher who has branched out to the Midwest and then further East to pursue his career goal while bouncing back to the family ranch to help with the 300 black angus the family raises on 10,000 acres.
“The ranch has been part of my family for several generations. It will be a part of my life forever. I really enjoy it,” says Cory, who placed third in state in Team Roping in high school. “I wish I could do my job and be close.”
But there are no football teams who need an equipment manager out in the flatlands where Kansas and Colorado come together. So, for now, Cory has a foot in both worlds.
“Cory puts his heart and soul into everything he does each day in the equipment room and for the athletes he serves,” writes Nick Watson, Illinois State University Equipment Manager. Nick hired Cory as a student manager. “To me, this one characteristic alone is one of the most important reasons Cory needs to become (AEMA) certified and gain a position in the equipment managing profession.”
The Philadelphia Soul
Working with the Redbirds was not Cory’s first equipment management gig, just his latest. After earning a degree at Wichita State in Sports Management (he officially graduates in May 2017 after some academic accounting issues left him a few hours short), Cory continued eastward to take an internship with the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League team.
“I was assigned the office first, in player personnel. I helped set up the field and such—watched game film,” he said. “Then, the GM asked me to help with the equipment and I really enjoyed it. I got to be around the players more and be a little more myself. That’s how I got started.”
Wilkes University and Illinois State
From there, an emergency need at Wilkes University lead to a one-season assignment with the Division III Colonels. “I got more experience and took care of things for a year.” After taking time to help on the family ranch, he was accepted in the graduate program at ISU and went to work for Nick.
“I learned so much. It was great,” Cory says of his time in Normal, Illinois. “Nick was always ready to help me. I could ask him 150 questions and he would always be willing to help me.”
Recently, the ranch called him home to help with a family situation, but his sights are set on returning to an equipment room soon.
Cory plans to take the Athletic Equipment Manager Association certification exam at the national convention in June. And Helmet Tracker is there to help by offering him the opportunity to win a scholarship that will cover the expenses of the test.
“Cory is an extremely hardworking and dedicated equipment manager,” Nick writes. “Cory is the ideal individual that equipment managing needs to continue to help athletes and our profession grow.”