Just down the road from the Athletic Equipment Managers Association 2017 convention in Atlanta, Eddie Hardin puts his education and experience to work at Georgia State University. “I am an assistant equipment manager for football and Olympic sports,” he tells Helmet Tracker. “It’s an internship, but I’m looking for full-time work as an equipment manager.”
At the convention, Eddie will take the next step as he sits for the AEMA Certification Exam. “I’ve been able to get experience at ordering, working with vendors, working with athletes, apparel, equipment and other needs.”
Football Equipment Room Beginnings
He began his career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he served as a student manager for four years. Along the way, he interned for the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Eddie played football at Sumiton Christian High School outside of Birmingham where he also ran cross country. He likes being close to home, so when it came time to further his education, he went to UAB down the road where he planned to walk onto the football team.
Financial situations derailed the plan, but lead him to apply to work with the team as a student manager.
“Being able to be part of the team, part of the team culture, is important to me. Even if it’s just to have a minimal impact, I sure enjoy being a part of something bigger than myself. I like being part of the team,” Eddie says.
His degree in Foreign Languages and Cultures was initially to help him get into law school and maybe launch a career in international law. But the economic impact of additional school loans for further study caused him to think long and hard about the trajectory of life.
“I just wasn’t comfortable as I thought about the financial trap that it could have been,” he says. “I found I enjoyed dealing with sports equipment rather than seeking after the so-called success of being a lawyer,” he says. “I wanted to do something I loved rather than chase after the potential of making a lot of money.”
He often thinks of that first game.
UAB played the University of Florida, and he was on the sidelines of this, a Southeastern Conference school. A powerhouse. It was surreal, and he was a part of it—even if it just mean scrubbing footballs, setting up the locker room, doing some laundry. Then he learned to set up practice fields, game fields, maintain helmets and shoulder pads, do the laundry, pack trunks for game days, and everything else it takes to put a team on the field.
With a stop with the Bucs, he soon worked his way to graduation 2015 and an internship at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He ended up with the Falcons as they began their 2016 march to the Super Bowl, then took the job at Georgia State.
“Edward was working with the Atlanta Falcons when I was looking for an intern after my Assistant Equipment Manager for Olympic Sports left the first week of football season,” writes Nicholas Vogt, Head Equipment Manager at Georgia State. “When his internship with the Falcons was up he came to Georgia State and was thrown right into the fire. He came to work mostly football, but we needed him to work with the Olympic Sports.,” Vogt writes.
“I could not have been happier to have him part of the Equipment Staff.”
Someday, Eddie hopes to have his own staff.
Dream Equipment Manager Job
“Ten years from now my dream job is to be a head equipment manager at UAB or, well, be an equipment manager for the Seattle Seahawks,” he says.
In the meantime, he studies for the exam, just a week away now, and picks up some extra cash driving for Uber. “I get to meet interesting people along the way. I do it because it helps to pay the bills and I get to meet different people and hear their stories.”
When he isn’t driving or working with the Panthers, he is hanging out with friends and family, and learning to play guitar. “I’m working my way into jazz.”
Eddie admits to shyness as a youngster, which lead to a certain amount of bullying and difficulty relating to people. It’s the job with the teams that he points to as a turning point.
“This job has helped me come out of my comfort zone and relate to people. It’s been good for my self-confidence.”