It took a while, but Equipment Manager Franklin Christie found his place.
From North Carolina, Franklin cast about trying to find a place to play football after solid high school career. Three schools expressed interest and two offered him spots to play.
He moved to Concord University in the mountains of West Virginia and suited up.
“I went to a camp there and loved it—and loved the coaching staff at Concord,” Franklin said.
However, things didn’t work out well on the gridiron, though they did with the Mountain Lions.
Concord University is nearly 150 years old. It built on a history that included training military pilots during World War II to more recently making a name for itself by catering to veterans. Concord earned a rank of #3 among the best 4-year colleges for veterans in 2014.
The Concord University Mountain Lions play in the DII Mountain East Conference, dominated in 2017 by an undefeated season by the Shepherd Rams down the road in Athens. Franklin wants to help the Mountain Lions compete—but now, not in uniform.
Franklin admits he wasn’t able to perform on the field on the level he desired. It was frustrating, but he knew he need a break from football to think about his future. He stepped aside for a momeent.
That’s when Max Lilly, Assistant Defensive Backs Coach, pulled him aside and suggested a place in the equipment room.
“Max had a lot of responsibilities and he need help,” Franklin said.
He knows that success starts in the equipment room and that’s where you’ll find him in 2018—and beyond.
“Franklin has become an integral part of the program,” Max wrote Helmet Tracker. “I can trust him to get the job done and do it in a professional manner.”
Future Equipment Manager
“I just love what I do and I hope the Equipment Management field grows as I grow in the field,” he said. “It’s an amazing job, especially for those who want to be a part of sports.”
Max concurs, writing that Franklin’s trustworthiness and reliability have allowed the staff to expand his responsibilities.
“Franklin’s enthusiasm and creativity was very important for us through the recruiting period. He kept bringing in fresh ideas and wanting to do more and more. Franklin’s enthusiasm is great to have around the building.”
Franklin has plans–for himself and a career in equipment managing, and for the Concord equipment staff. Concord needs a strong equipment room staff, and he aims to build a strong foundation.
“I’m hoping to start a student manager program,” he said.
Max sees a future for his young equipment manager—hopefully at Concord: “Franklin is an important guy to our program and we would love to keep him for as long as he chooses to do so!”
Seeds Planted Early
Franklin admits that his interest in football focused for years primarily on playing, but there was a growing fascination with equipment—even as a kid.
“I’ve always been enamored with uniforms—I thought they were awesome when I was younger, but I didn’t know you could build a career around them,” Franklin admits. “I was looking for different jobs in sports and watching videos and came across some K-State video where the guys took you around the equipment room showing the helmets, facemasks, and packing the travel trunks in preparation for a road game.”
Soon, he found himself talking with Max Lilly and taking the beginning steps of his career.
AEMA Certification Exam
Franklin plans to join several dozen others at June’s AEMA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona to take the Certification Exam. The Athletic Equipment Manager’s Association certification is required by many universities and preferred by nearly all others. The test is offered a few times per year and the pass rate hovers around 60 to 70 percent. It’s not an easy exam, says AEMA National Office Manager Sam Trusner.
Franklin looks to Max and to Tennessee State Equipment Manager Eddie Hardin for direction. Eddie won Helmet Tracker’s 2017 Scholarship. “Eddie is an inspiration to me,” Franklin said.
As he prepares, Franklin keeps the equipment rooms at Concord running smoothly, and works towards his degree in recreation and tourism management with an emphasis in sports management. He likes being behind the scenes.
“As a former lineman, I am used to being behind the scenes. The line doesn’t get the attention, but is important to success. It’s the same with being an equipment manager—I like it,” he said. “I think it would be awesome to do this full time. I get complete enjoyment when I am in the equipment room and helping to make sure the guys are prepared.”
Max can see it.
“Franklin does does a phenomenal job managing his time and getting our multiple projects done at an incredible pace,” he wrote. “He does the dirty work when needed and he continues to make us better each day that he is there.”
Success starts in the equipment room. When the players and coaches don’t have to think about all things working properly because the equipment staff has taken care of it, they can focus on what happens on the field.
For Franklin, a long career in one place is his goal. He’d like to stay in the area—West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina.
“I love what I do. I can’t wait to make this a career.”