Harley Warren’s card says he is the Assistant Athletic Equipment Manager at Southern Mississippi, but he serves as a Golden Eagles ambassador wherever he goes.
Helmet Bowl I
Harley sent Helmet Tracker an updated Golden Eagle helmet design at least a half dozen times during the 2017 inaugural Helmet Bowl I season. He led the team and others to vote Southern Mississippi to an early lead in the Conference USA championship.
“This is the perfect year for us. It is the first year in six years we’ve changed our helmets a bunch. The fans love seeing the different looks, and we get the votes!” he told us in November.
The Golden Eagles were poised to make a deep run in the National Championship bracket and didn’t disappoint. They demolished the Southern Connecticut Owls in the first round, then handily dismissed the Southeastern Savage Storm. For the South Region championship, they faced a Kennesaw State Owl helmet that suddenly had a powerful following and lost just two steps away from the championship. Harley says that won’t happen again.
“I loved the National Championship bracket,” he said. “We’ll be even more active for the next one!”
Equipment Manager – Dream Job
Harley long admits his admiration for the Golden Eagles program and calls working there his dream job. His first job, being a teacher, wasn’t suited for him and he quickly altered his route and found success.
He got his start in the equipment room when a coach discovered a young desire in Harley and his twin brother Michael to walk the sidelines, call the plays. He suggested the duo start in the equipment room.
They both enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coach Community College and began learning the ropes of the Equipment Manager. Michael now teaches in a nearby middle school and coaches football, soccer, and track.
Harley, meanwhile, transferred to Southern Miss and began to build his career.
“My Dad was always a football fan, and we grew up going to Southern Miss games all the time. He was a big Brett Farve fan.”
He worked as a student equipment manager and earned a degree in sports coaching/education with a history minor. “It didn’t take me long to figure out I didn’t want to teach.”
After an internship with the New Orleans Voodoo in the Arena League, then with the NFL Saints, he was offered a graduate assistant spot at Southern Miss and took it.
“Then I got hired full time. I was finally getting paid!” Harley said. “I like all of the behind the scene stuff – getting everything ready, working with uniform designs – I like all that.”
A little less than a year ago, Harley and his wife welcomed their first child into the family, a daughter.
“I suppose that’s my hobby now—being at home, being a dad.”
When not at home, he enjoys being in the equipment room and serving as an Equipment Manager. Someday, he says, he may end up in coaching, but even if that happens, working in the equipment room gives him special insight and knowledge.
“Even in high school, the coaches need to be knowledgeable about this stuff, and my work here would allow me to bring something else to the table other guys may not.”
Equipment Manager Certification
Harley knows that the Athletic Equipment Management Association certification is important for his career and plans to take the exam in June at the AEMA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.
He has the support of his family—both at home and at work.
“Harley has worked for us as a student starting in 2011 and progressed through a GA and now the Assistant, he has always demonstrated a love for equipment managing,” writes Patrick Stewart, the Golden Eagles’ Assistant Athletic Director of Equipment Operations. “He has good relations with coaches, and staff and completes his projects in a timely manner.”
Stewart is in his 24th year at Southern Mississippi.
“I feel like Harley will be a good candidate to continue in this position for a very long time with his even temper and laid back way of everyday life.”
Harley now joins the candidates for Helmet Tracker’s AEMA Scholarship. The scholarship reimburses the winning candidate the exam and exam book fee.
Many colleges and universities require AEMA certification for Equipment Managers, others prefer it. Some foot the bill for the exam, and others leave that to the individual.
Last year, Michael Dryer at the University of Nevada won the scholarship. However, Damien Garnett, Assistant Athletic Director of Equipment at Nevada, asked Helmet Tracker to pass it on as the Wolfpack had paid for Michael’s exam. We did, and Eddie Hardin, now the Assistant to the Director of Equipment Operations at Tennessee State University, received the reimbursement.
“I am grateful,” Eddie told us at the time. “It means a lot going from an intern to my first real job—having bills to pay!”
Harley will take the exam at the Athletic Equipment Managers Association convention in Phoenix.