Javonn Askins is a So Cal athlete who has played sports for 24 of his 28 years. Along the way, he battled knee injuries, suffered through four surgeries–but now wants to make sports his career.
“When I was 19, I started coaching when I was recovering from one of my surgeries,” he said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise, but I knew I wanted to stay around sports.”
Another injury and another assignment with the team brought him to the role of equipment management. “I was helping coach freshmen basketball and the varsity team coach asked me to help take care of the equipment. At the time I wasn’t aware people made careers out of being an equipment manager.”
After yet another athletic injury at a community college and working various jobs, Javonn began to look for ways to get back involved in football. He had played basketball, baseball, and football at Norte Vista High School – the home of the Braves. The only way back in, for the time being, was through volunteering. So, he volunteered.
And volunteered some more.
For nearly seven years he volunteered as an equipment manager and coached at local high schools. Now, he works with Notre Dame High School in Riverside, California.
A year ago, the University of Redlands responded to his quest and in 2015 he was offered an internship with Darren Damewood, the equipment manager there at the time. Damewood was a technical advisor for football equipment for the show Friday Night Lights.
“I was immediately impressed with his desire and drive to become an equipment manager, despite so many obstacles,” Darren recalls. “He wanted to try everything, and since I was basically a one-man-show for all sports (how a lot of D3 schools are if they have a manager at all), it was needed.”
Darren began to teach Javonn the tasks of the job, but was soon taking calls and texts from him at all hours asking questions about details. Javonn wanted to get it right, get everything right, so Darren began to talk with him about becoming a certified Equipment Manager.
“Darren told me about the AEMA, so I went to the convention last year and began networking,” Javonn said. And, as he worked at Redlands, he learned more and more about being an equipment manager. “I loved it! I loved being behind the scenes and working with the coaches. I’ve just fell in love with it and most importantly I was around sports.”
Darren describes Javonn with words such as “inspiring,”, “insightful,” and “mature.”
“I think he would be amazing for both the student-athlete, but also the coaching staffs.”
Talking to Javonn, it’s evident that this is the right career path. “It brings me so much joy – being an equipment manager and volunteering at the high school. I learn about things, get to be around sports and being around people – coaches, players, and alumni.”
And, the surgeries, and the waiting, and the volunteering and more waiting have not been the only barriers he has overcome. Javonn is 40-percent deaf in one ear and the handicap has made learning difficult. He is married with two small children and is taking a non-traditional route to become a certified equipment manager by spending over a thousand hours volunteering.
Javonn plans to take the Athletic Equipment Manager Association certification test 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.
“My route is a little different, but won’t stop me from getting to where I want to go. I am patiently waiting for opportunities, waiting for the blessings,” he said. “I love sports, I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”