Unsung Hero: Head Equipment Manager Shows Skills Off The Field
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 00:03
When walking around Boston College’s campus, one can easily identify the student-athletes among the herd. The ubiquitous Under Armour sweatpants and sweatshirts serve as a warm reminder that we are at home, that we are Superfans, and that we matter. Many people probably don’t stop to think about who makes this all possible for these athletes.
BC’s Head Equipment Manager, Kelly Kenny, oversees equipment for every sport besides football and men’s ice hockey. She oversees a whopping 29 sports, including baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, sailing, crew, and many, many more.
"There’s two full-time assistants, and these are two of the students," Kenny said as she pointed out the window of her office where her two co-workers watched a TV showing the BC men’s basketball game against Miami. "We’re all just watching basketball today," she said jokingly.
After hearing the full extent of this team’s responsibilities, there is probably not much time for watching television.
"In a lot of ways, our area, equipment, the training room, and the sports strength and conditioning, we’re kind of a vital part, but we’re behind the scenes."
Since July 2010 when BC signed a six-year deal that made Under Armour the provider for all 31 BC varsity sports uniforms, Kenny has had her work cut out for her.
"It’s a good and a bad thing," Kenny said. "Now that we’re with Under Armour, all of the teams have a lot more money." That means that each student-athlete gets a hoodie and sweatpants, a warm-up suit, and a runner. The "bad" part is the work that goes into helping these teams prioritize their money, by first making sure they buy all of the essential uniform pieces before looking into surplus items.
In addition to working out the logistics of the team budgets and sizes, Kenny is also responsible for placing the orders, purchasing them, keeping in contact with all of the coaches, and staying on top of the day-to-day schedules for these teams.
"It’s just really a lot of communication, with so many teams and with so much going on," Kenny said. In addition to communicating with other teams, Kenny and her assistants must communicate who will be responsible for which sports.
Even more impressive is the amount of time Kenny has dedicated to BC’s athletics program, as she is currently finishing up her 10th year of working here. "I actually came to Boston College as the women’s basketball director of operations. I worked with them for three years, and then just felt like I needed a change." Kenny started as assistant equipment manager, and then moved up the ranks to become the head manager.
As Head Equipment Manager, Kenny gets to see a lot more of the student-athletes and coaches on a daily basis, though she does not know them as intimately. "The drawback to that is that when you’re with basketball and you’re traveling, you really get to know that team really well. I miss that part."
When asked about the hardest part of her job, Kenny mentioned yet another aspect of this management that some may be unfamiliar with: the van organization. BC has a fleet of 15 full-size vans, an expedition, and two mini-vans that come through Kenny’s department. She helps make possible the athletes’ transportation to and from practice.
As one can imagine, Kenny and her assistants could easily be in the office every day of the week and still have unfinished business. Organizing budgets and uniforms for 29 teams at a Division I University is no small feat. Amidst all of this responsibility, however, Kenny insists on the importance of leisure time.
"I believe in having a day off a week. I know some people say ‘oh, I haven’t had a day off in four months.’ I don’t really believe in that. You just need a break." Kenny said in jest, "We do a lot more than your laundry!"
Though this unsung hero may wish to remain behind the scenes, we should thank Kenny for her 10 years of dedicated service to the University and for making possible that "warm reminder" every day as we cross campus.