Football Fall Camp Feature: Equipment Staff
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- They are always visible, yet behind the scenes. The date, July 26, marked not only the first official football practice, but also the first organized team activity of Southern Miss' 2017-18 athletic season. One department worked endlessly to get ready for that day while also gearing up for the other 15 intercollegiate sports that will report on campus over the next couple of weeks.
The equipment staff.
Patrick Stewart enters his 22nd season at Southern Miss, and he has been the head of the staff for more than a decade that goes above and beyond for the football program as the group works tirelessly to get ready for the season much like the school’s coaches and players.
His staff consists of a pair of full-time assistants and a group of hard-working students whose efforts go mostly unnoticed.
"We have 11 student managers from various parts of the country, whether it's Texas, Louisiana or here locally," he said. "Our graduate assistant, Jeremy Tekulve, came here by way of basketball and he's from Ohio. Harley [Warren] just started with us as an assistant with football and some other sports, and Leslie [Bogle] who does men's and women's basketball and volleyball, then myself who oversees everything."
That staff functions to get each team ready for their respective season and entails much more to the profession than simply putting uniforms on to play the game, consisting of a tremendous amount of time.
"We've been here all summer getting stuff ready, like shoulder pads and helmets," Stewart said. "People don't realize that we also work the other sports. We continue getting stuff in for other sports, including men's golf, soccer and volleyball."
A big part of this group’s job is to make sure football practice runs smoothly, especially this time of year which is during the early part of fall camp.
Reid McGee is the most senior member of the undergrad assistants (fifth season), and he was more than willing to share the system they have put into place in order to keep football practices running smoothly.
"Everyone is assigned a position group, and some get more than one of us," he said. "We just coordinate and try to help each other out. In team periods we all get a place where we spot or catch up on the side. Right now we have enough people to where I don't really have a position, but I bounce around with Coach Hopson, and if he needs a group for any individual drill, I'll help him with that."
Warren is in his first season as the full-time assistant equipment manager, having served three previous years on the Southern Miss equipment staff as a student and graduate assistant, after two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. For him, it's about the love of the game.
"It's really that simple," he said. "My degree is in sport coaching, so if not for this, I'd be coaching somewhere."
Warren also has his memories of working 15-16 hours some days as an intern with the New Orleans Saints, but the work deep within the trenches has not fazed him in the slightest, even in the dog-eat-dog world of football camp.
"What happens on the field, stays on the field," he said. "You're gonna get yelled at by a coach at some point, but minutes later they'll be hugging you. Don't take anything personal. It gets intense and fiery, but you just have to roll with it."
Season tickets, flex plans, and group tickets for the 2017 Golden Eagle home season are still available and can be purchased by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Discounts are available for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens, military personnel, and recent Southern Miss graduates. The Golden Eagles open the 2017 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3 p.m. against SEC opponent Kentucky.
Previous Fall Camp Features:
July 31 - Julian Allen, senior tight end
Aug. 1 - Tim Billings, assistant head coach/safeties
Aug. 2 - LaDarius Harris, junior defensive lineman