The equipment team behind the scenes

Emma Tanner, Volunteer Writer

 To some, being part of a sport is much more than making a game-winning touchdown or screaming their team’s name in the stands. To Logan Ellis, it is providing the players with equipment, ensuring practices are running smoothly and so much more. His name may not appear in the post-game highlights, but he is an integral part of the team, leaving his own heart and sweat on the gridiron every week.

Ellis grew up in Fort Payne, Ala., the son of a football coach, and had a deep love of the game since childhood. His whole family loves football. He and his brother played the game and his mother is a big fan. 

Ellis is currently the Head Equipment Manager for UNA’s football team, but is also a student at the university. Though he is in his first season as a graduate assistant, this is his sixth season serving the UNA football team. 

He served one year as a cameraman, then went on to work as a student assistant for the next four. When he wasn’t working with the team, Ellis produced and directed shows in his hometown, but when UNA Athletics reached out to him and offered the job this past July, he eagerly took it.

“It really all comes from wanting to be a part of a team,” Ellis said. “It’s all I’ve ever known since I was a kid. I grew up around the field house; I grew up around the football team.”

For the equipment management team, the day starts anywhere from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and they can stay for up to sixteen hours a day. Ellis said the work is taxing. UNA’s transition to Division I has made the job harder, but Ellis said that it is still a part of the job he enjoys. His days are constantly spent managing the student assistants and ensuring that the team has everything they need to have the best performance possible. His job transcends that of his title.

“I say this for everyone in that office: our job title is not our only job,” Ellis said. 

A typical day for the equipment management team is a busy one. Upon their arrival, they prep the team for morning workouts and provide workout clothes for the players. 

During workouts, Ellis goes to work fixing helmets and shoulder pads, putting things in to wash and getting everything ready for practice. Once practice is in full swing, Ellis is charged with making sure equipment is out and things are running on time. There is a schedule to follow as all of the athletes are students and uphold an academic responsibility as well as an athletic one. 

“The days do fly by. There never is a down spot,” Ellis said. “You’re always up and running doing your job or other tasks.”

Luckily, he doesn’t work alone. Ellis also credits his success to his six student assistants. According to him, they do a lot of the leg work. Their work involves helping the position coaches and making sure practices run as smoothly as possible. He credited all six by name: Andy Jarrell, Jesse Wallace, C.J. Smith, T.J. Crews, Zyshon Conley and Jackson Linville. All of the students, graduate and undergraduate, work together to make equipment management run smoother for the football players.

Ellis still has high hopes for the team. He recalls when UNA made it to the Division II National Championship during his first year and believes that the team can make it to championship level again with the full support of the community and fans. He praises the players and the hard work they put in, despite the challenges that have come with the transition to Division I. 

“I believe that if we keep the support of the community and keep fans coming in, this program will succeed at the Division I level,” Ellis said. “We’ve got good players here, we just have to continue to work and see where it takes us.”

He credits Kyle Conkle, fellow Fort Payne native and the former Game day Operations Director at UNA, for getting him the connections he needed and helping him become involved. The person who helped him get his position, however, was Courtland Hays, then UNA Football graduate assistant and the current Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach at Southwest Mississippi. 

Ellis played the game himself from fourth grade all the way to his eleventh grade year. The only reason he stopped playing was due to multiple concussions, therefore he couldn’t play during his senior year of high school. Luckily, he found other ways to be involved with the team. During his senior year, he worked on radio. Then, upon coming to UNA, he joined the football personnel staff to continue working with the sport he loved. 

“I always knew I would eventually stop playing and move on to do something else, hopefully with football,” Ellis said. “Doing this and being a graduate assistant kind of lets me know things are starting to work out. The fact that I’m still with the football team and still with football, I guess it’s working out now.”

To him, being a part of the game isn’t just playing. So many people are unable to play the sports they love. For Ellis, it was due to head injuries, but it may be a host of different reasons for others. It may be a knee injury or heart problems or even a lack of athletic abilities. Sports are not limited to hitting home runs or sinking a three-pointer. Sports can be commentating or managing equipment or providing physical therapy for players. Teams require all of these to function properly and be successful. 

The people who work behind the scenes have a special kind of passion and vigor for what they do. The work is strenuous, but it is something they love doing nonetheless. Being an equipment manager has no time limit or age restrictions: it is something that someone can do to continue being a part of the sport — whichever sport it may be — for a lifetime. 

Ellis put it into words best when he said, “I never thought I would still be here six years later working with them, but it’s turned out good, because I get really excited about this job every day just because it’s around good people.”