Terp Equipment Manager Has Role of a Lifetime
An equipment manager for a college football team has to be part tailor, part product supervisor and part moving company magnate. Luckily for the Terps, Drew Hampton has been preparing for the role since childhood.
Hampton leads a team of two assistants and 16 students to keep the Maryland team prepared for the gridiron and the coaches and staff ready for the sidelines. Growing up on Long Island as the son of an equipment manager for the New York Jets, Hampton came to the profession naturally.
“When some kids went to summer camp, we went to training camp with my dad,” he says of his late father, Bill, who was with the Jets for 36 years.
Drew worked for the Jets as well after high school, and in 1996 moved to Jacksonville, spending 15 years as equipment manager of the Jaguars before a coaching change shook up the staff. Hampton went on to work for the NFL and then Western Kentucky before coming to Maryland in March 2016.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Hampton says of getting the locker room in shape day-to-day. “Good equipment managers are the guys who prepare well and don’t get noticed.”
When a new Terp football player walks through Hampton’s door, the first order of business is helmet measurements. With a focus on player safety and concussion prevention, helmet technology is in a “constant evolution,” Hampton says, but he doesn’t like using experimental designs until a lot of data can back up that they are as effective on the field as in the lab. He also has to make sure players know how it feels to have a helmet fit properly, as high schools don’t always have rigorous standards or top-quality gear.
“Anything you see an athlete wear comes out of this room,” Hampton says from his office in the Terp locker room. “The same holds true for what everyone is wearing on the sideline.”
Hampton is quick to give credit to his two assistants, Sam Beyers and Nat Park, and the truck driver, Webb Dulin, for pulling it off every fall Saturday, setting up locker rooms before away games in about two hours and breaking them down even faster after the clock hits triple zero.
“It’s a team effort,” Hampton says. “Without them, it’s not possible.”
And the list of tasks before games is seemingly endless: Is it going to be cold? Then get out the heating benches. Is it an away game? Then coordinate with vans and trucks to move equipment from the tractor-trailer and airport to where it needs to be.
“It’s a well-oiled machine,” Hampton says. “Sometimes it’s controlled madness.”