Dirk Stevenson owns and operates a wood refurbishing business in West Milford, N.J. He also is the equipment manager for the West Milford (N.J.) Midget Football Association.
He approaches both jobs the same way – with careful planning and attention to detail.
Stevenson said that taking inventory is the most efficient way to stay organized as an equipment manager. Even if you know that the previous equipment manager took inventory before you, it's always safer to count everything again for your own records.
When players return items at the end of the season, Stevenson throws out any items that are damaged, worn out or unsafe for players to use. He takes a break for a few months and then inventory begins in March. He counts every single item that was returned. He uses a spreadsheet to keep track of each item, including sizes.
“Go in there and mark what you threw out, so you know how much you need to order. Hand count every single item,” Stevenson said. “If the size markings washed off during the previous season, re-mark them.”
After taking inventory, Stevenson orders new equipment to replace the worn out items.
“Try to go a little shy of what you think the registration numbers will be rather than over-ordering,” Stevenson said. “Especially in this economy, it is important to stay within your league budget.
“Treat it like a business. You have to shop around for the best prices.”
Stevenson noted that once league registration is complete, he can order any additional equipment needed and have it delivered within a week.
March also is when Stevenson schedules Riddell to collect the league’s helmets, which he has reconditioned and certified every year. A Riddell representative takes the helmets to the plant, where Riddell completely refurbishes and recertifies them.
Riddell ensures that all helmets brought into the plant meet the standards determined by the National Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
“You want to make sure your players are put in a product to meet the standards. You want to make sure your players have the maximum protection afforded to them,” said George Maczuga, the director of sales and marketing support at Riddell and a member of USA Football’s Football and Wellness Committee.
Reconditioning shoulder pads annually also is important for equipment managers to consider, Maczuga said. After months of use, shoulder pads are dirty from sweat, mud and rain.
“With the fear of staph infections and MRSA, I think every player should get a clean pair of shoulder pads to start the year, just as they should have a reconditioned helmet,” Maczuga said.
Maczuga also recommends that programs have experts from their equipment suppliers come on site to fit the players with the correct sized equipment – whether the equipment is new or not.
“We really feel that’s important. You want the player to have the right helmet and shoulder pads, or they won’t afford him the proper protection he deserves,” Maczuga said.
In addition to organizing and maintaining quality equipment for his league, communicating effectively with league executives and teams make for a much easier job, Stevenson said.
"Each of the six teams in our league is scheduled to pick up its equipment at a different time, it's efficient and it works great,” he said.