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The Antelope

Loper equipment more than gear to manager Tanner Drews

Drews has been the head equipment manager since 2017. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff 

When it comes to being the equipment manager for a college athletic department, there is much more to it than just handing athletes their jerseys.

Granted, UNK equipment manager Tanner Drews admits he makes his job harder than he needs to. 

“I am my own worst enemy,” Drews said. “I’ve got so many irons in the fire in this place, because I know no one will do it the way I want it, so I just do it myself.”

The Thedford native and University of Oklahoma alum has been UNK’s equipment manager since August 2017. He is in charge of outfitting and supplying equipment to all 15 Loper athletic teams, or about 500 student-athletes.

Drews discovered his love for being on the equipment staff at Oklahoma. He spent four years working on the Oklahoma equipment staff as a student, where he worked primarily with the football and track teams. He was a part of the Oklahoma football squads that made multiple College Football Playoff appearances and was even a part of a Sugar Bowl win in his final year.

“I was in the equipment room more than I was in the classroom,” Drews said.

While an undergraduate at Oklahoma, Drews also had an internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Getting a hands-on and behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be an equipment manager at the highest level. 

He graduated from Oklahoma and turned down a graduate assistant spot to try and get a job right out of college. Drews got a list of contact information from his supervisors at Oklahoma for all the equipment managers in the NFL, and started sending emails. 

He got two NFL job offers from Cleveland and Dallas, and was going through the interviewing process when he learned a terrible truth.

“They started telling me what it paid, and it was exactly zero,” Drews said. 

He would go back home and live with his parents for three months, searching for a job where he could get back into the equipment management field. 

“I was on the Athletic Equipment Managers Association’s website when UNK popped up,” Drews said. “I applied and got a call from Josh Jorgensen and did a phone interview with him and he wanted me to come out.” 

Drews made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to tour UNK’s athletic facilities, making note of the differences between Division I and Division II.

“They called one day and offered me the job with what they would pay,” Drews said. “They lowballed me so hard, I still shake Josh Jorgensen’s hand and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe you got that dummy to say yes to you back then.’”

Now going into his sixth year at UNK, Drews has a staff of students and a longtime assistant in Phil Martin, who will be leaving the Loper equipment staff in the near future. 

“I work a lot of hours and complain a lot,” Drews said. “But it helps when you have a good staff and I’ve had some really great students the last few years, but I’ve always had Phil. Now that he’s leaving, it’s gonna leave a huge hole.”

Whether it’s getting players and coaches all of the equipment and uniforms they need, or pouring hours into the @Loper_EQ Twitter page to try and bring UNK another Helmet Bowl victory, Tanner Drews will continue to provide for all Loper athletics using his passion for equipment management. 

He does have one request for students though.

“To the students, quit going home on the weekends,” said Drews. “Go to our home athletic events, we need a crowd atmosphere. So if you go to school here, please come to some games.”

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