Ken Hart is stepping down from his position as the Spiders’ athletic equipment manager after 34 years of service.
Hart, 61, first arrived on University of Richmond’s campus in 1981 when the Spiders offered him the position -- he had previously worked for Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Since then, he has been a staple in the athletic program. He has seen the ups and downs of the Spiders’ sports programs, from the losing seasons to the 2008 national-champion football team.
When one enters the first floor of the Robin Center, they will immediately face a room filled with cleats, training shoes and safety equipment. On the walls there are posters of Richmond’s basketball and football teams dating back to the 1980s. There is a collection of Spider players who made it to the professional level. Hart has made this space his home.
He said he felt this was the perfect opportunity for him to transition to a new part of his life. “At this stage of my life, since I’m turning 62, I want to be able to do some things that I haven’t been able to do,” Hart said.
Hart handles the equipment for all 17 Richmond varsity teams. He admits that most of his time is spent on the football team because its equipment needs the most attention. He is the first person most of the players meet when they enter the school for their first training camp. By the end of players’ careers, most have developed a strong, personal relationship with Hart, and that is something he will miss the most.
“Meeting student-athletes and getting to know them over the years is the best part of my job,” Hart said. “I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them when they leave.”
The athletic department staff has mixed emotions about Hart’s departure. “We are sad to lose someone with his knowledge, talent and character, but we are happy for him to be starting the next chapter of his life,” Abby Houser, assistant athletic director, said.
Hart will spend the spring semester helping his replacement adjust to his or her new role. His last day will be in June, because the university’s policy entitles employees to work their last two weeks on the payroll, Hart said.
“We have started a national search for a new athletics equipment manager,” Houser said. Hart said a new employee would be hired in January.
Contact reporter Justin Williamson at email@example.com
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