Photo of Brad Oster

Brad Oster '97: Equipping for the Future

By Angela Grossmann-Roewe '98

Brad Oster '97 is no newcomer to McKendree University. He has literally grown up on the Lebanon, Ill., campus, and continues to do so while giving back to those students who share two of his lifelong loves – sports and education.

Brad received an undergraduate degree from McKendree in education with a minor in coaching. He met his wife, Kristen (Olds) Oster '97 while they were both students, but his story doesn’t end there. After graduation, he joined the staff as an athletic equipment manager and baseball coach, and ten years later he completed his master’s degree in education.

Today, his passions for education and sports have intertwined at the University. Not only does he continuously influence its athletes, but also recently, he was instrumental in the formation of McKendree’s newest major – Sports Management/Athletic Equipment Management, the first of its kind in the United States. He also instructs Athletic Equipment Management courses in the newly created major.

Brad loved all sports as a youngster, even playing baseball at a junior college before transferring to McKendree. “I have always loved the competition,” he said, “and sports is a great teacher about life…how to be humble, how to work as a team, how to be dependable, how to deal with adversity, etc. I especially love having the opportunity to help shape a young person’s life. I love athletes that come back and thank me for all I’ve done for them.”

Athletic Equipment Management is an ever-growing profession, but still very much unknown to those outside of athletics, Brad said. “The thought by many is that I am the laundry guy,” he said. “After I started instructing the equipment class as a special topics course, students began asking about majoring in this field, and I thought I could develop a niche that no one else in the country had developed yet. It is amazing to say that I was a part of a team that helped put Athletic Equipment Management on the academic map, not only at McKendree, but hopefully, throughout the country.”

Brad became a certified equipment manager with the Athletic Equipment Manager’s Association in 1999. He serves on its Exam Committee, and Certification Steering Committee as the chairman of the Education Committee. He gives presentations at the national convention on athletic equipment safety; serves as the editor of the AEMA National Journal; and is the editor of the newest Athletic Equipment Management Certification Manual.

“Through my association with AEMA, McKendree often field tests new safety products,” he said. “It makes our athletes feel special when they have the opportunity to try out a new product that no one else in the country has seen or heard of yet. I am waiting now to view a prototype of a shoulder pad design that I helped develop. It is self-gratifying to know that I am not only impacting the equipment industry, but also having a role, no matter how small, in protecting athletes across the country, and perhaps, the world.”