Joel Douglas

Joel Douglas
Photo by Russ Houston

A promise senior Joel Douglas made to his father this summer left him with some unfinished business at Mississippi State.

The sixth of eight children, Douglas already has attained the highest education level among his siblings. Only two even completed high school, he said.

Douglas said one of the last requests his father made of him before dying in June of congestive heart failure was to “Finish.”

“It was important to him that I get a degree,” the business administration major continued. “It’s been tough since he passed away, but I’ll get through it.”

Though an unconventional one, Douglas’ path to higher education developed through athletics. According to the Wesson native, he wasn’t very good at football and was told as much in the seventh grade by his coach. Though blunt in his assessment, the coach also offered Douglas a job as team manager.

As it turned out, Douglas has parlayed the opportunity into a possible career. After graduating from high school in Utah, he returned to Wesson as equipment manager for the hometown Copiah-Lincoln Community College football team. That job provided both a full scholarship and numerous opportunities to make a good impression on head coach Glenn Davis, former MSU running backs coach.

When Douglas transferred from Co-Lin in 2013, Davis helped him land a position with Phil Silva, the MSU athletic department’s longtime equipment manager.

During the 2014 football season, Douglas was responsible for equipment used by quarterbacks, while also serving as the sideline ball retriever on game days. This year, he’s managing equipment for the linebackers, where day-to-day duties include assembling equipment and setting up the field for practices, communicating with the coaches and repairing equipment, as needed.

Douglas clearly enjoys his work, dubbing himself “the oil of the engine.”

He added: “I love getting to see my contribution, even though it is behind the scenes.”

Following graduation, Douglas wants to seek a collegiate football graduate assistantship. As for a career, he’s interested in either becoming a full-time athletic equipment manager—or going in a very different direction to own a restaurant or retail shop.

Whichever direction his life progresses, Douglas always will carry the memory of his father and the loving advice to “Finish.”