DURHAM, N.C. – It’s only been a couple of months since Allison Fanning made her way to Durham as Duke’s newest assistant equipment operations manager and in that time she’s already made an impact overseeing the Blue Devils’ two East Campus programs of softball and field hockey.
Fanning joined the Duke athletics family in July of 2018 after graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 with a degree in history. During her time as an undergrad Fanning working as a student equipment manager for the Oklahoma softball program, which captured two Women’s College World Series National Championships in her four years.
GoDuke.com sat down with Fanning to talk about how her first couple of months in Durham have been, her time at Oklahoma and more.
How have the first couple months in Durham been so far?
Allison Fanning: “It’s been good. I really like it here and I love the university. Both field hockey and softball, it’s a family feel and that’s what brought me here. It reminds me a lot of what I had been a part of in the past. It’s been a lot of learning and adjusting, but overall it’s been good.”
As an assistant equipment operations manager, what are your top responsibilities?
AF: “Making sure the athletes have the gear they needed every day, whether it’s practice or a game. Also, making sure the laundry is clean, that gear fits and they are comfortable and ready to play. Some days I’m out on the field helping the coaches, too. I also take care of all of our Nike ordering and getting any type of equipment we may need for game or practice.”
What are some of the bigger differences coming from Oklahoma to Duke?
AF: “At Oklahoma, I was a student manager so it’s a lot different here in the sense that I’m doing a lot more of the ordering and the money handling. At OU I had a lot of different roles as a student. I did video, equipment, essentially whatever I was asked to do. Yes, I was the equipment manager, but I was the really manager for the team outside of the bullpen catchers. It’s been nice to bring that experience here, too. I enjoy helping at practice, whether it be from an equipment standpoint or wherever needed.”
Growing up as a softball fan, what was it like to see Duke create a softball program and now to be a part of it?
AF: “That was one thing that really drew me here. I loved working at Oklahoma. I grew up an OU fan. Getting to work for coach [Patty] Gasso was one of the highlights of my career. To go from that historic program to one that is just starting and working towards becoming that is really cool. It’s also cool to see the differences and what their philosophy is and what they are building here. And just the fact that Duke added a softball program is amazing in itself. Softball is growing so much through the country and I feel like every school should have one. It gives people opportunities to continue playing, to go to school and to have jobs like I do. I think Duke adding it was a big step, especially with the size of the school. It’s not an Oklahoma or a Florida State or anything like that. It was a big leap for them to do it and I think it’s pretty cool that they did.”
What are your goals for your first year at Duke and what is the one impact you want to leave on your players?
AF: “I just want to make things as smooth as possible on my end. I don’t want the players to worry about if something fits or if they have the right thing, whether we’re at home or on the road. The easier you make it on them, the easier their day is and the better they are going to play. They should not have to be worrying about anything, whether it’s ‘Did I pack this uniform?’ or anything like that. I want to make the process easy for them and I want that to reflect on the field in that they feel good with what they’re wearing. The biggest deal for me is I love different looks. I love the uniform matchups and I would like to build upon that. And not just help build the softball brand here at Duke, but build the Duke brand overall. I want to help make it somewhere that people see and say ‘I want to go there because look at all this cool stuff they are getting and how much fun they are having.’ You’re drawn to what you see and then it grows from there.”
You worked with Duke assistant coach Lacey Waldrop when she was at Oklahoma before coming here. How big was that relationship in getting you to Durham?
AF: “When I was getting close to graduating, I started looking for jobs and I knew I wanted to stay in athletics, whether it be equipment or branching out into something else. I saw this job was available and I was surprised. I reached out to Lacey and got the ball rolling. That was definitely a huge factor. I loved working with Lacey at OU. She helped me tremendously and we got really close. Then when I came out here, she was still playing with the Chicago Bandits, so I met coach [Marissa] Young and Laura [Valentino] and I felt like I hit it off with them. This is a great program and I am really happy to be a part of it.”
Favorite Softball Memory?
AF: “Winning the National Championship with Oklahoma and going to the White House to meet the President.”
AF: “Being from Oklahoma and being an Oklahoma fan, I’d have to say my favorite athlete is Jason White, who was a quarterback at OU.”
What is the best place you’ve eaten in Durham so far?
AF: “I’ll have to credit [Duke Softball Assistant of Operations] Casey Price Fogg on this one because she’s taken me to a lot of different places so far. Best place I have eaten at so far is Kurama.”
What is the coolest trip you have ever taken?
AF: “I got the opportunity to work with USA Softball this summer and we went to Japan for a week to play a three-game series against the Japan National Team. That was a place I never thought I would go. It was awesome to experience the culture and getting the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country.”
What is one place that you really want to visit?
AF: “I definitely want to go to Greece.”
If you had a walk-up song, what would it be?
AF: “In high school, my walk-up song was ‘Bring Em Out’ (by T.I.) so I’d have to stick with that one.”
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