For many Ops people, the team managers are a vital extension of what they do. Here’s a great profile of several managers from the University of Portland.
Senior Sam Harris and junior Dane Swanson stand off to the side while they watch the University of Portland men’s basketball team start running through its first drills of practice at 9 a.m. Both of them have a basketball in hand, and Swanson carries a towel on his waist. When a basketball goes out of bounds, Harris throws his in, and retrieves the other one. When a drill is over, Swanson steps onto the court with his towel, and wipes off any sweat he sees on the ground to keep the players from slipping. But besides this, the team managers don’t appear to have much to do other than just wait and watch.
Seems easy enough. Except it isn’t. Because Harris and Swanson don’t get to just wander into Chiles and watch the Pilots play. They have to wake up before everyone else to get there before the rest of the team, and make sure that both the players and staff members have what they need to run a smooth practice. They have to come with energy, because at any moment coach Terry Porter could ask them to step in and participate in a drill.
But practices are the easier part of being a team manager. Besides having to attend three-hour practices, managers also work home games, and in some cases, away games. Managing a team at UP takes both time and effort, much more than any other 10-hour per week desk job students can get on campus. But unlike students who work desk jobs, team managers do not get paid.
All work and no pay
Harris and Swanson attend, on average, two practices per week, switching days of the week with the other managers and switching days with someone if necessary. But as the only manager for the women’s basketball team, sophomore Lexi Owens attends every practice.
Like the men’s basketball managers, she arrives at Chiles early. She sets up what the coaches and players will need for the practice, and then sets up what she will need. Owens used to film practices and scrimmages for the team to watch later, but now she’s upgraded to documenting hustle stats, writing down every steal, defensive rebound, charge, etc.
Outside of practice, Owens helps with planning for away games, looking up which hotels they’ll stay at, where the team can meet to watch film, where the team will eat, and more. During games, she’s back at hustle stats, while also keeping track of who plays and for how long.
For any manager traveling with the team, their unpaid position becomes a 24-hour job; one that sometimes means missing Thanksgiving break or part of winter break. While the team isn’t playing, the managers are making sure its uniforms are clean and ready. Men’s basketball managers keep water bottles and snacks for the players in their rooms. They’re also in charge of bringing suitcases filled with equipment. During a road trip to Vegas — his last one with the team — UP alum (‘17) and former men’s basketball team manager Collin Haar left behind one of the five suitcases he was responsible for back on campus. Luckily, the suitcase only held clipboards and stools.
“It was probably the biggest mess-up I ever had, but best timing,” Haar said. “Easily best timing because no one was actually that mad.”
But mistakes are not make-or-break for students who dedicate their time to running a team. Coaches know that the managers are still students who have to balance a class schedule with all the work they do on the sidelines, Harris said.
“It’s busy sometimes,” he said. “I don’t get paid, so it’s like volunteer work. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to go. Especially when you have exams during the week and stuff. But most of the time the coaches understand that.”
Read the entire article at UPBeacon.com.