When you go to see a Division I college team compete, you are most likely there supporting for a few obvious reasons. As a fan, you are certainly excited to watch the players, to see the coaching staff, and the growth of the team overall from game to game. There is a very small percentage of people at that game or match that recognize the student managers for the respected team.
All managers, not just at the Division I level, do so much for the team goes unnoticed. The roles of a team manager are endless, whether it is preseason, in season, or postseason.
A team’s manager has the responsibilities of keeping the team organized. Depending on what sport you manage, responsibilities are different. However, there is a common factor among all different student team managers: they are the first one in the gym setting up for workouts or practice, and they are the last ones to leave.
Imagine, not just being a team manager for a Division I college sports team, but being a team manager and attending the University of Virginia, known to be one of the best academic schools in the country.
Jillian Randolph, a second year at UVA with hopes of getting into the Batten school, is the one and only manager for the women’s volleyball team. However, it is more than just being a manager for her.
“I played volleyball in high school and it was a really big part of my life, then I tore my ACL a couple of times. So I couldn’t play in college.”
Instead of letting her career-ending injury stop her, she picked up her head and figured, “the next best thing was going to be to manage.”
Heren Mekonnen, a third year at UVA majoring in sociology and American studies, is one of eight managers for the women’s basketball team. Unfortunately, she too played the sport at a young age, and similarly to Randolph, injured her both her knees.
However, she says, “I wanted to be involved in collegiate basketball, but didn’t know how.”
It was not until she came upon fliers for becoming a manager when she began to seek more interest in team managing. After speaking to both Randolph and Mekonnen, it is pretty clear that sports have been instilled in them since a young age. With sports comes hard work and dedication, which they show day in and day out by being student managers.
UVA Men’s Basketball manager, Sydney Stokes, a second year at UVA majoring in media studies, explains the life of a manager best.
“We embody the pillar of servant hood and feeling like a part of a team and family.”
Although managers are known to receive tons of gear for the respected sports, it is more than just that with these managers.
“It is more about the skills that you learn and the things you get to do,” says Stokes.
Not only are managers able to keep their team under wraps, but they also gain connections from their sport’s office and get the opportunity to work outside their comfort zone whether it is recruiting or scouting.
As an outsider looking in, there is no doubt that managers go very unnoticed by not only fans, but also players. So, next time you are at a game or match, look out for the team managers. They are usually dressed in formal attire and tending to the every need of our oh so important athletes.
And, if you are an athlete, get to know your team managers—they are your true number one fans.