MEET THE MANAGERS
(CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR REGULAR GUEST JULIE SULLIVAN TAKES A TURN IN THE DAILY ARTICLE ROTATION TODAY WITH A LOOK AT THE MANAGERS FOR LOUISVILLE WBB. WE THINK YOU'LL ENJOY THIS WRITE UP!)
Adrienne Johnson, Executive Director of Player Relations at UofL, who is tasked with the responsibility of choosing and supervising the student managers will tell you that a practice can't go smoothly without the managers working tirelessly in the background getting things done.
"They really set the tone for the environment before practice, before games, prepping the floor, making sure it is clean, towels available, water. When things go smoothly, you'd never know they were there."
This year the women's basketball team has five managers. A.J. gives them the responsibility to organize themselves. They each have specific tasks they gravitate to but are all responsible for every aspect of preparation and clean up. The one task that everyone mentions being responsible for is that old household favorite. Laundry. I need to try and sneak some of mine into their rotation. Apparently, they are very good at it and do so much of it that they may not notice a little extra UofL swag.
Associate Head Coach Stephanie Norman appreciates their dedication:
"They stay ahead of the game. They get everything ready for practice so we don't have any worries. We can just coach basketball. We don't have to handle any logistics with this important group."
So -- what's in it for the managers? Why would they give up so much of their social life, nights, weekends and school breaks? While they don't get any financial benefits, some do get to travel with the team, but the biggest payoff is the experience and contacts. Most are looking to make a career in the sports world, whether it be coaching, front office, media or support. What they are learning is invaluable. A.J. encourages the managers to seek out each of the coaches, learn from them, help with video and learn how to do "cutouts" for social media. It pays off. Last year's senior manager Jimmy Yu is now the Video Coordinator and Associate Director of Operations at Wake Forest.
MEET THE MANAGERS
Keigan Fetz, a native of Jeffersonville, IN has been with the team since his freshman year at UofL. Now a senior majoring in History, he never paid much attention to women's basketball in high school. You could think it might be an odd match. But, he played ball in high school and wants to coach on some level in the future. He thought it sounded like a good opportunity, this managing possibility. He says, four years later:
"I watch more women's hoops now than men's hoops."
As a senior, he is helping the new managers learn the ropes.
"When you have a young man like Keigan on board, he anticipates the needs already. I'll go down and say 'We need' and Keigan is like ' Already done.' We need to get that set up'...and Keigan says 'Already got it'."
During the practices I visited, "Keig" was quietly on the sidelines, observing and studying the plays and the coaches. It was obvious he was a student of the game. If something was needed he was there before a coach could even call out.
Brenda Hackett, a junior from Louisville Central high school, played basketball for the Yellow Jackets and wanted to stay involved with basketball, so she joined as a manager her freshman year at UofL. While they all share in all duties, her main task during practice is to run the clock, keeping everything on schedule. She is studying Sports Administration with a minor in Communications.
Brenda has big aspirations and wants to be a head coach in a college men's program. She feels her personality would fit well in a men's program. She wants to be a barrier breaker like her father, Wilbur Hackett, Jr. who helped integrate the UK football team and was the first African-American team captain in SEC history. With inspiration like that and the work ethic she is learning at UofL, I wouldn't bet against her.
T.J. Durr, a sophomore from Atlanta, GA., is beginning his second year with the team. T.J. played both football and basketball but decided that his future off the playing surfaces. He chose Louisville because of the Sports Administration Program and liked the school and the city because " it's not too small." If his name sounds familiar it's because his sister is no other than Asia Durr, who lit up Ohio State on Sunday. She inspired him to get involved with the team. As someone that is inspired to become a coach or an administrator, probably at the high school level, he appreciates being around great people and knowing what they are doing, so he can learn from them. T.J likes that he can often travel with the team. During practices, he stealthily moves water bottles as the activity from one part of the floor to the other so the team and action doesn't miss a beat.
Zach Rohling from Crescent Springs, KY is a freshman. He grew up a UK fan but saw the light and joined the ranks of the Cardinal faithful while serving as a manager for his high school boys team. He is currently undecided on a major (as many freshmen are) he is leaning toward business. He also hopes to get into coaching, probably on a high school level. He joined the managers because the experience will help prepare him for that. The day I visited, Zach's main responsibility was taping practice, but he, like every other manager, mentioned laundry as another of his major tasks.
Nick Newman is a sophomore and was only on his second day as a manager when I visited. Nick, a native of Oldham County, attended South Oldham high school and was brought on because of his video experience. He is a Sports Administration major and thinks this experience will give him a leg up in the business. Being so new, he was doing more observation of the flow of things than participating. Nick has been a lifelong Cards fan and is confident he'll like being a part of the managers.
The team behind the team. The ones that work daily with the process. They are held to standards, responsibilities and learn...just like the players we love on the court. Work hard, student managers...your success mirrors the squads. Do well.
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