Life as a Basketball Manager

Author: Liam Franz

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From the moment I watched "Rudy" as a little kid, I fell in love with Notre Dame and aspired to be just like Mr. Ruettiger. In a similar fashion to Mr. Ruettiger, I dreamt of attending the University of Notre Dame and being a crucial member of a National Championship-winning football team. However, as I grew older, I realized that it wasn't Notre Dame Football calling to me, but the basketball team. I grew up watching Coach Brey have great success with Irish basketball legends such as Luke Harangody, Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant, Bonzie Colson, and Matt Farrell. I knew that one day I wanted to be a part of that amazing program. 

Fast forward to the present day, and I am living out my dream as a manager for the men's basketball team. Being a manager has allowed me to meet some incredible people, follow my passion for Notre Dame hoops, and be involved with an athletic program here on campus. With that being said, working in athletics has not been easy, but I have loved every second of it. As someone who has spent countless hours in the gym, I want to tell my story of what it is like to work in athletics on campus!

During the fall of my freshman year, I reached out to a current manager to extend my interest in being a part of the manager program. After learning more about the program, I found out they only hired two managers per grade, so I grew very nervous about my chances. After a few weeks passed, tryouts were underway, and then the next thing I knew, I was selected to become a manager! At that time, I was very excited about this opportunity but unsure of what to expect going into this role. Little did I know that becoming a manager would be the biggest blessing in my life as I was about to meet some lifelong friends while fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine, just like Rudy.

I am frequently asked, "What do you do as a manager?" I usually have difficulty answering that question because the tasks vary so much. Life as a manager is constantly changing, which is the beauty of the job. One day could be completely different from the next day; however, there are quite a few things that remain the same on a daily basis. From September until March, we have skill workouts, team practices, and games nearly every day of the week. These three events require different responsibilities, so with that being said, I will walk through each day.

Individual workouts are really fun to work as you get to see how talented these guys are. My role during those workouts is simple: rebound or pass to the players. I enjoy individual workouts because you get to things like JR Konieczny's insane dunk package, or Cormac and Dane making shooting threes look as easy as shooting layups. As someone who played high school basketball, it is crazy to see the difference in talent between these players and a typical high school basketball player. Each and every player is extremely talented and this talent has definitely been earned through all their hours in the gym. 

Official practices require a lot more out of the managers. We arrive an hour before practice to complete the following tasks: fill water bottles, pass out practice jerseys/loops, retrieve needed equipment, rebound for the players as they warm up, and any other miscellaneous task that needs to be done before practice begins. During practice, we are responsible for running the clock, filming practice, wiping up sweat when a player falls, rebounding during shooting drills, and then other occasional tasks that are needed. Depending on the day, practice can be anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours, so it can be hard to balance with academics from time to time, but it just requires good time management. As you can tell, being a manager requires a lot of time in the gym, which can make life stressful from time to time. However, working in athletics has definitely taught me very good time management skills as I balance my academics and role with the team. As you can imagine, there are times when I have a big exam coming up or a school related function and need to miss a practice, which is not an issue because academics are the main priority for the team and the managers.

Now the real fun happens in Purcell Pavillon on game day! Gamedays are long, jam-packed days. Depending on the tip-off time, we have a shootaround a few hours before the game, which requires the same tasks as practice. Following the shootaround is a team meal, which is always delicious. Then after the team meal is when the real work starts. The managers pass out the jerseys and game loops, set up the visitor's locker room and referee’s locker room, fill up home and visitor's water carts, provide towels to both teams, make sure the team has everything needed for the game, rebound for the players as they warm up, and then any other miscellaneous task that needs to be done. Once tip-off hits, it's game time for the managers too. The main focus from a fan is usually on the players, but remember us managers who hustle out there to wipe up sweat or with timeout chairs to give the players some rest. Even though I spend numerous hours at the facility on gameday, I love every second of it.

As you become an upperclassman, you get the opportunity to travel to the away games with the team as well! I have been very fortunate to be able to make two road trips so far as a sophomore, and it is such an incredible experience. It's so cool to be able to travel to a new school, play in a different arena, and upset the home crowd as the Irish bring home a win! 

Now that we have covered the tasks of a manager, it's important to highlight the benefits of this amazing opportunity. The number one benefit of all this hard work for the basketball team is getting to be able to be friends with Father Pete! Is there anything that can top that? I don’t think so, but we do have some other benefits as well. In addition to spending a lot of great time with Father Pete, I have also made life-long friendships with the other managers. The manager team is a very tight-knit group of the greatest people! I could go on and on about how great each manager is, but this blog would be way too long! Our manager team is blessed with delicious team meals, awesome travel experiences, lifelong friendships, and some cool ND basketball gear. Now, this position has some great benefits, but as I mentioned earlier, the greatest benefit of being a manager is the people you are surrounded by. From Coach Brey, to the players, to Father Pete, and to my other managers, every individual within the organization is so caring, thoughtful, and respectful, which creates a great environment to be a part of!

Just like Rudy, I dreamt of being a part of an athletic program at the University of Notre Dame, and here I am living out my dream! Like anything within sports, it is a big time commitment and a lot of hard work, but I genuinely love every second of it. To anyone reading this and interested in working in sports, my best advice is to DO IT! Follow your dreams, do what you're passionate about, and never take "no" for an answer. All the hard work and dedication is worth it! GO IRISH!!!