By Morris Glimcher
The student manager does not get a lot of glory, receives little recognition and is often taken for granted. This individual, however, can play an integral role in the success of the team.
It is up to the coach to decide what role the student manager will play and how he or she will be perceived by others. The days of the big kid coming out to be the manager, and being treated shabbily by coaches and players alike are gone. The manager can be a very valuable asset, and the coach must ensure that the manager is indeed an important part of the administrative unit, and fellow coaches and athletes treat the manager with respect.
A manager can utilize technology that will be of great benefit to the coach and teammates alike. The manager, depending on skills and qualifications, can create or maintain a Web site, can work on statistical programs, and create databases that would include eligibility information, emergency contacts, roster information, schedules, student timetables, as well as maintain forms, media information, etc. In today’s technology, the managers can even text results out on a real time basis.
The head coach should lead by example and show that the manager does indeed play a pivotal role. The coach should create expectations and specific duties and job descriptions for the student manager, and state the outcomes expected. In addition to the technological aspects, the manager can also have up-to-date stats available for the coach; can videotape games; can assist in practice organization, such as ensuring all balls, jerseys and related equipment are available; and physically assist in practices and game warm-ups.
The student manager can also work with the student government and the community at large by helping to organize the team to go to elementary schools for reading events or other community initiatives. The team can be part of the community by participating in fundraising ventures or community service projects.
On road trips, the manager can organize rooms, transportation schedules, uniforms, equipment (always make sure there are extra shoelaces available), arrange meal times, etc.
For a team to get the maximum benefit of the manager’s enthusiasm and abilities, the manager has to be treated with respect and be made part of the team, part of the tradition.
There are many reasons that a student might become a manager. He or she may have been cut from the team, may aspire to be a coach or manager in college or in the pro ranks, or just might love the game and want to be a part of it. The student may be looking to make new friends.
A Personal Reflection
In my own case, my best friend made the basketball team and I approached the coach about being manager. I was fortunate enough to be selected, and while the coach gave me basic guidelines, he let me "run my own show." I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friendships. Yes, there were some players who showed disrespect; however, there were many more who certainly appreciated what I did, and the coach made sure that everyone knew that I was an equal member of the team.
Upon graduation, my coach was able to put in a word at the university and I became manager for the university team. After graduation, our senior men’s (AAU) team won a number of Canadian Championships and we are now part of the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. We still get together on a regular basis and laugh about our trips, our games and our pasts. I never felt like I was just the “manager.” I felt like I was part of the team and played a role. I know that the players felt that way as well. Being a high school manager provided me a start in sports administration and guided me in the right direction.
Coaches should select an individual who is willing to commit to the team; however, the coach has to be willing to commit to the student as well. The coach should ensure that the student manager’s experience with the school will be a great one. While the manager is always the unheralded position, it can be a very, very important position to the success of the team.
About the Author: Morris Glimcher has been the executive director of the Manitoba (Canada) High Schools Athletic Association for more than 30 years. He received an NFHS Citation in 2003 and has been a member of the NFHS Citizenship Committee. Glimcher sponsors an annual $500 scholarship for a student manager.