GameDay: Student managers share a bond with the team that extends far beyond the hardwood
Every day, Chris Mueller and Patrick Scully wake up and attend their morning classes before heading to Matthew Knight Arena around noon to set up for practice. Since becoming student managers, Mueller and Scully, along with two other managers, have carried the responsibilities of making sure the Oregon men’s basketball team runs as smoothly as possible. For Mueller and Scully, this usually means 9-12 hour workdays.
“We have to have our classes done by noon every day,” Scully said, “so we get in here around 11:30-12 in the afternoon. Practice is usually scheduled at 1 and we do everything from setting out gear the night before to getting the coolers ready. We’re here from 11:30-12 to 6:30 and that’s just practice days. As far as games, we’re here from 9-12 hours a day, so it’s definitely a lot of work.”
Being a student manager doesn’t have a clear definition. There are the obvious duties like rebounding for the team, keeping the players hydrated and helping out at practice. But student managers are really there to make sure the team has what they need when they need it. Many students apply for this position in universities across the country in hopes of becoming a coach or staying involved with sports in some capacity. For Mueller and Scully, this job extends further than their basic job description.
“It’s ridiculous,” forward Mike Moser said of the efforts of the student managers. “It’s everything. Whether it’s during a game when we need something or really all throughout the day, they’re here probably an hour or two before we get here and stay an hour or two after we leave. Even on the road, in the middle of the night, when you really need something, they’re up at two in the morning to help you out.” @@name checked@@
The commitment of being a student manager can only be described as a full-time job. In addition to taking full course loads, student managers like Mueller and Scully are constantly on call in case the players or coaches are in need of assistance. This dedication toward the team stems from the everlasting love and passion for sports shared by both Mueller and Scully.
“When people ask about the workload, I say I wouldn’t be here every day if I didn’t love it,” Mueller said. “It is a job where it’s almost better if you’re not being asked for stuff because that means everything is good to go. That’s kind of our recognition.”
Both Mueller and Scully played sports in high school. Mueller, a business major with a focus in sports marketing, grew up in Portland, Ore. where he played baseball, basketball and football. Scully, who is studying education, reigns from Long Beach, Calif. where he stuck mainly with basketball.
But as the majority of high school athletes do, Mueller and Scully realized at different points that they would eventually have to end their athletic careers from a competitive standpoint. Both now have aspirations of becoming coaches and are using this opportunity to open future doors.
“I kind of wanted to get started with this job because I’m very interested in coaching and I thought this would be a great way to stick with basketball,” Scully said. “I didn’t really have a whole lot of interest playing at the next level, so I thought this was a great way to stick with it.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a student manager is the personal relationships that are built during the process. In the countless hours that Mueller and Scully have interacted with the team, they have naturally gotten to know the players on a personal level. From late night shooting sessions with the players to grabbing lunch after practice, Mueller and Scully have deepened their ties with players they now consider friends.
“The relationships and friendships that we make with the players definitely makes it a lot easier for us,” Scully said. “I always tell people, they’re great basketball players, but they’re even better people off the court, so it’s definitely a cool thing to be a part of.”
Following a recent Christmas gift exchange that the student managers hold every year, student manager Drew Abel began a tradition that will surely continue for years to come. All Oregon athletes have customized backpacks with their respective numbers on the side. As a way to include the student managers, Abel decided to create super hero patches in place of their initials. Naturally, this has caught on in the locker room. Johnathan Loyd (Flash), Nick Lucenti (Superman) and Mike Moser (Thor) were the first players to get involved. @@four names checked@@
“We all got together and you kind of earn your superhero patch,” Moser said. “Everybody has their own patch. I just earned my Thor patch after the Washington State game, so we just have the cool kind of camaraderie.”
Student managers like Mueller and Scully aren’t looking for recognition. Often their goal is to not be noticed and, according to them, it’s more about personalizing the experience and helping the team. And while the coaches and players do exhibit their appreciation, it is certain players like Loyd who go above and beyond to make sure student managers get praised.
“I don’t think (the student managers) get enough recognition or appreciation. That’s why every chance I get, I try to thank them and tell I appreciate what they do,” Loyd said. “Not everybody takes that same aim and it sucks when someone doesn’t respect them. I get low key mad when I see it.”
Though they will never don the green and yellow here at Oregon or make the stat sheet, Mueller and Scully’s importance to the team is unheralded.
“They’re a huge part of the team,” Moser said. “We hit them up in the middle of the night when we want to work out. They’re always down to come rebound for us, whatever it is, they’re really on the team. It’s really like best friends out here.”
As Mueller and Scully both continue their experiences at Oregon and eventually move onto their future careers, their jobs as student managers will stand in their own categories. The connections and memories that they have made will extend beyond their four years here at Oregon. It’s proven by the lifelong camaraderie that the program has shown through its graduates.
“At Oregon we have a small crew of managers, so we got to know each other really well,” Karson Kobelin, a former Oregon student manager, said. “I spent more time during college with the managers and team than the guys I lived with. I still talk to the managers from my senior year every day.”
Mueller and Scully plan to use their experience as a stepping stone. Their future paths may be unclear as of now, but their hard work and dedication toward the sport they love is something they can proudly carry with them in whatever avenue they decide to pursue.
“I would help these guys with anything,” Loyd said. “I’d give my recommendation and vouch for them anytime. I’m not sure how common it is, but I still stay in touch with a couple of the managers who left via Twitter and text. I would enjoy having one of these guys with me if I got to the (NBA).”
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim