It is no secret that Valpo has a highly successful basketball program as its athletes and coaches are widely known for their skills and talents. There are several individuals in the program, however, whose skills and contributions are less obviously on display, but are still crucial to its success. These individuals are the women’s and men’s basketball team managers.
This year, junior Sam Back is operating as the head manager for the men’s basketball team. This is his third year on the managerial staff. According to Back, being a manager is time-consuming, but also very rewarding.
“It’s a lot of stuff that no one sees that you don’t even think of,” said Back.
Managers have a wide variety of jobs and responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that the team is operating successfully.
Taylor Tyndall, a senior serving as a manager for the women’s basketball team, explained that a manager’s main role is to be a helper.
“Setting up games [and practices], doing anything the coach asks of me and helping them out any way I can, helping the athletic trainer, [and] helping the players out with rebounding [during practice] are a few of her responsibilities,” said Tyndall.
In addition to their work in the gym, managers have other responsibilities behind the scenes.
“Cutting [film footage] is another thing we do,” Back said. “There are two kinds of cuts: our cut and a scout cut… For every team we play, we cut five games so it puts into perspective how much cutting we do for team film.”
The head manager traditionally travels with the team. Due to COVID-19, however, several new restrictions have been put in place to ensure safety between the staff and the players. While the pandemic has not altered the managers’ role in the team dynamic, it has added a few more hoops to jump through regarding public safety.
“If we’re at practice, the coaches and managers all have to wear masks,” Tyndall said.
In addition to masks, temperature checks are also mandatory.
“We have to check in every day [for practice] and we have to make sure every player checks in with this machine that takes your temperature and your symptoms. We have to make sure [everyone] gets this little name tag with the date and time. And then after [practice], we have to sanitize each basketball. We have to sanitize everything,” Back said.
Both Tyndall and Back recalled several favorite memories that they have had from their time with their respective teams.
“One of my favorite [memories] is our home game against Loyola,” Tyndall said. “It had a crazy ending - we were down by ten with like a minute or two to go and then we had a comeback and we ended up winning. Every time we win we go and ring the Victory Bell, so that’s always super fun.”
“I have more memories of people I’ve met,” Back said. “Our trip to Canada last year, I’ll remember that forever. That was a really good bonding experience with the team. I’ve never seen a team bond so well before.”
Both managers are looking forward to the future and are hopeful for the eventual return of regular sports seasons.
“I’m most excited about getting back into basketball,” Tyndall said. “I want to be a basketball coach in college one day, so this is just a little taste of hopefully what my future becomes.”