Sleep, basketball, class and then more basketball.
That is what life as a student manager is like. It is a difficult job, but a worthwhile one for people with hoops in their blood. Adam Satz can attest to this.
During his senior year at Seton Hall, Satz was honored by UPS as the 2011 Manager of the Year. He currently works as the Pirates’ assistant director of athletics com- munications.
“If I wasn’t in class, I was here,” Satz said. “As a manager, your job is to not get noticed. It’s kind of like when you’re a referee or an umpire. If people are talking about you, it usually means you did something wrong.”
There seems to be a certain stereotype about managers – that they’re just water boys, ball boys and the guys who mop up sweat.
That’s true. Partially.
As junior manager Anthony Madle explains, the job is much deeper than outsiders seem to believe.
“Yeah, we do the dirty work. But there’s none of that ‘Go car- ry my shoes’ stigma. We’re friends with the players. They really do respect us, and the coaches do, too. They appreciate what we do.”
Madle and the eight other managers typically arrive at the gym around 7:30 a.m. to prepare the floor, the balls, the uniforms and anything else asked of them. Those tasks are nothing to these guys.
If you assumed laundry is arduous, too, you are wrong.
“When we were on the road and in hotels, we’re doing it there,” Satz said. “We’re hauling seven bags of laundry to different hotels if our own didn’t have what we needed. Some of my best memories are just roaming around in cities trying to find a place to do our laundry.”
One duty in particular is extremely tough, though.
“Stop the f****** clock!”
Head coach Kevin Willard has been known to shout at the crew when the time-keeping is off, per Satz. After getting spared from the clock his freshman year, sophomore Tom Kiely knows this all too well.
“It’s pretty serious. Each drill, or section, has a different amount of time coach wants to spend on it. We’ll get a [printed] plan, but things happen and he’ll spend more time on this and less on that. It’s confusing to keep it how he wants. If you put 15 minutes up and he wants 10, he’ll start screaming.”
Madle admitted that this was terrifying at first. Now? It doesn’t faze him.
“If we mess up, he’ll let us know,” he said of Willard. “But he’s cool after. He handles it right with us.”
Satz said that like players, managers are expected to show up at the practice gym ready to work.
When the clock is not wrong, the managers feel they can pal around with Willard.
“The more you show up, and the more he sees you, the more comfortable he is with you,” Madle said. “He has nicknames for all of us.”
Junior Mark Maloney Jr. has about 10 monikers. “Too many to count,” he chuckled. Madle goes by “Spicoli,” a nod to Sean Penn’s long-locked blonde character in
Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In addition to Willard and the coaching staff, managers have a unique lens when it comes to the players, too.
“It’s weird when people walk around talking about the players like they’re famous,” Kiely said. “It’s just like, ‘That’s the guy who lives next door to me,’ or ‘I just beat this kid one on one.’”
For Maloney, that closeness to the program is what he cherishes most about the job.
“You watch all these teams on TV when you’re younger or in high school, and then you come in to be a manager and you get to experience what’s it like. It’s al- most surreal.”
To take that experience a step further, Madle feels a special sense of pride through the team’s per- formance.
“You’re with the guys as indi- viduals. You see the work they put into it. It’s more gratifying for us when they win than the normal student. A big thing I enjoy, and we’ve all talked about this before, is seeing the development. See- ing a player like [Ismael Sanogo] – how much better he got. And knowing we helped…that’s cool. He’s always bugging us to stay after practice, trying to get extra shots.”
Rebounding for players is com- mon, even outside of normal practice hours. Junior manager Jared Gaspar said that while walking around campus, his phone is always buzzing with texts asking for extra shots.
“And if we’re around, we go. That’s a part of it.”
All four managers pointed to freshman forward Veer Singh as the biggest gym rat. And the biggest pest.
“One more?” Singh always asks them. That singular shot often turns into double-digits.
When they’re not rebounding, the managers could actually be playing dummy defense in prac- tice.
When SHU’s starting five took the floor against the managers at Seton Hall Media Day on Oct. 29, it looked like the Monstars against the Looney Tunes. But there was no laughing, no joking around. The whistle was blown, and the managers shuffled in the paint as the Pirates whipped the ball around on the perimeter. It was a simple shell passing drill, but still felt peculiar to watch.
“Nobody is telling you ‘I don’t want Isaiah Whitehead to score,’” Satz said. “You’re not asked to shut him down. That’s not your goal. But there is an expectation that you have an understanding of the drill, where you need to be and when you need to be there.”
Elite players want a certain level of resistance. They don’t want their defenders laying down. They want to get better.
Sometimes, that doesn’t go well for managers.
“I’m missing one of my teeth because they threw me out there one day,” Satz said.
As a manager, “you’re treated like a Division I athlete,” Maloney said.
Maloney, Madle, Kiely or Gaspar have never lost a tooth, but all four of them understand that the job calls for sacrifices. Managers are unpaid, but they do have the opportunity to earn scholarships.
There is no application process to join – it’s all about reaching out and being proactive. Similarly, there is no clear-cut path to earning a scholarship.
“It’s understood that if you put the work in, you’ll earn it,” Maloney said.
Players are, however, given meal money on breaks, as well as free food on the road. “That’s the best part,” Kiely said, which made his three fellow managers laugh in agreement. Managers miss few classes, but are excused when traveling on the road.
Kiely wants to get into coaching himself. Over the summer, he and Madle worked as counselors at a youth camp for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Madle wants to apply his coaching and managing experience to a community relations job, preferably with an NBA team. Maloney is striving to break into the business side of sports. Gaspar wants to work with finances.
There are different paths to take, for sure. But setting up ball racks, cleaning floors, rebounding “one more” for Singh, doing laundry, getting yelled at over the clock – it will all be helpful in the end, Satz believes.
“For someone who would never have had the opportunity to experience athletics at a Division I level, it’s life-changing. It really is. I wouldn’t be here in this seat if I didn’t get that opportunity. I’m very grateful for that.”
Tom Duffy can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TJDHoops.