Written by Julia Fischer for CUWFalcons.com
Have you ever wondered who the people are behind the scenes that make the wheels keep turning?
What about those people that do the little things without ever getting the public recognition they deserve?
Nearly every sports team has an unseen group working within, making sure everything operates without any problems. They help with the smallest of details and do the dirty work because they are team managers.
Concordia Wisconsin's basketball programs have hard-working, no-nonsense team managers doing the little things behind the scenes on a daily basis. Whether they are doing laundry, helping during practice drills by rebounding or passing, cutting game film or running the clock during drills; they make everything run like a well-oiled machine. The job of a team manager is one of little public recognition, but the chance to be a part of the team makes everything worth it.
The Falcons Men's and Women's Basketball programs have committed student workers who put in just as much effort and most times many hours of preparation to have the coaches and student-athletes prepared for practices and games. Team managers John Winter, Max Grieman, Josh Pingel and Anne Gierach greatly enjoy the work they do that nobody notices and seeing what they do helps benefits many parts of the program.
Some of the responsibilities of the team manager include, but not limited to being in charge of practice and game day jerseys and equipment, setting up the gym for practices and home games, doing laundry, cutting game film for scouting purposes and anything else the coaching staff or the players might need.
Each manager came into their positions for different reasons. Winter knew one of the former managers on the team and saw the position as an opportunity to stay with basketball, as he had played the sport in high school and loved it. This season marks Winter's third year managing the men's team.
"I would say the role of the manager is pretty important," Winter expressed. "I don't do it for the recognition. We do a lot behind the scenes that not many people know about. The team and the coaches know how much we do, but to the average person just sees things getting done."
Grieman came to CUW to play basketball but unfortunately fell short during fall training during his freshman year. Instead of letting him go, head coach Shawn Cassidy offered him the position of team manager. Already having friends on the team, Grieman took coach's offer. After a year of preparation in the weight room and on the court by himself, he knew the opportunity of making the team his sophomore year was a possibility; one that eventually came to fruition.
Entering his junior year Grieman accepted an internship outside of school and has returned to his managing duties with the team for his final year as a senior. "The transition back and forth was tough on me at first, but both the coaches made it easy by making me and the other managers feel included with the team," Grieman stated.
Pingel is in his rookie season as a team manager and learning each and every day what it takes to become an integral part of a successful program. He is just one in a long line of team managers during Cassidy's tenure.
For Gierach, being a manager was as close to playing the game as she could get. She played basketball her whole life, but after a career-ending knee injury, she couldn't continue the sport she loved. Gierach played basketball for the women's team her freshman year, but after a sit-down meeting with head coach Stacey Bruner-Jones to inform her of the bad news was immediately offered the position of team manager.
"It's hard knowing I won't be able to play the sport again," Gierach said. "However, I love being a manager because it puts me in the game day atmosphere again and makes me feel like I never left the team."
The Falcons managers are a part of an elite group within the sport they manage. The love of basketball connects them to the coaches, student-athletes and other managers. Team managers take on a very selfless role by making sure everything is prepped and ready when the team needs it, even if it involves doing the dirty work such as laundry. Despite all the intensity to win in this day-and-age, there are times of laughter amongst the managers. Surrounding the men's group of team managers, it isn't uncommon to hear Seinfeld references and jokes like they are going out of style.
"There are a lot of inside jokes between the managers on the team, as well as with the athletic trainers," Winter said laughing. "We all like to joke around and have a good time when it is appropriate, but then get work done when it is needed."
The managers of the teams work very closely with the student-athletes and coaches, creating a family environment within each team. Every family has jokes and jabs at each other, but at the end of the day, it's all fun and games. During practice, while the players run sprints and do drills, the managers get to sit back and encourage their team from the sidelines with harmless banter.
"We definitely joke around and have our fun, but the players are really good at making me feel a part of the team even though I'm now a manager instead of a player," Gierach expressed.
The importance of a sports team manager cannot be underestimated. Without their dedication and effort they put into the team, practices and game days wouldn't run as smoothly and the coaches would have even more responsibilities on their plates.
"Having seen the team from both a player and manager perspective, I can see how our work makes a difference," Grieman said. "The coaches have their practice and game day plans to worry about, and the players have to be getting their mind and body prepared for practices and games, so the work we put in helps makes all of that possible."
The coaches and players know what a difference the managers make and appreciate their hard work.
"Our student managers do everything to make my job easier and keep the basketball program running," Cassidy commented. "Everyone can see them positively leading the team on the bench during the games, but it's the countless number of hours of work they do behind the scenes that truly makes them special. I can't even begin to express how much I appreciate them."
While Gierach is the only manager for the Women's Basketball program, her efforts haven't gone unnoticed. "Anne is a huge part of our team and she does so many things for us, often before we ask her to," Brunner-Jones said. "Her knowledge of basketball is extremely helpful to being a great manager. Anne makes our day-to-day operations run efficently and keeps us organized."