Getting Your Foot in the Door; Continue Playing or Becoming a Student Manager By Jeffrey Williamson
The road traveled is very rough for guys and gals wanting to become a coach that are not able to play college basketball. For many coaches, not playing college basketball is a huge turnoff, but I have met many coaches who prefer former managers rather than former players due to the fact former mangers do not have the “player” mentality. I have been told by many former players that if they could have obtained a scholarship being a manager they would have accepted that over playing because they felt like they were four years behind and felt lost in the coaching world after their playing career was over. Getting out of the “player mentality” is very tough for former players.
Former players that complete their career do not know what game preparation entails. Showing up to gymnasium several hours before tip to laying out game jerseys / warm-ups, wet mopping / dry mopping floor, setting up camera to record the game, fill water coolers, double checking info and paperwork needed for coaching staff during the game, etc. After the game is an even bigger eye opening experience for former players. Players are used to coaching staff talking to them, showering, and leaving to do whatever they want in most cases, but while players are having fun the mangers are usually stuck doing laundry and staying at the gym until 1:00am.
Being a student manager is one of the toughest jobs in the basketball world. Managers don’t get congratulations, cheers of support, or even a pat on the back. Managers are given a hard time, work long hours for no compensation, and when working under a head coach who isn’t involved, managers are sometimes disrespected by players. At times during my time as a student manager I was publicly disrespected by players and the coaching staff did nothing. When this happened I realized something that has always stuck with me. I tell all young people this statement when they tell me they want to be a coach. “Pay attention to what the head coach does. Learning what not to do and how not to treat people is the most important aspect of coaching you can learn while being a student manger.”
I encourage all potential student-athletes to continue their playing career if at all possible, but if you don’t get that scholarship offer or your career is cut short due to injury then I urge you to become a student manager. To continue being involved with competitive basketball after high school there are two choices, continue playing or become a manager. No decision is wrong by any means, but each world is completely different with different aspects, different expectations, and different routines.
Whatever the choice, make sure to always work hard, keep your mouth shut, and do what you’re told. Head coaches appreciate people who are willing to work hard and don’t expect praise.
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