Student managers help teams behind the sidelines

Holden Foreman, sports writer

The Kirkwood Call recognizes student athletes on a weekly basis for their outstanding accomplishments on the playing field. On the sidelines, however, a completely different game is played, and without student managers coaches say they would be in a world of pain.

“It’s nice as a coach to have someone that I know I can rely on,” Craig Dickinson, head wrestling coach, said. “I want to focus on the coaching aspect, so it’s hard for me to write things down and at the same time give useful tips to someone competing.”

Many of KHS’s athletic teams have a manager in some form, but their responsibilities and incentives vary.  However, a common reason is involvement in athletics, and some are willing to do whatever possible to achieve it.

“I just started doing little things,” Nikolas Shengelia, senior, and boys’ swim team manager, said. “I wouldn’t say there’s much managing going on but that’s what coach calls it.”

Shengelia was offered the role of manager by head coach Matt Beasley after tearing both labrums, a shoulder tissue, while swimming over the summer. Although he is not swimming anytime soon, Shengelia attends all meets and practices. He stays busy filling water bottles, keeping times, creating the team t-shirt and doing whatever else Beasley needs.

“[My teammates] still think of me as a swimmer,” Shengelia said. “I don’t think anyone else really sees me as part of the team though because everyone else is in a Speedo.”

Claire Hubert, senior, came to be the softball team manager under different circumstances.  Hubert played softball from fourth to 11th grade, but after preseason workouts this year, she decided something needed to change.

“For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for four AP classes, take a leadership role in a bunch of clubs and be editor-in-chief of the yearbook,” Hubert said. “I was way in over my head.”

Varsity head coach Amy Leatherberry asked Hubert to become the team manager at home games. Hubert contributes by working the scoreboard, making announcements, setting up pre-game music playlists and even organizing sweatshirts and secret santa gifts for the team.

“There’s just two different sides to [softball],” Hubert said. “I  really like working the scoreboard because it forces me to stay focused, and when I was a player I was always the one who would shout the count and how many outs there were.”

Taylor Welch, senior and manager for the wrestling team, said the social aspect had a major influence on her decision to keep score for the team last year.  However, Welch said she developed greater interest in the sport itself over time.

“I just like to make new friends, and that’s probably the best part,” Welch said. “I didn’t know anything about [wrestling], but I thought it was a pretty cool sport afterward.”

Regardless of their differences, Shengelia, Hubert and Welch found ways to stay involved in sports without actually competing, and there are some things that regular players cannot do.

“On a team everybody has a role,” Dickinson said.  “The team is successful if everybody does their part, so the manager is a very important part.”