Student managers go beyond their roles to help out basketball team
It’s 6 a.m. Tuesday. As the Southeast’s women’s basketball team warms up on one end of the court junior athletic training student Brooke Valleroy fills the water bottles that are individually marked on the lid for each player. Senior Bryan Doze hands off the basketballs while Corie Williams, alongside three boys and one girl, put on red shirts and begin shooting layups on the opposite end of the court.
Doze and Valleroy act as managers for the women’s team, while Williams is one of the practice players. Each of these students are contributing factors to the success of both Redhawks’ basketball teams.
The men’s basketball team doesn’t utilize practice players, but they do have student managers. Sometimes the managers will step in as practice players, but most of the time it’s either the coaches or teammates acting as the opposing team during drills.
Doze knew a grad assistant in one of his sports management classes who encouraged him to apply for the job. He said his main job as a manager is to keep practice running smoothly and efficiently.
“We basically set up practice,” he said. “We get the basketballs out for the players before practice [and after a drill] and also film during practice and games. If a player falls down, we grab a towel and wipe it up and make sure there’s not a wet spot.”
As a practice player, Williams has the responsibility to act as a particular player from an opposing team the Redhawks will face in the near future.
“It is pretty difficult, because you can’t go off as the actual basketball player you are; you have to play as someone completely different and have their mindset,” Williams said.
Women’s head coach Rekha Patterson said the practice players allow her player to get in more repetitions on both offense and defense, allowing them to concentrate and refine their play on both ends of the court.
In an effort to help find players, the teams post flyers around campus and on social media. One of the assistant coaches in charge of the practice players also will scout pickup games at the Student Recreation Center.
Patterson said the practice players need to be able to do more than simply know how to play basketball.
“Do they understand their role? We need them to do what our opponents do so we can get better and get prepared,” she said. “The most important thing is: Do they take pride in helping out Southeast Missouri State women’s basketball?”
The players themselves find their job to be easier, especially with the practice players. Junior guard Adrianna Murphy said the team gets stronger going against them everyday in practice.
“If we can defend and do what we can and execute our offense against them, we can do that in a game,” she said.
Williams said it’s not enough for the team to simply watch the film of the opposing team. They need to get on the court, see how the team plays compared to them and figure out strategies from there.
Helping out the team has led to friendships being built and overall personal growth. Doze said he now would consider coaching since working alongside Patterson.
“I never really wanted to coach basketball until I started managing this team,” he said.
While the managers are normally at the games with the team, Patterson said she can find the practice players in the stands cheering on their fellow Redhawks.
“They will probably be in the stands calling out the plays because they just gone over them for two days prior to us playing,” Patterson said.
Murphy said she and the rest of the team is very grateful of their help and dedication to the team.
“Just taking time out of their day to come with us and help, we greatly appreciate that,” Murphy said.