Sports team managers are not student athletes, but they play a role on their teams both for the coaches and overall functionality of the program.
The managers step forward to help Lehigh teams for many reasons. They might be former athletes, people interested in the sport or have family involved with the team.
The wrestling team has two managers — senior Kelsey Lynch and junior Kacie Bogar, both of whom have been involved with the team since their freshman years. Lynch and Bogar grew up around wrestling and were the managers for their high school team as well.
“I just fell in love with the sport,” Lynch said. “Wrestling is one of those sports where if you’re in, you’re in.”
Bogar said being able to manage a wrestling team was actually a criteria when looking at schools for college.
The role as a manager can include office hours, calling schools to obtain recruits’ transcripts, food shopping for away trips, filling the water, organizing clothing, filming practice and games, taking stats, running the clock and scoreboard, playing music, etc.
“We just really enjoy it,” Bogar said. “Even though it’s work and sometimes is long and exhausting, it’s a break from school and academics and stressful things here. We get to watch a sport that we both really enjoy.”
Graduate student MacKenzie Velasquez is a former softball player at Lehigh and currently manages the men’s basketball team.
The team’s graduate assistant, Noel Hightower, knew Velasquez and asked her if she wanted to help out. She accepted the position to fill her extra time.
“I was done with softball, and the difference between an undergraduate student athlete to a regular graduate student is the time that I had on my hands was huge,” Velasquez said.
As a former student athlete, Velasquez understands the athletes and knows what a hectic schedule they have.
“I try to make it easier on them just because I have the time,” Velasquez said. “If I can make a practice easier by getting their practice gear out for them, instead of them having to dig through their stuff, then I can do it.”
When senior Taylor Carroll quit the volleyball team her junior year, she sought out a manager position with the women’s basketball team.
“Having been on a team before, there are certain aspects of being on a team that you miss out on,” Carroll said. “I thought it would be cool to see how another team operates and get that perspective on a team.”
Carroll said her experience could help her in the future, being able to transfer skills to the workplace like working in a team setting and seeing different coaching and leadership styles.
While other managers sought out a team to manage, the men’s lacrosse team came to senior Lilly Shields.
“The head coach is a family friend, and once he found out I’d accepted my offer at Lehigh he asked me if I’d be interested in being the new manager,” Shields said.
Hesitant about the idea at first, Shields decided it would be a good opportunity to stay involved even though she never pursued college lacrosse as a player. Shields’ younger brother, Ralph, is a sophomore midfielder who walked on to the team last spring.
Shields, along with Carroll, said the most difficult part about being a team manager is the time commitment. Missing weekends at school because of an away game or being unable to join school clubs because of practice time are some of the challenges that come with team schedules.
Balancing academics, a team manager role and a busy social life have produced organized and multitasking skills from the managers.
“In a professional sense, I don’t think there is better training in time management than being a manager of a sports team,” Shields said.
In addition to managerial skills, they said the best part about being a team manager across all sports is the relationships that form. Each manager praised their team members and coaches for being welcoming and inclusive to them.
“Some of these guys have been my best friends throughout my college experience, and I’m so thankful for that,” Shields said.