What Does a Student Team Manager Do?

How to become a student manager for a sports team

Coach using digital tablet with basketball team during practice in gym
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A student manager for a sports team assists the coach with day-to-day logistics, practices, and travel. These positions are often competitive and can be stepping stones to internships, coaching positions, or work in sports management.

Wondering how to get a position as a student manager on your high school, junior college, or college team? In 2015, Andrew Heinlein was a student manager for the men's basketball team at Santa Rosa Junior College under Coach Craig McMillan. McMillan, a former University of Arizona guard, reached the Final Four in 1988 along with teammates Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert, and future MLB star Kenny Lofton.

Heinlein shared his experiences getting the position of student manager and the responsibilities involved.

How to Get A Student Team Manager Position

Heinlein: Getting my student manager position was quite challenging. I emailed my coach, Craig McMillan. Then we had two phone interviews, which led to the opportunity for an in-person interview.

After I proved myself in the interviews, I was invited to go to practice. Through the first two weeks, I didn’t do anything, and I was strictly there to show my dedication, which is critically important in landing a role with the team.

After finally proving myself in the interviews and practice I was introduced to the team as the student manager. 

What Are the Responsibilities of a Student Manager for a Sports Team?

Heinlein: As a student manager, my most important responsibilities were handling game tapes for our team and for scouting other teams, managing our youth basketball camp, and being involved in practice.

In practice, I was in charge of small tasks such as having the balls ready to go, taking care of the scoreboard, rebounding for players, and even simply having water ready for the players. I was also in charge of more critical aspects in practice as the coaches began to trust me, such as coaching teams in our smaller four-on-four games and also demonstrating how to shoot in our offensive drills.

How to Get More Responsibilities as a Student Team Manager

Heinlein: At the very beginning of the season I was strictly in charge of stats and the scoreboard. Neither the coaches nor the players knew who I was, so I had to start by proving myself and earning their respect.

After beginning to prove myself, I participated more in practice, scouted other teams, and even sat in on coaches' meetings. My role evolved from there, as I got to go with the team to weekend tournaments and even occasionally voice my ideas for possibly improving our team.

These accomplishments did not come easy; I had to be extremely patient, work beyond expectations, and put in long hours simply for the love of the game.

Lessons Learned as a Student Sports Manager

Heinlein: As a student manager, I learned a few very important lessons. The first is that there is no off day. I was often in charge of tasks the coaches didn’t have time to deal with or simply didn’t want to deal with.

It means that you have to be ready at any point – a coach might call you on a Sunday afternoon and give you an assignment that has to be done by Monday. I had times where I had to analyze game tape at 8:30 at night on a Sunday and have it ready for the coaches to easily critique players the next morning at 8:00.

Another important lesson I learned was to work way beyond what people expect of you. The best way to earn the respect of others is to do more than expected and complete every task as soon as you possibly can. 

The Best Part of Being a Student Manager

Heinlein: My favorite part of the position was the competitiveness in practice, learning from some brilliant minds about the game of basketball, and learning the little things that go on behind the scenes of a basketball program.

It was an excellent opportunity to see the business side of the sport. Through this job I was able to see how much effort it took to keep all of the players happy throughout the season. I also appreciated that the coaches got just as fired up as the players did in practice and it was exciting to be a part of that competitive spirit.

I am extremely grateful I was able to get the team manager position.