SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — WHEN YOU NOTICE THE MISSOURI STATE MANAGERS, YOU PROBABLY SEE THEM MOVING CHAIRS, HANDING OUT TOWELS OR WIPING DOWN FLOORS.
BUT THAT’S JUST A SMALL PIECE OF A VERY BIG TEAM ROLE.
HC Dana Ford: “They are really unsung heroes. I mean they are awesome kids, number one. Awesome students. Probably the hardest working guys that we have. They get no credit, which they deserve a lot.”
THESE GUYS DO IT ALL: RUNNING DRILLS AT PRACTICE, SCOUTING OPPONENTS, AND OCCASIONALLY PICKING UP HEAD COACH DANA FORD’S JACKET MID-GAME.
Sr. Manager Jordan Scott: “Usually when he throws it I’ll get up, alright here it comes. He’ll take off his jacket and wide up and I’ll just be like alright.”
SPEAKING OF FORD, A CHANGE IN COACHING STAFF HITS MORE THAN JUST THE PLAYERS.
FOR MANAGERS, IT MEANS LEARNING A WHOLE NEW SYSTEM ALONG WITH A WHOLE NEW PERSONALITY.
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “You can see it when he stands right there. He’s got a hundred different personalities right there.”
Sr. Manager Jordan Scott: “He’ll sit there and he’ll yell in practice (NATS) and then he’ll look over at us and he’ll wink at us.”
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “That’s the thing, he’ll be yelling or he’ll even be yelling at you and then like two seconds later he’ll turn back and wink at you.”
FORD EVEN ADDED A NEW TASK FOR THE MANAGERS, KEEPING AN EYE ON THE BENCH.
Sr. Manager Jordan Scott: “Coach Ford is big about how our bench looks. At one point instead of filming the game, he filmed our bench.”
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “Yeah, we do that still. We set our camera just to film the bench. I know that man watches probably a lot of film. I would not be surprised if that man watched literally a whole film of just our bench throughout a game.”
BUT FORD’S NOT ALONE WHEN IT COMES TO BEING A NEW FACE.
WITH SEVEN TRANSFERS ON THE ROSTER, THE TEAM HAS ADDED SOME BIG PERSONALITIES, BUT THE MANAGERS SAY ONE TAKES THE CAKE
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “I love this guy to death, but Tulio Da Silva. I love him to death, my man, but he’s a handful.”
AND WHAT DO THESE GUYS GET FOR MANAGING ALL THAT PERSONALITY?
NOTHING BUT THE EXPERIENCE.
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “I wouldn’t want to do anything else. Technically, if you think about it, we don’t get paid for what we do. But we love doing it.”
BUT CONSIDERING THESE GUYS ARE AIMING FOR JOBS AS COACHES OR ATHLETICS MANAGERS, THE KNOWLEDGE GAINED IS INVALUABLE.
Grad. Manager Devin Diaz: “I just think seeing the work and the time and everything you have to put into. It just takes a lot. I didn’t really know that coming in. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s like okay. This is what it’s going to take.”
PLUS THE GUYS HAVE MADE MULTIPLE TRIPS TO THE FINAL FOUR, THE MANAGERS TEAM FINAL FOUR THAT IS.
HC Dana Ford: “They’re actually pretty good players. When we kept losing these bodies, I was thinking about putting a couple of them out there and getting them through the eligibility center.”
SINCE THEY KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT THAT FAR, THEY THINK THIS BEARS TEAM HAS A SHOT AT SIMILIAR SUCCESS.
Soph. Manager Jarrett Paoni: “They just kind of all bought in to each other and what the coaching staff was preaching. Especially now, I believe they think they can beat anybody.”
WITH A TOP-FOUR SEED IN THE VALLEY LOCKED UP, THEY MAY JUST BE RIGHT.