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Unsung heroes

Published April 01. 2011 05:00PM

They are the unsung heroes.

The individuals who go out of their way to support and help their scholastic sports team, but often tend to get loss in the shuffle behind the scenes.

Team managers can be just as valuable members of their high school programs as the players and the coaches.

As a past high school manager myself, every single one of my past varsity coaches made me feel that way too.

Now, as a sports reporter for the last 11 years, I continue to see high school students carrying on that same job I so loved to do when I was involved in football, basketball and baseball at Palmerton Area High School in the early 1990s.

Just like "Coach" made it apparent to me, I recently asked a few current spring sport coaches about the luxuries of having dependable managers to lend a helping hand.

"Without their hard work behind the scenes taking care of the little things during practices, before and after games, etc., the coaches and team members would have more to do and more concerns other than games," Marian baseball coach Jeff Nietz said. "They are invaluable. Without them, it gives added responsibilities to the coaches and players.

"Players need to focus and concentrate on the game at hand and not be distracted by little things. Coaches need to worry about the game, their players, their opponents. The things that managers do allow us to to do just that coach. They are definitely full members of our team. What ever letters, plaques and even post season awards the team receives - the managers and stat keepers get them as well."

With the job being totally voluntarily, and the hours just as long and demanding as the players put in, team managers have huge responsibilities.

The Pleasant Valley girls' soccer team managers are extremely important to Bears' head coach Tim Hinton.

"Managers help me get my paperwork ready, set up drills, and assist with anything that may come up at practice and stuff always comes up," Hinton said. "They are extra eyes, ears, and hands that can also relay some important information at times whether it is about your own team or others.

"Game days they make sure we have our equipment ready and handle the lineup and rosters needed for other coaches, refs, and announcers for that game."

Hinton appreciates the fact that his team managers take time after school to help lighten the load for him and his coaching staff.

"It is extremenly helpful as it saves the coaches a lot of time and energy so that they can focus on game planning and the players," Hinton said. "Also, they take care of what is needed for the team.

"Overall, having good managers that care about what is best for the team is the epitomy of a team player. They put the interests of the team first to make it the best team possible."

Jim Thorpe boys' tennis coach Norb Lienhard considers his team managers almost like part of his coaching staff.

"The biggest thing for me is that they are like another coach on the court helping me feed the balls to the team when we break into groups," Lienhard said. "During matches, the managers make sure they get the line up and keep track of all the scores. They also take notes on the matches so we know what to work on at practice. Without the managers, my job would be much more difficult."

Some coaches just like Northern Lehigh softball coach Brian Schell however like the idea of their players carrying on some of the responsibilities managers fulfill each day for the team.

He has student managers who handle the scorebook, handle the pitching charts and runs the scoreboard at home games. He said sometimes he is forced to rely on just one manager because of room on the bus for away games as the Bulldogs softball team travels to away games with the baseball players.

All in all though, Schell has good reasoning for having his players handle some duties themselves.

"I believe that the equipment that we as a team use for games and practices should be carried by the people who use them the players," Schell said. "We have no prima donnas, even seniors and captains carry equipment. At the beginning of the season players choose the equipment they want to carry seniors first.

"I believe that this teaches the players responsibility and prepares them for life after high school where they will not be waited on hand and foot."

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