This past Saturday, there was a bit of a scare in the men's basketball program. At around 10:22 AM Central Time, myself, walk-on Andris Kehris, and strength coach Curtis Turner boarded an elevator on the second floor of The Hotel at Auburn University. As the elevator was attempting to close, Kevin Bright stuck his arm in the door but the door did not open fully, it only paused before shutting again. We pressed the button to go down but the elevator didn't move. We tried going up, but nothing. Occasionally, when someone called the elevator on the second floor the door would open a bit and we would see more members of the team heading to breakfast before eventually everyone had gone down without us.
We ultimately used the elevator phone to call the front desk and someone came to fix the elevator, but not before 20 minutes of captivity. During those 20 minutes, I really wasn't afraid of being stuck, I'd been stuck before and I had great company in Coach T and Andris, my biggest fear was our status, or lack thereof in the organizational hierarchy. The three of us exist somewhere towards the bottom of the hierarchy because we could all be pretty easily replaced and the team will still function fine without us and I will explain why that is so. It't not like the team was missing it's starting point guard or head coach, it was missing a senior manager, walk-on, and strength coach
I'll start off with Coach T. Curtis was the least expendable member of the travelling party. He actual had a valuable function to perform that day: stretch the team before the game, but before then his role was limited. He wondered aloud how long it would take for anyone to notice he was missing. While Coach T was needed for the game, we could have brought in a temp strength coach that night or had the players lead their own stretching. It would have been tough to survive without Coach T motivating the team during stretching, but again not an absolutely essential loss.
Some members of the team (i.e. Nate Watkins) would have been fine if Andris stayed stuck in the elevator, but I was glad he was with me. Andris is incredibly confrontational, he sees a debate or argument in almost every statement made by someone else. He and Nate often get into arguments as Andris spews pro-Latvian propaganda while Nate retorts with conservatism, Southern Pride, and a dash of American exceptionalism. Andris has said, "Nate still believes the Confederacy won the Civil War despite historical fact disputing such non-sense." I find the debates highly entertaining, but Nate was probably relieved Andris was stuck in the elevator while Andris was relieved he didn't have to hear Nate talk about the South being the center of the Earth.
In addition to his confrontational nature, Andris is expendable because he is the 14th man on a 15 man roster (he's not 15th because Eric McClellan is ineligible this year). Andris is our scout team center, but he really only stands at 6'6" or so, so he's not really a center. Andris claims he was a great wing scorer at the Rec Center prior to joining the team, so clearly his skills are not being maximized as the scout team center. Due to his lack of size as a five-man, and the coaching staff's reluctance to unleash him on the perimeter, Andris is probably the least likely walk on to appear in a close game, making him the player least needed on gameday.
I'll finish off with myself, I am easily the most expendable member of the program at this point and it is not even close. I have about a week and a half left with the program, so I'm essentially dead weight at this point. I still go through the motions of productivity, but consider this like senioritis for managers. I've worked hard for three and a half years and put myself in a good position to get a job going forward so I'm just kind of coasting to the finish. The once great appeal of doing team laundry has faded with time, while the desire to just chill and do whatever the hell I want has increased. Though the desire to do what I want has always been strong, I'm pretty independent and don't really do things the same way a lot of others do them. Really, I'm just saving whatever gas I have left in my managerial tank for this blog and senior night.
Without me, the team easily could have found someone else to get stats during timeouts at the game that night. Unlike the mop, my role on the road is not highly skilled or hard to learn. I go to the scorer's table, pick up four stat sheets, and hand them out. It's not that difficult. While my current value was low, my future value was nil because I'm not returning for a fifth year as a manager. I easily could have been left behind and while the team would lose a valuable source of entertainment, they'd be fine, and I would get to go on a Spring Break cruise after being released from the elevator. I was quite expendable in that elevator and really questioned if there was some deeper meaning behind my captivity.
Ultimately we all returned to the team and took on our traditional roles with the program. They didn't throw a party upon our arrival at team breakfast, though there were croissants there and those were a really nice touch. Haven't had a good croissant in awhile, so I was glad they thought to include those in the meal. Next time, I'm stuck in an elevator though, I'm taking Kedren with me.