Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Wallflowers

Last Thursday, I was at Tin Roof, a bar in Nashville, with another manager Rob Cross. We were at the bar when Rob turned to me and said, "Bro, we have no status on this campus". I thought about his quote and realized he is completely right. Vanderbilt is a very status oriented school with a distinct social hierarchy that has frat guys at the top, athletes right below them, and then everyone else in varying degrees of social irrelevance. That is just how it goes, but I feel like we managers are in a particularly precarious position but also within the broader structure of the team.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we spend a ton of time around the team during the season. Whenever they are in the gym for a team event, we are there with them. We are constantly around the guys and based on that we have established great relationships with them. Since we spend so much time around them during the year, you often lose touch with other friends because your schedules are just so different so we hang out with the players in social settings. I would say 80 percent of the time I go out on a given night, it is with members of the team, and the same can be said for our other managers.

This has its positives and its negatives. On the one hand, as basketball players, the guys know a lot of girls and they will come out with us or hang out with us at the bars, but this is also not that beneficial to us. The girls are coming to hang out with guys on the team, they may not all be groupies (but some are), but all of them want to talk to and hang out with the players, not the managers. We are close to the action, but we aren't the action when it comes to social settings. We are kind of social afterthoughts for those who hang around the team because they see us as the water boys essentially. At some schools like Kentucky, being a manager is considered a sign of status, but at Vandy nobody really cares except the actual Basketball Wives.

The Basketball Wives are the collection of girlfriends that date members of the team. They are actually huge fans of the managers. They know we help the guys out and put the time into the program, and since the guys respect us, they do too. I know Cheyna and Morgan, who are dating Kevin and AJ respectively, have personally told me they are big fans of mine (thanks y'all), but we do have to sacrifice a lot socially as a manager.

For instance, many girls who talk to any of us will frequently ask what frat we are in, and only Rob is in a frat and he is barely involved. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked "what frat are you in?" only to respond "I'm not in one, I work for the basketball team" and a girl has looked at me like 'why would you do that?' Being a manager isn't the cool thing to do on campus, it just isn't. And I'm not just talking about girls, with guys also. There are certain sports junkies on campus who think what managers do is awesome and befriending guys like John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor is sick, but they tell me all the time that they could never do what I do. They just don't have the time, determination, and willpower to go through with it for a whole season because it really is a lot of stuff we do.

First off, most people don't really know all that we do and secondly we just don't have the time to be involved in that many social activities outside of basketball. Basketball is our social activity and we pour our heart and soul into the program and put the time in, but we are the least recognized members of the program by outsiders.

Without this blog, many of you reading this would have no idea who I was. I didn't create this blog because I wanted people to know my name, but because I wanted them to get an idea of what we as managers do and what it is like being around a college basketball team on a daily basis. It is a unique experience, and many of you probably don't have an idea what goes on inside the walls of Memorial outside of the two hours twice a week when we have a game there. However, it is cool to be recognized for a job where recognition is not in the job description, so maybe this post will serve as a means of elevating the appreciation of the Next-Gen of Vanderbilt managers and that would be incredibly rewarding for me to see.

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