As the Ithaca College men’s basketball team got off to a 3-1 start, several students worked behind the scenes to make sure the team was performing well.
Student managers have several roles including obtaining equipment, setting up the dashboard, assisting with exercises and filming practices so that the team can review them later. Juniors James Dimeo, Lucas Jafet and freshmen Sara Hunter and Tim Cheeseboro are the team’s four student managers this season. Dimeo has been involved with the team as a student manager since his first year in college and is the only one with experience in this role. As a sports management student, Dimeo is happy to have the opportunity to gain experience in the field he is studying before he graduates from college.
“When I came here in the first year, I wanted to be a manager [for a sports team]”Said Dimeo.” I plan to go far and stay there for the four years, I love it so much. “
Dimeo played high school basketball and wanted a chance to stay in the sport without playing, which was also a reason he decided to join the team. He said he was not sure what path he would take after college, but that a potential option might be to work as a graduate assistant in a Division I program.
As the oldest and most experienced student manager on the team, part of Dimeo’s role is also to mentor the other three managers and be a resource for them. Hunter said Dimeo did a great job teaching him and the other new managers.
“James is definitely the most experienced of all of us,” said Hunter. “So he makes sure things get done and that we do whatever we need to do.”
Cheeseboro added that they each help with all aspects of the game, like filming practices, and not just in one role per person.
“Over the past month we’ve all been able to find out what we’re good at,” Cheeseboro said. “That being said, no one is assigned a role and anyone can perform any task assigned to them.”
Although not a player, Cheeseboro said he felt like he and the other managers were still part of the squad. He said the players and coaches had grown close over the past few months and he was happy he was part of the family.
“Being a manager made me feel like I was part of the team,” said Cheeseboro. “The players as well as the staff have fostered an inclusive environment which makes me and other managers feel included.”
Hunter said she felt the same, even though she considered herself to be more different from the players than from other managers.
“I think part of it is because I’m a freshman and they’re a very heavy senior team,” said Hunter. “But I can definitely say that as the season progressed I definitely got closer to [the players]. “
The players are also grateful to have the student managers around us, said junior guard Liam Spellman. Spellman said it was great to have additional assistants around the squad as there are only two coaches and one graduate assistant.
“Having the managers there to help the coaches is really good,” said Spellman. “James [Dimeo] really took the other three under his wing a bit and taught them… just having these four managers is good.
In 2019–On the 20th, Dimeo said he had traveled with the team for away games, but not for overnight trips. Although managers cannot travel with the squad for away games due to COVID-19 protocols this season, Hunter said they are working during home games.
“On game day… we pretty much make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible,” said Hunter. “My job is to make sure the boys have water during downtime and to make sure they have towels and the like.”
Although the team has only played one home game so far this season, Hunter said making those games the best part of the job. The energy, she says, is unmatched.
“It’s such a surreal experience to be sitting on the pitch with all the players,” said Hunter. “Watching the game with each one of them, cheering them on, giving them eye candy when they arrive… it’s definitely like a great family atmosphere in that regard.”
Dimeo was part of the team in the 2019–20 season when the Bombers won the Liberty League Championship over the Rochester Institute of Technology, and he said the atmosphere of that game was his favorite memory of the team. Dimeo said the goal is to be able to return to that moment this season.
“It was fun to be on a championship team like this,” said Dimeo. “And I hope we can repeat that this year or next year while I’m still here.”
Hunter is in the same major as Dimeo, so she said her goals for the future are similar. She said this this role has helped her realize that she wants to focus on the operational side of the sport and that having a role like this is a great experience.
“It’s a good tool to show me how a lot of sports work behind the scenes,” Hunter said. “It definitely gives me a new perspective on everything, and I think it really helps me in the long run with what I want to do with my career.”
Cheeseboro said he plans to take the experience in a different direction. As an athletic training specialist, Cheeseboro said he wanted to watch how athletes recover from injuries.
“The advantage that I would be given [over other students in my major] is being able to watch the help being administered in person, ”Cheeseboro said. “I wanted to see what it was like to be on the medical side of a sports organization. … I am able to observe what [athletes] need to do to recover.
Although the four student managers look for different things with their experiences, Dimeo noted this is a great opportunity for college students, especially those looking to get into sports management.
“Some of the values you learn [as a student-manager] … Are very good things to understand, ”said Dimeo. “Being in a Division III college means there are a lot of opportunities for management students to come in and really represent. “
Dimeo also said he urges other students at the college to become student managers, whether in basketball or other sports.
“I feel like anyone can contact these coaches,” Dimeo said. “Just say, ‘Hey, I really love football. I really like baseball. Do you have any opportunities for me to be a student–director?’ There is a plethora of opportunities here.