The men beyond the X’s and O’s

The men beyond the Xs and Os

By Tyler Dixon

Team managers juggle school, basketball dirty work

Even before Saluki basketball players take the court at the SIU arena, four team managers have already been in the game for hours.

“I tell these guys when we hire them that they have the job with the least amount of glory,” said Nate Mast, director of opperations for men’s basketball. “They have to do all of the things that nobody really wants to do.”

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Head basketball manager Mark Morrissey is entering his fourth year as a manager. Morrissey is a senior from Evergreen Park majoring in criminology and criminal justice, and said he was a manager for his high school basketball team.

Morrissey said one of the best things about being a manager is learning about the game.

“You just learn a lot about basketball, different offenses and defenses and a lot about behind the scenes,” Morrissey said.

Besides Morrissey, the other three managers are senior Danny Harman, sophomore Kyle Teegardin and freshman Nick Bell.

Bell, from Peoria studying business management, played basketball in high school and wanted to stay around it in college.

“I wanted to be a basketball manager because I really wanted to get into coaching basketball,” he said. “I didn’t think my playing career was going to continue, so I wanted to stay around the game. I thought this would be the next best way to do it.”

Being a first-time college student and a basketball manager is difficult, but Bell said he has been getting help from the people around him, which makes the transition easier.

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Mast said Bell is an athlete’s manager because he was a successful athlete in high school and is not afraid of hard work.

“Nick is a different guy to me, he’s very mature, he came into college and he’s goal oriented,” Mast said. “He’s going to work, you get a guy that’s wanting to work, and it’s a pretty easy transition.”

By the time the players have to be at practice, the managers have already been working for at least an hour. The managers have to get everything ready before players arrive — They get equipment ready, get water and Gatorade ready for the team and help out when practice starts. Any time a player wants to stay after practice and shoot, the managers are the lucky ones that get to stay with them and rebound.

Morrissey said he has helped with everything from laundry on road trips to film editing.

However, there are quite a few benefits of being a manager. The employees receive Under Armour gear and get to travel with the team.

Harman and Teegardin said traveling with the team is based on seniority and the location of games. Teegardin said he would get to travel when a game is near his home of Joliet, while Harman is at a disadvantage with no games being close to his hometown of Mason City.

Mast said traveling is one of the best parts of being a manger. He said he did not get to travel until he was a walk-on in college.

“It opens your eyes to different cultures, different experiences and different ways of living,” Mast said. “I think as a manager you get to enjoy some of that experience.”

Still, Teegardin said one manager benefit trumps all others.

“(You are) basically almost being a part of the team,” Teegardin said. “It’s pretty cool, I’ve always just wanted to be around a Division I program.”

The managers also agreed Coach Barry Hinson is great to work with.

“I just love working with Coach Hinson, all the knowledge he brings about basketball and the hard work he shows and the way he pushes his players to get more out of them,” Bell said.

Morrissey said it is not only about work but making friends as well.

“You build relationships with the other managers, coaches, players and especially with Coach Hinson, he’s always teaching us life lessons,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey is in his final year of college and will graduate in May. He said he would absorb as much information as he can in his final year.

“It kind of hit me that this is my last year, the uncertainty of what I’ll be doing next year, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and enjoy it,” Morrissey said. “I’m trying to learn as much as possible.”

Tyler Dixon can be reached at

[email protected]

or 536-3311 ext. 269.

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