TPHS sports managers find a special place on teams

At a school as focused on athletics as TPHS, the high school experience is characterized by the frenzy of touchdowns, halftime performances, shoving bodies in the student section, popping sounds of tennis balls on the court and clouds of dust trailing players between bases.

Amidst this chaos, it is easy to overlook some of the most vital figures, ever-present on the sidelines with clipboards in hand.

Chloe Pirino (12), one of the football team’s three student managers, often can be found standing on the sidelines of a football game behind a camera or holding a playbook. Pirino is responsible for writing down plays on paper, as well as recording clips of the games.

“The game day support is probably where [team managers] provide a lot of value … we couldn’t do what we do without them,” Offensive Line Coach Jake Ashby, who also teaches Intro to Business and Advanced Business Management, said. “They allow our athletes to stay on the field, because when we haven’t had team managers in the past, we had to have our own guys film games.”

The football team is not the only team that benefits from having student managers; the girls tennis team and the baseball team, among others, also enjoy this perk.

Girls tennis manager Rainey Keegan (11) has responsibilities similar to Pirino’s during matches and practices.

“I have to keep track of each match,” Keegan said. “There’s six [matches] going on at a time, so I’m constantly floating around making sure everyone is good, that we didn’t lose a tennis ball [and that we have] the scores. I’m always cheering as well, because that’s a big part of the team.”

However, the duties of team managers extend past the games themselves. While she controls the music, walk-up songs and scoreboard during the game, baseball team manager Margaret Cruz (12) also helps out with tryouts, uniforms and updating the website.

Many of the responsibilities of the team managers affect not only the day-to-day life of student-athletes but also their future prospects.

Keegan is responsible for keeping track of matches and the names of players, both of which are entered into UTR, a universal tennis rating used not only in high school but also professionally. A player’s rating can be bumped up or down depending on how she did in each match.

“It can be stressful to make sure you’re not mixing up the numbers or writing down the wrong names,” Keegan said.

Additionally, being a team manager is a large time commitment.

“It’s a job where you really have to show up and dedicate a lot of your time,” Pirino said. “I’ve gotten a lot of hours in and it’s definitely not been easy.”

However, for Pirino, the hard work needed to be a team manager is worth every bit of the effort.

“I’ve always had an interest in filming,” Pirino said. “I also love the game of football and, obviously not being able to play, it’s a great way to live through it a little bit and participate … It’s a good job to challenge me and teach me responsibility.”

The role of team manager can open doors to new opportunities in sports, even for non-athletes.

“[I decided to apply for team manager] since I knew I wasn’t really going to be playing a sport in high school and I feel like I have a bunch of leadership qualities,” Cruz said.

Keegan also appreciates the opportunity that being team manager offers her. She is currently unable to play tennis due to injuries, but she played on the TPHS girls tennis team both her freshman and sophomore years.

“We did a lot of cuts on varsity this year but I was lucky enough that [my coach] offered for me to be a team manager so I could still be on the team with the girls that I played with for the last few years,” Keegan said.

Not only are team managers vital for the technical function of their sports, but as a part of the team too.

“My favorite part of the job is how it feels like you’re part of the team … it’s like one big family,” Pirino said.

Cruz also values the more personal aspects of being team manager.

“Being able to be with the team for four years has been really special,” Cruz said. “[It’s] been fun to see the younger underclassmen grow to varsity and then the varsity graduate.”

Even as the players and teams shift with the passing years, the chaos that comes with the TPHS athletic spirit continues, bringing with it its superheroes on the sidelines. Ever present once you know where to look, team managers, clipboards in hand, fill nearly every role but player or coach, and are just as indispensable as either.

Photo by Hope Dennis/Falconer

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