As the Ithaca College men’s basketball team has jumped out to a 3–1 start, several students have been working behind the scenes to make sure the team runs smoothly.
The student-managers have several roles including getting equipment, setting up the scoreboard, helping out in drills and filming the practices so the team can watch it back later. Juniors James Dimeo, Lucas Jafet, and freshmen Sara Hunter and Tim Cheeseboro are the four student-managers for the team this season. Dimeo has been involved with the team as a student-manager since his first year at the college and is the only one with experience in the role. As a student studying sport management, Dimeo is glad to have the opportunity to get experience in the field he is studying before graduating from college.
“When I got here as a freshman, I wanted to be a manager [for a sports team],” Dimeo said. “I plan on going the long way and staying in it for all four years, I love it so much.”
Dimeo played basketball in high school and wanted a chance to stay with the sport without playing, which was also a reason that he decided to join the team. He said he is not sure what path he will follow after college, but one potential option could be working as a graduate assistant at a Division I program.
As the oldest and most experienced student-manager on the team, part of Dimeo’s role also includes mentoring the other three managers and being a resource for them. Hunter said Dimeo has done a great job at teaching her and the other new managers.
“James definitely has the most experience out of all of us,” Hunter said. “So he’s making sure things get done and that we get everything done that we need to do.”
Cheeseboro added that they each help in all aspects of the game, like filming practices, not just sticking to one role per person.
“During the past month we have all managed to discover what we are best at,” Cheeseboro said. “With that being said, no one is assigned to a role, and everyone can complete any task given to them.”
Despite not being a player, Cheeseboro said he feels like he and the other managers are still a part of the team. He said the players and coaches have become close over the past few months and is glad he is a part of the family.
“Being a manager has made me feel like I am part of the team,” Cheeseboro said. “The players as well as the staff have fostered an inclusive environment that makes me, as well as the other managers, feel included.”
Hunter said she feels the same, even though she considers herself more different from the players than the other managers.
“I think part of it is because I am a freshman and it is a very heavy senior team,” Hunter said. “But I can definitely tell that as the season has progressed, I have definitely gotten closer with [the players].”
The players are also grateful to have the student-managers around, junior guard Liam Spellman said. Spellman said it is great to have extra helpers around the team because there are only two coaches and a graduate assistant.
“Having the managers there to help the coaches is really good,” Spellman said. “James [Dimeo] has really taken the other three under his wing a little bit and teaches them … just having those four managers is good.”
In 2019–20, Dimeo said he traveled with the team for away games, but not overnight trips. While the managers cannot travel with the team to away games due to COVID-19 protocols this season, Hunter said they work during home games.
“During game day … we’re pretty much just making sure that everything runs as smoothly as it can,” Hunter said. “My job is to make sure that the boys have water during timeouts and making sure they have towels and such.”
While the team has only played one home game so far this season, Hunter said being at those games is the best part of the job. The energy, she said, is unmatched.
“It’s such a surreal experience to be sitting on the court with all of the players,” Hunter said. “Watching the game with all of them, cheering them on, giving them high-fives as they come in … it’s definitely just like a big family atmosphere in that aspect.”
Dimeo was a part of the team in the 2019–20 season when the Bombers won the Liberty League Championship over Rochester Institute of Technology, and he said the atmosphere at that game was his favorite memory of the team. Dimeo said the goal is to be able to get back to that moment this season.
“It was fun to be a part of a championship team like that,” Dimeo said. “And I’m hoping we can repeat that either 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 that the role has helped her realize that she wants to focus on the operations side of sports and that having a role like this is great experience.
“This is a good tool in showing 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 definitely does help in the long run with what I want to do with my career.”
Cheeseboro said he plans on taking the experience in a different direction. As an athletic training major, Cheeseboro said he is interested in observing how athletes recover from injuries.
“The advantage I’d be given [over other students in my major] is being able to watch aid be administered in person,” Cheeseboro said. “I wanted to see what it was like being on the medical side of an athletic organization. … I am able to observe what [athletes] need to do in order to recover.”
Even if the four student-managers are looking for different things with their experiences, Dimeo said it is a really good opportunity for students at the college, especially those looking to go into sport management.
“Some of the values that you learn [as a student-manager] … are really good things to pick up on,” Dimeo said. “Being at a Division III college means there’s a lot of opportunities for student managers to come in and really represent.”
Dimeo also said he urges other students at the college to become student-managers, whether it is for basketball or other sports.
“I feel like anyone can reach out to those coaches,” Dimeo said. “Just say, ‘Hey, I really like soccer. I really like baseball. Do you guys have any opportunities for me to be a student–manager?’ There’s a plethora of opportunities here.”