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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

My time as a basketball manager

Photo+taken+by+Hugo+Rodas+%28Instagram%3A+%40hugoshoots%29
Photo taken by Hugo Rodas (Instagram: @hugoshoots)

Most managers for sports teams at Gonzaga did not plan to be one coming into the school. Usually, students want to become managers to be with a team because they could not make the team as a player either due to injury or being cut. However, when I came to Gonzaga, my goal right away was to become a manager for the varsity basketball team. I have always been around the sport, and while I am not the best athlete, I wanted to be around the game for both the love of the sport and the start of a career in basketball that could hopefully one day be a job in the NBA. 

The story of my freshman year as a manager is about as small as you can imagine simply because there was no season (due to Covid). I was technically still a manager, though, due to a response on an email from Coach Turner and a bag stuffed with basketball gear, which by my senior year, I had enough of to start another bookstore.

Sophomore year was when my managerial career actually began. I came into the first practice not knowing anybody. I didn’t even know Coach Turner that well; I had only talked to him a few times, mostly through call or text. If it was not enough that I was a small, skinny sophomore who knew nothing and nobody yet. I wasn’t even able to be in control of my own name because I was one of three Maxs. The others being Max D’Avella ‘22, head manager, and Max Kenyi ‘08, assistant coach. What the seniors ended up calling me at first was “Little Max,” which was not ideal from my point of view. Later in the season, I was given a new nickname, “Mr. Diaz,” which came after I was reading The Aquilian during a practice with a blazer on; we had Mass that day, and that’s what the team called me for the rest of my time as a manager. 

Through the season, I watched and learned everything I could about being a manager and helping the team. I also had to get used to basically living at Gonzaga during the basketball season because practice was nearly everyday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.. During the season, I am at Gonzaga from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on school days. My primary job during games sophomore year was basically being the waterboy, which was a pretty easy job— except when some players were having anger tantrums. Being the waterboy was not the most entertaining job, but it came with a great view of the game on the end of the bench where I sat with the other manager and sneakerhead Ivan Marroquin ‘22, who was probably the guy on the team I talked to the most my sophomore year. The season itself was decent, winning the DC Classic, but we lost to Paul VI in the WCAC semifinals and Jackson-Reed (were still called Wilson back then) in the DCSAA semifinals. Looking back, the amount of down to the wire games that we had was extraordinary and nerve-racking. 

Junior year, I became the “head manager” because the other two managers had graduated. The main task that came with the position was my new in-game job for the next two years was doing “the book,” which is basically the official (if we are the home team) in-game stat book. For the book, I tracked, for both teams, the running score, team fouls, player fouls, points for each player, timeouts, possession, technicals, and sometimes other stats if needed. All stats that I, or whoever was the home book, track are official; the scoreboard is technically not. The book is a tough job at first, but once you do every game for two years, you become sort of an expert. When running the book, you cannot afford to make any mistakes. You need to pay more attention to the game than literally anybody else in the gym, and when your view of the current play gets blocked, you need to do anything possible to know what happens; usually, that simply means having a second pair of eyes just in case. My failsafes were usually Mr. Mark Howell ‘73, math and computer science teacher, who usually works the scoreboard, and Mr. Ed Donnellan, social studies teacher, who usually works the shot clock, during home games. In addition to being the official book, I also often provided the stats to the Gonzaga Sports Broadcasting Club when they broadcast our games, usually with their main announcing duo: Collin Smith ‘24 and Owen O’Keefe ‘24.

As for the season itself, it had the same results as the last year, winning the DC Classic, losing in the semifinals for WCAC and DCSAA.

The team during my final season definitely consisted of the most talent compared to my previous two seasons. The starting line-up consisted of all D1 level Juniors: Nyk Lewis ‘25, Derek Dixon ‘25, Paul VI transfer, Christian Gurdak ‘25, Will Harper ‘25 and Alex Touomou ‘25 (replaced by Blake Harper ‘24 in the middle of the season due to injury). It was definitely an interesting season featuring a trip to Portland, Maine to get annihilated by an undefeated Montverde Academy in front of 6,000 Cooper Flagg fans. Going into the WCAC playoffs, hopes were high. We were second in the conference behind only Paul VI, and we were undefeated in the Carmody Center. We were able to make it to our first WCAC championship during my time as a manager, and we were close at points of the game, but we missed out in the end falling to Paul VI. Everyone was down after the game, but especially the seniors since it was our last chance. I felt mixed emotions of sadness and anger, but in the end, all you can do is move forward.

My last ever game as a manager came in the DCSAA semifinals where we lost to Sidwell Friends by one point. 

In my time as a manager, I have seen, learned and done many different activities. From going on trips to Chicago, New York City, Springfield, Mass., Atlanta, Portland, Maine, Baltimore and other random places in Maryland. To learn the ins and outs of how a top tier basketball program runs. I was part of a community that allowed me to feel at home at Gonzaga. While I was not able to get any rings in my three seasons as a manager (other than the three DC Classic trophies), I still very much enjoyed being a varsity basketball manager, and I am forever grateful for people like Coach Turner and Coach Harper ‘84 for making me feel at home with the team.

My final perk from my time as a manager came on Charter Day in the form of receiving the honor of the Pete Grau ‘56 Award for my service as a manager.

As I move towards the next chapter of my life in college, I will definitely use all that I have learned from being a manager, especially since I will continue to be a basketball manager at the University of Miami.

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