Doing the hard work without the recognition

By Jim Trentadue

The coaching staff is thought of as running and guiding the team. The players are thought of as listening to the coaches and performing on the court. But what about all the hard work the staff does that people don’t see? This is where the role of team managers come in.

“We’re people who are behind the scenes but aren’t recognized,” said second-year manager Rob Infelise.

Infelise and third-year manager Dan Real are the two student managers for this year’s NIU men’s basketball team with Infelise working on the court and Real in charge of filming the practices.

An average day for the two goes like this: get to practice 45 minutes early to set up the scoreboard, the clock, the basketballs, the practice schedule and note pads for the coaches.

Then when practice begins, the managers are responsible for filming daily practices and being involved in the drills that the team is running.

When practice is over, the managers stay for an extra hour to put the practice equipment away, help the coaches with office work and run errands for the coaches.

Second-year NIU head coach Brian Hammel said that Real and Infelise are like “assistant coaches” and their role is crucial to the team.

“I think they do as much work as the players or even more,” Hammel said. “They help keep the coaches on schedule and communicate well with the players. They’re the mediator between the two.”

Last year was a transition year for the two managers as a new head coach and a new program came to NIU. But Hammel feels that their effort last season was a great one.

“What the coaches and I asked of them and what was returned was disproportional,” Hammel explained. “They gave much more than what we asked which is why I thought they were magnificent.”

In addition to making sure the practices and road trips run smooth, Real and Infelise also have learned what it takes to work well with each other.

“Being my first year, my goal was to get in a good working relationship with Dan and to fit in as well as I could. I think that I have done well with both,” said Infelise.

Being around the team is important to both because they have future interests in the field.

“My goal is to become a coach, and being around the players and the coaches makes me become more interested in coaching,” Real said.

As both managers prepare for the upcoming season, each has individual goals he has set for himself. For Infelise, trying to balance his work with his academics is his goal, and for Real, knowing that he is doing his job.

“My main goal is to know that what I’m doing is helping the team and getting the team to perform better,” said Real.

But both Dan’s and Rob’s team goals are to see that they help the coaches and players out as much as they could by following the team’s slogan for the year: Caring, Committing and Competing.

“The main point that we ask of Dan and Rob is no different than what we ask of the players, just be loyal and true to the program and we’ll be successful,” said Hammel.

Which is what they have been doing, just not being noticed.