Fields, courts, mats, pools, tracks, rivers, and courses—Harvard student-athletes compete on all kinds of environments. And in each location, a predictable cast of characters helps the Crimson to success.
Head coaches guide, assistant coaches supplement, strength trainers toughen, and sports medicine professionals heal. Then, of course, there are the athletes themselves through which performances culminate.
This list is not complete, however. The efforts of one particular group of individuals affiliated with Harvard athletics goes largely unnoticed.
For the Crimson’s baseball, basketball, cross country, squash, women’s tennis, track and field, and water polo teams, student managers are an integral cog in the machine. By streamlining practices and helping with sideline management during games, these student managers simplify the lives of coaches and athletes—and make success that much easier.
Attention to detail is key when aiding in the everyday process. Student managers thrive in working on the small, sometimes overlooked aspects of a team. For the managers, it’s all just part of the job. Just ask senior Peyton Fine, a student manager for men’s basketball.
“I think it starts with just having everything ready for practice and that’s sort of the day-in, day-out of the role,” senior Peyton Fine said. “A lot of the time before practice the guys will do a lift, so we’ll be there towards the end of their lift just making sure waters are out, that the court is clean, that different extra equipment that we use during the practice is set up…. Within the games, it’s our job to make sure the bench is set up, making sure during timeouts that we…bring out the stools onto the court.”
Fine and the rest of the men’s basketball student management cohort tirelessly work to ensure the needs of the coaching staff and players are met such that the squad can perform to the best of its abilities without having to worry as much about the little things.
Managers on other teams provide similar assistance, but no manager is confined merely to aiding in equipment and electrolyte transfer.
For sophomore Rana Bansal, the No. 2 men’s squash manager, a typical practice day could involve anything from filming sessions to refereeing intra-squad matches, or even playing on-court with some members of the team. On match day, his responsibilities tend to revolve around score reporting and lending support to the team.
Fine has a more expansive role within the men’s basketball team, as well, as he handles much of the deeper analytics reporting that coaches rely on to color their decision-making processes.
“During the game, we’re tracking all the substitutions that come in and out of the game so we can do line-up efficiencies and line-up plus-minuses,” Fine said. “That’s a stat that in a lot of bigger conferences the media will take care of. If you have like the ACC, the Big Ten, or Big 12, there’s such a media presence at those games, that [they] can usually track those stats.... The one thing we don’t have [in the Ivy League] is [a lot of media coverage], so that’s something we have to do internally.”
Without much media coverage of Ancient Eight matchups, student managers are there to pick up the slack where it’s needed. Statistical tracking, statistical analysis, and score reporting can just another part of their role.
The ways in which such a role manifests itself can constantly change. Clearly, the duties of a singular student manager depend on the requirements of his or her individual team. Methodologies and personalities vary from team to team and sport to sport, resulting in different experiences across the board.
“I think being team manager entirely depends on the team you are working with, because each team has different needs and requirements for its players,” Bansal said. “I have been able to get close with the guys on the team and feel very strongly about making sure that we are successful not only in matches but the way the squad feels and approaches each match.”