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A free association game beginning with "Harvard Women's Lacrosse" might lead to a number of different responses.
You might say "Char Joslin." Or "a damn good team." Or "Just mutilated B.C." But few would answer: "a truly outstanding manager."
I'd like to end this injustice.
It's too easy to"ooh" and "ahh" at nifty bounce shots, to scream with pleasure at a timely interception, and to admire coaching finesse, while forgetting all about that hero that makes this game what it is: the manager.
He sits, hunched over the clock panel at the table, armed with a cross pen and a substitution horn.
Folks, meet Andy Arends.
How did Andy decide to be manager?
"A month ago I met a friend of mine for dinner at Mather, and it turns out she's one of the captains, Julia French," Arends said. "She said they needed a manager and started giving me a hard time about how I'd make a good one."
Arends knew the grave responsibility of the job, had heard rumors about the gut-wrenching life of a manager, and did not take the offer lightly.
"I thought about it, and thought about it," Arends said. "It was something different, I guess, something out of the ordinary, and I said, why not? I guess I'm just a nice guy."
But being a nice guy won't carry you through a lacrosse game. No, sirree. It takes courage, strength, and stamina.
While the players rush down the field, checking and tossing, Arends' pen rushes across the stats page, circling and marking times.
Imagine the scene. Julie Clifford gets bashed in the knee. Penalty. (Arends takes it down.) She takes the ball to the outside of the circle and tosses it to Becky Gaffney who wops the ball in. (Assist, score, time. Probable substitution pending.)
Isn't he glad he used Dial?
"It was nerve-racking," said Arends. "I was always afraid I was going to screw up."
Even though it was his first time, Arends was unrelentless with himself. He would accept nothing less than perfection.
"The first half I set the clock at 20 minutes instead of 25 minutes," Arends confessed. "I also got the wrong set of game balls, and before the game started I had to run back and get different ones."
He keeps listing.
"There were little glitches with the clock here and there, and with the score. I was a little slow on the score a couple of times."
But, with the Crimson scoring practically every other minute, and with a frenzy of substitution every other play, a few harmless blunders are expected.
And the stats are the least of it. The job of manager entails much more than keeping the time, taking down goals, saves, assists, and engineering substitutions with a ear-blasting, really annoying horn.
It involves intricate financial knowledge.
"When they go away, I take care of the money--meal money and travel money and stuff," Arends said.
It also takes culinary ingenuity.
"I carry out water, ice, and cut oranges for each team and set up the tables," Arends said.
As a man without much lacrossemanaging experience, Arends has come a long way in one game. And will go much further.
"I'm from Iowa and this is the first game I've ever seen in my life," Arends said. "Hopefully, the next game will go better. I'll know more what I'm doing."
Until that time, Arends is proving that the pen can be mightier than the stick.
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