No Days Off for Women's Basketball's Managers
Being an LSU women’s basketball manager is a thankless job, but the perks and benefits that come with the position outweigh all else.
What seems like a dream gig actually requires tireless hours of dedication and commitment, but free food, inside access and relationships with players and coaches make it all worth the while.
“We pretty much get the same benefits as the players get, except we don’t have to play,” said junior manager Sarah Patche.
As far as the day-to-day operations, it all happens behind-the-scenes when no one’s watching. The managers are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly at practice during the week, while setting up uniforms, ball racks and assisting in pregame shootaround on game day.
“It’s like a part-time job,” said Patche. “Everyone pretty much averages 20 hours in a typical week, and that’s without having a game day. It’s definitely a huge commitment.”
Aside from game preparation, a significant portion of what the managers do, Patche says, goes into event planning and management. For most home games, LSU hosts its boosters for a pregame meal and banquet before tip-off. The managers also assist with on-campus recruiting.
With LSU sitting at 18-6 overall and 8-4 in conference play, excitement is plentiful around the Lady Tiger program, and the managers have enjoyed a front row seat to it all the entire season.
“I love it,” Patche said. “Just to see the dynamic of the team change over time, to see us grow, and overcome certain things…Being in the background, being able to see how the coaches make changes, it’s just very interesting from a basketball standpoint.”
When the team’s on the road, the managers rotate for who makes the trip. There are seven total, and only three typically go, but senior Ahmonya Edwards says traveling is something you earn as you get older.
According to head coach Nikki Fargas, the group is especially cohesive and their synergy is spectacular. As all seven managers spend most of their time together, it forces them to become closer and build stronger friendships.
“It’s similar to the team in that we’re around each other so much that you can’t help but not be friends,” Patche said. “We’ve definitely become friends outside of co-workers.”
In fact, the LSU WBB managers just started their own intramural squad at the UREC, and many of the current varsity players attended their first game on Sunday night to show support. Essentially, the roles were reversed, as the players watched and managed from the sideline, and the managers captured their first-ever victory on the floor.
“All the girls came to cheer us on,” said Rakeem Spencer, brother of junior guard Rakell Spencer. “They were kind of like our managers. They rebounded for us. It was really fun.”
It’s clear there are no barriers between the managers and the players. They’re all good friends, which makes Coach Fargas smile from afar.
“It’s more than being a manager,” Fargas said. “It’s about building relationships, it’s about being of service to each other. To me, they are really great leaders. I’ve always believed one of the biggest characteristics of a leader is to be of service.”
While the men’s basketball managers, also referred to as ‘The Wade Brigade,’ participate in the country-wide tradition of playing the opposing teams’ managers the night before the game, the women feel this has the potential to be their own little tradition. Like they said, they are 1-0, and prepared for whoever is next in line.
Most of all, the managers keep a lot off everyone’s plate.
“When you have players who play at this elite level, they can’t do this by themselves,” said Fargas. “What we’ve assembled, with our managers, is a group who make life a little bit easier for [the players]. When you have managers that are there to support you, and there to help your day-to-day experience, it’s pretty special.”
Fargas wants them to know that everybody who touches the LSU women’s basketball program is equally as important. From the coaches, to the trainers, to the practice players, the mantra surrounding the program has always been about unity. And even if they may feel unappreciated at times, the managers are problem solvers who don’t whine or complain. They show up early, prepared and ready to go when called upon.
“The same things that we’re requiring of our current players, we’re requiring that out of our managers, and they are checking each one of those boxes,” Fargas said.