June 27, 2016
During the summer, WVUsports.com will give women’s basketball fans an inside look at the team behind the team. These individuals help the Mountaineers succeed academically and athletically. The first in the series features the Mountaineers’ student managers.
Time management is an essential skill not only for student-athletes, but for student managers as well. These managers spend countless hours helping the WVU women’s basketball team, from moving luggage on road trips to helping the coaching staff make practice and game operations as flawless as possible.
“We come into the practice facility, set up for practice and see if there is anything that the coaches or (Director of Operations/Assistant to the Head Coach) Pat Biondo need us to do,” noted Bryce Fordyce, one of WVU’s two student head managers. “During practice, we’ll rebound and pass for the girls. We always have a towel on our shoulder and a ball in our hand. If a ball goes out of bounds, we try to throw it right back in. We try to help keep the overall flow of practice going.”
Road trips can always be some of the most stressful times for managers. The crew must help the team seamlessly move 40 or 50 bags from the team bus to the airplane when departing and from the airplane to the team bus when arriving. The loading and unloading can be tedious, but the luggage needs to be transported in a quick and efficient manner, so the team can reach scheduled practice times and dinner at the hotel.
“We are always the first ones off the plane and off the bus getting all the luggage sorted out and to everybody,” said Fordyce. “If we have practice that night, we will get all the gear to the girls. Our normal duties are on the road for practice. Afterwards, we’ll get ready for gameday preparation with setting up the jerseys and get all the girls their uniforms. During the game, it’s similar to home. Set stools out for the game timeouts, rebound during pregame and halftime and give coach Mike Carey the clipboard so he can draw up plays.”
Judy O’Neil, a junior from Erie, Pennsylvania, has been a women’s basketball manager since her freshman year. She credits her experience as a lifelong tool that’ll help her succeed, especially with the improvement of her time management skills.
“I wouldn’t trade anything for the world for the experience I received,” noted O’Neil. “It keeps me busy. I don’t know what I would be doing without this job. I loved all the connections I have made and we were all one big family.”
Fordyce, a Morgantown native, notes that the opportunity to pursue his dream of coaching was a big reason why he joined the Mountaineer women’s basketball program.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to be in the sports,” Fordyce said. “My ultimate goal would be to eventually coach somewhere. I knew this would be the best way of getting my foot in the door because you’re able to meet a lot of people and learn the behind-the-scenes stuff of the operation.”
Both Fordyce and O’Neil agree that the student-athletes sacrifice a lot of time and energy to be the best they can be.
“It’s definitely eye-opening,” noted Fordyce. “To see what they have to do from lifting weights, to attending class, to going to study hall. It gives you a better sense of understanding of what it takes to be a student-athlete.”
Fordyce and O’Neil are not the only two managers for the team. Joining the duo are Collin Martin, Michael Liberatore and Derrick Allmond. All of these student-managers make a big difference in the behind-the-scenes operation for WVU women’s basketball.