Follow the managers
Being a student manager for the UD men's basketball program may be the most unsung and unseen student job on campus.
But thanks to social media, Dayton Flyers fans have, over the past five years, gotten a tiny glimpse into this fast-moving, high-tech, physically and mentally demanding behind-the-scenes role.
The hours are punishing; the travel schedule is, too.
But if their Twitter feed is to be believed (no blue “verified” check mark — yet), they get all the Biggby coffee they want, and the gear is great: “We have a pretty nice contract with Nike, so we get some really cool clothes,” says John Miller, a senior sport management major from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a manager since 2018, the summer before his first year. He’s planning a career in NCAA administration.
Manager Twitter: A thing
Since 2016, the @DaytonManagers account has built a following of more than 2,000 — and it’s not just their parents and roommates.
“There’s a large college basketball community on Twitter, and there’s a large manager following on Twitter, too,” says Patrick Edwards, a senior accounting major from Pittsburgh who, like Miller, started his student management career at summer camps before his first year at UD.
“Almost every high-major school has a manager Twitter account, and a lot of the low-major schools do as well,” says Miller, who followed manager Twitter accounts in high school.
Among manager accounts, they hold their own, Edwards says.
“Clemson’s definitely up there, and Ohio State is very elite,” he says. “Definitely Xavier, Dayton and Ohio State are three of the best manager Twitter accounts in the country. It’s just a coincidence that they all happen to be teams that our fans don’t always get along with.”
In addition to mad skills in video editing, statistics, organization and planning, the student managers on the Twitter account have a sense of humor, and they’re not afraid to use it.
While they’re recording the Flyers’ best drills, drives, screens and zones at every practice and game, the managers occasionally end up in front of the camera, too. In this job, they have to hustle — and that floor is slippery.
“We’ve had some funny instances where a manager sprints out there and trips with the stool and then goes sliding and drops a stool or a water bottle — and we’ve used that before,” Edwards says.
When you’ve got the most advanced sports video editing software on the market at your disposal, you can’t let material like that go to waste. In September 2020,
@DaytonManagers replayed a throwback reel of their favorite manager foibles on the court. “Happy first day of fall, Flyers!”
Boasting a boost
In November, after the Flyers toppled fourth-ranked Kansas in the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, Florida, all eyes turned to Twitter at @DaytonMBB — and several thousand also looked in on
Miller acknowledges that their analytics boost came on the mighty coattails of red-shirt freshman forward Mustapha Amzil, who shot the game-winning basket, but that didn’t keep them from boasting on the manager alumni group chat that the impressive (allegedly historic) leap in impressions came from their pithy dispatches about doing laundry and crafting makeshift courts on hotel floors.
When a Division I team is on the road, Miller explains, coaches and players are all strategy, all the time, and if they need a court while they’re not at the gym, it’s the managers’ job to come up with one. With blue tape and a tape measure, they deliver — and when it goes on Twitter, they’re in it to win it.
“I am team for-scale, and Pat is team not-for-scale,” Miller says.
Good content off the court
All the way home from the Orlando invite, @DaytonManagers documented the trophy’s travels with various players. When the team bus rolled up Frericks Way in the wee hours of the morning Nov. 29, Red Scare greeted the Flyers by the hundreds, cheering as the players and the trophy emerged.
“A warm welcome home from the BEST student section in the country!” tweeted
@DaytonMBB with a video that got almost 17,000 views. At 1:37 a.m., @DaytonManagers
tweeted the trophy’s final destination: “Home.” Six minutes later on the same thread came a video of three managers toting their suitcases up the empty sidewalks of the student neighborhood under the streetlights’ greenish glow: “Managers are almost home, if anybody was wondering.” It got about 700 views plus several replies — one from student manager alumnus Henry Stark ’20, now the director of basketball operations for University of Illinois-Chicago: “Gotta love the 2am walk back to Kief and Lowes!”
Clearly, the job’s under the radar, but it’s not thankless. They get a lot of praise from the coaching staff, and Dayton Daily News reporter David Jablonski often tweets about the hard work he sees them doing. Players give them the occasional shout-out, too.
“Right after I sent out the Black Friday tweet about laundry, court taping and a top-five win being better than Black Friday shopping, Mustapha quoted it and called us the MVPs,” Miller says. “That was great.”
A dance all their own
Student managers dopn't get to watch basketball the way spectators do, but they do get to play it. On the night before almost every game, they play two 20-minute periods against the managers and sometimes staff of the opposing teams, and the competition is pretty tough, says criminal justice and sociology graduate Alex Roberts ’21 of Springboro, Ohio, who is the student managers’ supervisor this season. A lot of managers played basketball in high school and were good — just not good enough for Division I.
“In 2017, we actually went to the manager final four,” Roberts says. “The fans voted who they wanted to go further, and I think four or five managers and some of our graduate assistants played in Phoenix at the Final Four. We all enjoy that because it’s still competitive, but we have fun doing it.”
Tweeting the Weckesser way
When the managers witness something social media-worth, they don’t just tweet on impulse. Accounting graduate Matt Weckesser ’21, a student manager for four years, developed the method managers John Miller and Patrick Edwards use today: Observe for a season or two to perfect the craft, and before tweeting, seek and give feedback in the managers’ group chat to polish the delivery, proof for errors and make sure it’s going to land the way they intend.
“We kind of coordinate,” Edwards says. “Like, if John wants to post something, he’ll ask me, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ and, ‘Could this be taken another way?’ or vice versa, and just helping out with the wording here and there.”
Maureen Schlangen works in Roesch Library. She falls even when floors aren’t slippery. Sometimes, she sticks the landing.