In every organization there is a support system that makes life easier for those in charge. The Ohio State men’s basketball team is no different and much of its support comes from their student managers, who devote countless hours and effort to helping reduce the stress players and coaches endure throughout a rigorous, five-month season.
“We do whatever the coaches and players need taken care of,” Brad Smith, a Perrysburg, Ohio, native and fourth-year student manager, said. “We are responsible for setting up and tearing-down practice. We will keep the gym floors clean, make sure the players and coaches have water when needed and keep statistics during practice. Outside of practice we help out the basketball secretary in the office and assist with the recruiting process by putting together pamphlets for the recruits.”
Managers also take time out of their busy schedules to travel with the team to make sure everything is secure when they take to the road.
“Our job never stops,” Smith said. “We work hard no matter where we go. If we go on the road it is no different than being at home. The less we are noticed the better because it means we are doing our job and we will not get in trouble with the coaches.”
So why did these students want this job and how did they get involved with the program?
“I always have loved basketball and love to be around the game,” Erik Zadrozny, a senior, majoring in family resource management, said. “When I came to Ohio State, I wanted to get involved with basketball so I called the Ohio State basketball office and talked to Randy Shrout, the director of basketball operations, and I was hired almost on the spot.”
Senior Jordan Warfield saw the chance to become a manager as an opportunity to meet some new people.
“When I came to Ohio State I wanted to be involved with the athletics department,” Warfield said. “I also wanted to meet new people and add some excitement in my life. At first I wanted to be involved with the football program so I talked to Danny Swain, who is the head football equipment manager, but then I realized football was going to take up too much time out of my school schedule. Swain, set me up with Randy Shrout, who hired me on the spot. For Smith, his decision to become a manager was to get closer to his goal of becoming a college coach.
“It has been my dream to become a college coach,” Smith said. “When I came here I wanted to be a part of the OSU basketball tradition and hopefully enhance my basketball knowledge. My high school coach contacted his friend, Jamie Kashmir, who worked as the team’s video coordinator, and they set me up with this job.”
Aside from all the demanding hours of work, the managers are able to find fun when they have the chance. They also have made many memories along the way.
“This job has been nothing but fun,” Zadrozny said. “Going to Muai, Hawaii, San Francisco, Calif., and making that incredible run to win the Big Ten tournament in 2002 are some of the best times I have had in my life.”
Smith has a broad range of memories, but said the trip to the Big Ten tournament in 2002 was his favorite memory.
“Obviously the trip to Hawaii was a memorable experience,” Smith said. “But my favorite memory was when we beat Illinois in the semifinal game of the 2002 Big Ten tournament. Our team came into the game as heavy underdogs and many critics didn’t give us a chance to win. We came out and played the hardest we have ever played and with more emotion than I have ever seen a team play with and claimed the victory.”
Overall, the managers have no regrets about being a part of their favorite sport.
“I know the seniors will miss being here and working for Coach (Jim) O’Brien and his staff,” Warfield said. “I have met many great people even people who are involved with the team.”
“For me, being a manager has been an incredible experience,” Smith said. “I am so happy to have met Coach O’Brien, he has given me new insight to the game of basketball and I hope one day I can be as good a coach as he.”