Saying goodbye to a sport is often a heartbreaking challenge. Thankfully, the Marian Varsity basketball team managers, seniors Julia Nulty and McKenna Simpson, found a way to stick around the sport they love without actually slipping on a basketball jersey.
“We have been playing basketball since kindergarten, but I think being a team manager was what I was meant to do,” Simpson said.
The two seniors have played many years of basketball and soccer together throughout grade school at St. James/ Seton and high school. It only seemed right for them to end senior year as managers.
“I am so glad we were managers together. We always tried to pump the team up,” Simpson said.
The pair had two very important jobs that they are responsible for during games: filling up water bottles and handing out towels.
“Since Mr. [Craig] Panning did the stats and Michaela McLeay [’17] recorded
the games, we were basically water girls. When Michaela wasn’t there, we had to step up to the challenge of filming,” Nulty said.
They say that their water bottle skills helped the players score more points.
“We were actually pretty good at our job. There was never an empty water, so they were always hydrated. As we filled up their water bottles, the points went up, so we were basically playing for them,” Simpson said.
It wasn’t all work and no play for the team manager duo. The girls loved bonding with the team and never felt left out. They enjoyed talking to the girls on the bench and commentating the games to each other. Simpson and Nulty sometimes missed playing the game, but they loved still being around the team.
“If I was sitting at practice and watching them do all these annoying drills and punishments, I felt blessed I was not out there doing it also,” Simpson said.
“The only time I ever missed it was when they were in an intense game and I just wanted to go in and snag the ball. Also, when there was the perfect amount of seats on the bench and Coach [Lisa] Schmidt walked down the line, and she looked at me like she was going to give me a pointer as a player, but then she would look away because I’m not who she was looking for,” Nulty said.
Even though Simpson and Nulty are no longer players, their managing skills should not be overlooked. They love every girl on the team and always tried to motivate the players during games.
“I believe that we are the reason the team had such a good record. We were always boosting people up, and they were never tired because of our water-filling skills. We are the secret weapons. It is too bad that our skills fell short in Districts. The team had such a good season and I loved every minute of being a team manager,” Simpson said.