Every week, fans of Whitman athletics stand on the sidelines and watch as student-athletes, decked out in gold and blue, compete and represent the school. Yet, what many often fail to notice is that behind the scenes of every sporting event, there is a small army of unsung heroes clad in dark blue. The game management team arrives at games long before any athlete and stays until well after the final whistle blows.
Game management’s job is typically broken up into three distinct areas: set up before the game, management during the game, and clean up afterwards. Senior Rachel Brock is currently employed by the game management department, and shared with The Pioneer how setup works at a typical soccer game.
“Setting up the field begins about two and a half hours before the game starts. We all arrive and set up the goals, tents, benches, flags, bleachers, and all other equipment,” Brock wrote in an email. “The goals are definitely the most difficult thing to set up–it usually takes part of the group the entire time to set them up. Setting up usually takes about an hour or so, again, depending on the goals.”
After the field is set up and the two teams arrive before the game, the management team takes a quick break before beginning their work during the competition. Sophomore Hannah Trettenero listed the types of jobs they are typically responsible for at a soccer game.
“I have only worked soccer games so far so I cannot speak for the other sports, but soccer is pretty straightforward,” Trettenero said. “During the games we do ball retrieval, game statistics, game clock, videotaping, and audio commentating.”
Brock elaborated on the process and discussed some of the difficulties of working during the soccer games.
“Everyone has [a different job] during the games, from ball retrieving to filming. I take stats and sometimes announce when I can convince people to let me do it,” Brock said. “Soccer stats aren’t that hard to take until someone scores. It’s hard to get the numbers of who scored and assisted, especially when you don’t know the team and can’t see the numbers on their jerseys.”
Along with these jobs, basketball and volleyball provide a whole new list of responsibilities for the game management team. Operating the electronic score board, especially the shot clock, becomes increasingly important in basketball games, for example. With fast-paced action and referees demanding precision, there is a very small margin for error.
The work done by game management is vital to the varsity athletics program. Film sessions are done with the videos shot by student employees. The NCAA uses the stats collected by game management to keep track of player’s performances. Sophomore Gabe Jacobson is a varsity athlete on the men’s soccer team who sees the tremendous value that game management brings.
“It’s pretty vital. I mean, ball retrievers for example are super important in helping everything go smoothly, and also the scoreboard and time people need to do their job right or everyone on the field will notice,” Jacobson said. “The hard part is that nobody notices if they do it right, but everyone does if they mess up.”
The man behind the scenes of the whole program is Bryce Heuett. When interviewed by email, Heuett discussed how he came to work at Whitman for this program and what he looks for when hiring new employees.
“I was hired from Southern Utah University where I was the media relations assistant. I applied to Whitman because I’m originally from Pullman and wanted to be in the Northwest,” Heuett said. “The main thing I look for in potential employees is a willingness to learn new skills. I understand it is difficult to get much game management experience so if they’re willing to learn that is the main thing, but not the only one.”
While game management is a tough and sometimes thankless job, it isn’t without its benefits. Brock explained why she puts in the effort and spends the time each weekend at sporting events.
“I do game management because I want to support my friends,” Brock said. “A lot of my friends are on the women’s and men’s soccer teams and by working the games, I guarantee that I will be there to support and cheer them on (although silently because I’m not actually allowed to cheer).”
Heuett shared similar thoughts about his favorite part of his job.
“I really enjoy sitting back and watching the game after set up is all done,” Heuett said. “It’s stressful having to supervise all the positions and I’m constantly worrying about something going wrong, but I can’t complain too much; I love sports and now they’re my occupation.”