It was my junior year in high school and one of my friends asked if I wanted to manage the boys' basketball team with her. I didn't really know what the kind of job entailed, but I said yes anyway.
The next two years of my life were some of the best. I watched my boys take on all kinds of teams. I reveled in their victories and felt their sadness when they lost. I would have done anything for them and they knew it.
Every year, we would bake them something. I would make a bunch of cupcakes and ensure everyone got one after the game. It was my simple way of showing that I loved them. And I hope they knew I would have done anything for them. I only wanted their success and their happiness.
Being on the road with them and attending their practices made me feel like I was part of the team.
I even had my picture taken with the other manager and got it put in the yearbook. I was over the moon. I felt included. I felt important.
Now I'm in college, managing the Towson Women's Basketball Team, and I feel that same rush. I go to the practices and attend their games, and it's one of the best experiences of my life. The staff and the team always make me feel welcome. They make me and all of the other managers feel important, like we're valuable to the team.
Watching them play from the sidelines is the most thrilling. I see every bucket, I run through every play that they could make in my head. I watch them transition from offense to defense with no problem. Every run up and down the court, I watch with intense eyes. I try to make sure that they're taken care of at every time-out and I cheer with them after their wins. I feel their losses in the bottom of my heart like a pit.
Just like a parent, I want to see them win. I know what they're capable of, and sometimes it hurts to not see them play up to their full potential.
But the biggest part of being a manager is being there for support. It's more than just a job to me. These people, the players, the coaches, and the other managers mean everything to me. We're a family.
Sports families are forever.