Ian May grew up loving Michigan State basketball. Now, the 2013 Cary-Grove graduate spends 40-50 hours a week inside the Spartans program, working as one of 12 student managers. His duties include breaking down video, assisting at practices and carrying out various game day duties. The job, which is unpaid, has given May a new perspective – both on basketball and on the team he grew up cheering for.
It’s not something I really dreamed about or imagined so when I first got the job, it was just all so exciting. But then you realize you’ve got a job to do. You start to get integrated within the program. Now that I’m a couple months into it, it’s almost like that it’s just my job that I come into every day. People on my floor and people I know are like, ‘Wow – you’re a manager’ and I just say, ‘Well, it’s just another day at work’. But it’s still pretty cool. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t stop and think about how great of an opportunity I’ve got here.
(Coach Tom Izzo) is the kind of a guy whose passion just rubs off on people. Being around him day in and day out will change you in good ways and will make me a stronger person. I guess being around him was different than I expected because you’re used to seeing him when he’s on TV and you get more of his media persona. But then, you see him in practice and that’s a little more intense of an environment. I see a side of (Izzo) that I hadn’t seen before. That’s when you realize how good of a coach he is when he’s in practice and conditioning his players into being such a good team.
I’ve seen (college basketball) more from within the program. When you see it on TV, it’s almost like it’s not human and that it’s so far away. Now that I’m within it, the players are more like people to me. You realize that they’re just kids who go to class and want to have fun. I have more of a personal approach to it now. You realize that a lot of it is about winning but these kids are here to play basketball and have fun and that’s not something you see on TV. It’s like you see almost these robots who are out there to get big dunks. Now, I can see how things happen. It’s almost like watching the bread being made and seeing the final loaf of bread instead of just eating it.
Sometimes, the games get really serious. I remember when we played Columbia, which is a mid-major team, and it was a pretty close game and so things would get pretty heated – even among the managers, when things didn’t go well. When we’re winning, it’s more enjoyable, but when you’re losing, it’s more of a roller coaster than it was before (as a fan). So you just see everything differently. You say ‘live and die’ (with the team) and that’s totally how it is. It’s one organization, one family, one team – even when you’re a lowly manager and when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. We’re all going to win together and we’re all going to lose together. We’re all just here to make sure we can win every single game and that’s only something you get when you’re within the program. As a fan, when you lose, you go back home or to your dorm or you read about it online. But for us, we’re here, we see the players’ reactions the next day. It gives you a new perspective.
I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there’s someone you’d like to see featured, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.