Football managing: the best school activity imaginable


My football senior banner, which includes what I’ve been pouring my life into the past seven years: football and water for football players.

Back in the days of middle school, seventh grade specifically, I was a busy guy. That is, Monday through Friday from 8:00a.m. to 3:15p.m. I was in no school activities and was sort of oblivious to the fact that they existed. All I wanted to do after school was get my homework done and read books. Then one day, my mom asked me, “why don’t you become a football manager?” 

“What would I do?” I asked quizzically.  

“Probably things like picking up equipment at practices and filling water bottles during games,” she said. 

What followed was a football journey that is still going on today and will end this fall.  The next thing I knew, I was at my first football practice. I mostly hung around our coaches, Dar Dahms and Jason Stock. Whenever they needed a certain piece of equipment, I was their guy. But I also ended up associating myself with the boys in my class that I didn’t normally hang out with: the jocks. All of a sudden I was with those sweaty sports nuts for a minimum of two hours a day. Let’s be clear: I was with them but was in no way one of them. I went through that whole season without knowing what a first down was. Whenever Dahms drew up plays on his whiteboard, I had no idea what he was talking about. I still don’t whenever plays are being drawn today. To give you an idea of how behind everyone I was football wise, I went that whole first season without knowing what a first down was. But it was still sort of fun as I made new friends and was learning about the game every day. 

My eighth grade season was different. For one thing, I decided to go to every single varsity football game. Why? Because when you’re in something, you might as well be all in. I didn’t plan on this, but it ended up giving me a glance into what high school football is all about. This was 2018, which was a good year to start cheering for PCM football as they went 13-0 and won the state championship while beating all of their opponents by at least 23 points. I had stumbled across a football dynasty without even knowing it. While they were busy doing that, I was busy making sure my fellow eighth graders were the best hydrated team on the field. I was having fun and making memories. I didn’t want it to end. I was part of something greater than myself, after all. But it had to end sometime and it did one mid October afternoon. 

The next year was the start of my high school career and the year after the state title. I was still with teammates from my class, but this time, we played on Fridays at 4:30p.m. before varsity as well as JV games under the Monday night lights. In other words, I was a busy guy, just as busy as any player on the team. You know, in terms of time commitments. My freshman year was special because I got to learn about what varsity football was all about. Prior to 2019, I had never managed a game where the score counted towards playoff contention or anything like that. I had also never managed a game where the total fan attendance was in the triple digits. It just didn’t happen. Then all of a sudden both of those things happened in my first varsity game, which was a 29-28 overtime win for PCM. I gave water to those varsity players but it wasn’t the same as none of them were freshmen. It was still a fun year for varsity as a lot of them took me under their wing, especially Seth Greiner, who was just outgoing and friendly around everyone. Plus, I had all the freshman and JV games to look forward to. Once again, I was busy. 

My sophomore year was special. That was the first year that I was told to video plays at practice. It was a whole new world for me! All of a sudden I was cleaning up after drills at practice and filming plays. Some days Coach Bonnett would have the team do upwards of 80 plays. I would just film in the press box and listen to music. It was good, but what was great was that the varsity team was incredible. So incredible, in fact, that we went to the state semifinals at the UNIdome in Cedar Falls. With a record of 10.-0. Sophomores dress varsity so I got to be with all my sophomore teammates in the dome. A few of them even played. It was awesome but PCM lost to Waukon 38-21. Still, the atmosphere was the best I’ve ever seen. It was just a great experience. 

My junior year was also special because a lot of my junior friends were on varsity. I also grew really close to the kicker Tyler Kueker as I was always shagging balls when he practiced kicking. I must have saved him hundreds of yards of walking over that year. I would do that and then film practice most days so I was busy again. My junior year I quit going to JV games because, well, most of my class was on varsity anyway. Plus, I had homework to get done! Something had to give. We only went 5-5 but it was probably the best year of football of my life. 

That takes me to this year and at this point, I am just trying to make the most of the time I still have. My goal for this year has been to always be at my best effort. As of this writing, it is the week of my senior night and varsity is sitting at a 4-3 record. What’s more important: every after school practice, I’m there. Every time I’m called out in games for water, I’m there. Why? Someone has to. For anyone who finds themselves as a manager in the future, you have to know two things. One: This job is as fun as you want it to be.  If you go to practices and make it fun, it is fun. Two: you get all the glory of being a football player minus all the sweaty practices. That’s not to say there is no effort required. The more you do, the more everyone likes you. The more everyone likes you, the more enjoyable it is. That has been my experience. Just remember that you are  part of something greater than yourself. Honestly, that is why this is the best after school activity imaginable.