Feb. 14, 2001
by Blake Kirkman
As head coach Mike Brey and the Irish men's basketball team work towards building a winning tradition on the court, there is another solid tradition that has been part of the team for many years - the Notre Dame manager program.
"A lot of the times it may look like we're not working," jokes senior Paul Diamantopoulos, who along with Brendan Sullivan, works as a student manager for the men's basketball team.
"All of the major tasks we do are finished before the games even start," adds Sullivan, a senior manager from Charlestown, Mass.
In meeting Diamantopoulos and Sullivan, commonly referred to as 'P' and 'B' by the players, one quickly notices the love for sports which is expected from someone in their position. What may be surprising, however, is the abundance of ways in which the two keep the day-to-day operations of the basketball team running smoothly.
Sullivan, a finance major, works closely with the equipment, as well as the day-to-day practice and game aspects of the team. He is also responsible for handing out practice gear and organizing and sending out the team's laundry.
"I don't actually have to do the laundry," explains Sullivan.
"Luckily, St. Michael's Laundry Service saves me on that one."
Meanwhile, Diamantopoulos, who is working towards a double major in management information systems and Japanese, assumes more of a personnel role with the team.
"Our travel coordinator arranges our flights and hotels, and then I do all the rooming lists and travel seating lists. I handle game tickets for the players families at home and on the road, and I take care of the meals including the pregame meals before the home games," Diamantopoulos explains.
He is also responsible for all of the financial expenses the team accrues, which means that he is responsible for doing daily budget reports.
"So basically, I mean nothing and Paul means everything," suggests Sullivan jokingly before explaining his game-day responsibilities.
"Game day is a big day for me," Sullivan says.
"I have to make sure the visitors and the officials get set up in their locker rooms, and then the same for our team. When it is time for the actual game there are really only a few things we have to do during timeouts with the towels and water, but mostly we get to watch the game."
To say Sullivan and Diamantopoulos have worked hard to get to where they are today truly is an understatement, as both started out in the manager program their freshman year.
The manager program has a long-standing tradition in the Notre Dame athletic department. Each year, letters are sent to the entire freshman class inviting them to join in the four-year process.
"The way the program works is as a freshman and sophomore you pretty much work anything," explains Sullivan.
"Then there is an evaluation process at the end of your sophomore year and they cut it down to 21 people through peer evaluations. Those 21 juniors are then assigned to the football team for the season."
"At the end of the football season your junior year, they do another evaluation and everyone is ranked from one through 21," explains Diamantopoulos.
"Depending on where you are ranked, you get to pick your senior sport."
Many long hours are spent along the way, but the common ground found by all students who participate in the manager program come in the form of friendships and an extreme love of sports.
"The access that you have is just amazing. Even though you may not be out on the court playing the game, you're right there. You get to be in the locker room to hear all the motivational speeches. You get to travel with the team. You're there for all the highs and the lows," suggests Diamantopoulos.
With just the five coaches, 13 players, limited support staff and two senior managers on the road trips, Sullivan and Diamantopoulos have become a part of the team.
"Just because of the personalities we have, it's been a lot of fun," admits Sullivan.
As both seniors look back on their three-plus years in the manager program, they agree the rewards go far beyond the halftime speeches and the scholarships available. Diamantopoulos participated in football and baseball during high school, but after undergoing knee surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament, he had to find other ways to stay involved with sports.
"When I got the letter my freshman year, it was the nicest thing because you can still be very involved without having the obvious athletic requirements for it. It's a great opportunity to simply just stay involved in sports."
"The way I look at it, we've received a great deal through the job, but the people we've met and the friends we've made are most important," explains Sullivan.
Priceless experiences, long-lasting friendships and the opportunity to live sports - all courtesy of a simple letter.