Do you realize how close minded you are? Here’s how I figured out how close minded I was. I started saying YES to everything.
About 2 years ago, I made the choice to study abroad. Being born and raised in Montana, I loved it. I loved the outdoors, and the opportunity of adventure at any point. What I didn’t realize was this was the ONLY thing I knew. I always deemed Montana, Missoula specifically, as a place where most people are well rounded people, and I think relatively, they may be. However, staying in one place your whole life can be very toxic.
I moved to Australia around two years ago, but not just to Australia, but to one of the biggest foreign exchange schools in the world. When I met people of new and different cultures, I noticed immediately the assumptions I made, and how quickly I again banded myself with people similar to myself. I hated myself for it. I understand this is a natural human function, but as I noticed it happening to me, I brainstormed how to break myself away from it. What I did was, I started saying yes to everything. When someone asked me to do something, or an opportunity presented itself, or some random person on the street asked me to talk, I would always say yes, and I held myself to it. I started saying yes to opportunities I, in the past, would have turned down immediately for reasons to do with pride, fear, etc.
I very quickly saw the change it made, and yes, I did have the occasional situations I definitely should have said no to. But in the long run, I saw myself becoming a much more experienced, well rounded, and cultured person. I started going places, eating things, and hanging out with people I would have never before. It was absolutely liberating and I’m so glad I did it. I saw it as “going with the flow”, and instead of doing that with my own interest in mind, I truly did whatever opportunity came to me. I put myself in danger, in so many awkward situations, but overall, experienced life as it came to me. I made way more friends than I ever would have, and experienced life lessons at a much faster rate than I previously would have. Free yourself, open your mind, SAY YES!!
To start, remember that you have got this! You are starting an adventure that will have lasting impacts on you and your family, regardless of your starting support network size. You can do this.
Here are a few tips to make the transition a little less stressful as you go back to school:
Start Building a Support Network
The more support you have through your college experience, even if it is just for yourself, the better it will be in the long run for you and your kids. We’ll talk about some support network ideas for the kids in just a moment.
Begin in your school’s student success center. In the business school, they have been a great resource for me. They have assisted me with my resume and they have been an encouragement for so much of the hard steps.
They even made a way for me to have access to career fairs that would have been difficult to attend with my daughter. The first semester of the evening career fair, they even offered to watch her! The second semester, they asked a MISA (Management Information Student Association) member to watch children for the event. That is an amazing resource! They have been incredibly good to me. They would not have known my need, however if I had not taken the first step to meet with them.
Meet with your Professors
I cannot stress enough how vital this is. Your professors want you to succeed and want to help you!
Every professor in and out of my major has been wonderful. I do feel like I was incredibly blessed haven chosen the MIS degree path. My professors have supported, encouraged, given hard advice, and pushed me to be the best I could be and not limit myself because of the fact that I am a single mom and a non-traditional student. I have signed a contract for an amazing career, before I graduate, because of my professors.
They did things that made it easier for me to succeed. For example, I brought my daughter to class on the days when she was out of school in the middle of the week.
Here is the truth though, I emailed or talked to my professors to make sure it was okay to bring her with me. I never wanted them to think I took it for granted and I wanted them to have an option to say no. They have never not allowed me to bring her with me. Every time I have needed to bring my daughter, all of my professors have been gracious towards me and her.
Do Not Limit Yourself to Just Your College
Ask about resources that will help you succeed in your learning and then follow up and utilize them. Need help with writing? Go to the writing center. If you have a kid that is young enough to go to ASUM childcare, utilize that resource. If you need help with almost any high fail rate class, there is a study jam or tutoring to be found in the evenings or in the Lomasson building.
The generosity of faculty, staff and other students, was one of the things that most surprised me in this experience as a non-traditional single parent student.
Support For Your Child
How Do You Balance Homework And Parenting?
My daughter was 8-years-old when I began school, so we were able to have conversations about what it was like to be in college from the start. We do a lot of talking through her feelings when it gets hard and she feels like she is not getting the level of attention that she needs. I try to be as validating as possible about how challenging it can be for her, too.
We make compromises as well. So, for example, I will set a timer for ten minutes and I will stop working on homework once that goes off just to be present with her. I will sometimes set another timer to know when to get back to my assignments.
How Do You Handle Out Of School Days While Still Having Class?
I typically take my daughter with me. She gets screen time during the classes, which is a treat for her. Plus, I let her know that I am excited that she gets to attend class with me. Like I said before, my professors have been very kind to her and I have also found that other students make her feel welcome to be in the class.
Another option, here in Missoula, are drop-in daycare centers. The one that I will use on occasion is very loving and my daughter feels safe there.
How Do You Handle Your Child Being Sick?
The university does not have a great solution for sick kids. However, after growing my friend base and support group, I have found that there are some faculty, staff and other students are willing to help me and not just from my own college. I have also found that my professors have been very understanding through the process of having a sick child. So seriously, talk to your professors!
The building of a support network is very important to your success as a student. I believe that if you are willing to put yourself out there and be friendly, you will be able to have the support group that you need. I have found that the University of Montana’s faculty, staff and students are an incredible group of people that, on the whole, want to be in your corner as you pursue your educational goals!
Mandy Fischer is a single parent to an amazing 10-year-old daughter. She will be graduating the Spring of 2020 from the University of Montana with a Business Management Information Systems degree. She recently accepted a position with Deloitte that begins after graduation and is excited for the future!
Montana, the Big Sky State, is home to some of the most beautiful photography spots in the world. Many of these underrated views are within an hour drive from Montana’s second largest city, Missoula. Here are a few of my favorite Missoula spots:
Mount Sentinel “M” Trail
This is probably the most iconic of Missoula views. The trailhead for the widely popular “M” Trail is right on campus, and a 30-minute hike will give you some of the best views possible of the valley.
2. Mount Jumbo
The Mount Jumbo hike is a bit longer than the “M” Trail, but certainly worth it for a lesser known lookout of the city.
3. Blue Mountain Recreation Area
Blue Mountain is a great area for a morning dog walk or a round of frisbee golf. This beautiful area is just a 10-minute drive from the city and has some amazing views of the South Hills.
4. Pattee Canyon
The Pattee Canyon road goes from the southeast corner of Missoula all the way to Bonner, Montana. Just be careful on the roads in winter.
5. “Top of the World”
“Top of the World” is the easiest of these spots to access. Simply drive all the way up Whitaker Drive and loop back down on Spanish Peaks Drive. Make sure to check out this view before the area is completely covered in real estate developments.
The majority of people hear the job
title “basketball manager” and instantly think of a water boy who does laundry
but, it is way more than that. Student basketball managers are the back bone to
any successful program. They are the people who are first in the office and the
last to leave. They are the ones who show up to practice a whole hour before
anyone else. The people who strive to be a student basketball manager want only
one thing… and it is not the glamour but, it is to see the players and the team
“People look at managers and they think of guys getting balls and water. The reality is that the manager is managing the program. They’re putting in as many hours as anyone else, and they’re as valuable as anyone in the program because they’re the liaison between the student-athlete and the staff.” – Travis DeCuire (Montana Head Coach)
The real MVP’s in student managers come at the mid-major level. The level of college basketball where the talent and expectations are the same as those at the high major level. The manager staffs at the mid-major realms are quite a bit smaller because of school size and budget. The normal manager staffs at the high major level have an average of 8-12 managers and travel somewhere from 5-6 managers. Compared to the mid-major level, have staffs from 1-5 managers and travel 0-2 managers.
For most managers they are on complete staffs. Meaning, they have a coaching staff that completes each role. But for Montana the role of Director of Basketball Operations has fallen on a manager over the past 2 seasons.
For myself being a manager at the University of Montana it has been a HUGE advantage to be at the mid-major level in my college career. Over the past 5 years I have been behind the scenes for the Griz and mastering every trait that has come my way. I have been thrown some ridiculous tasks and tremendous responsibilities.
When I first came in to college
basketball, I had to send email after email to the former Director of
Basketball Operations for the Griz until I was given an opportunity to prove my
worth. I had to tryout at that year’s basketball summer camps as a camp coach. This
story has a twist to it that is very common in college athletics, a coaching
change. The summer I was auditioning to become a manager for Montana the entire
staff left for Oregon State and a new staff came in. With the unknown of whether
or not I would still have the same opportunity or not I introduced myself as if
I was going to be a part of the team.
Entering season number one and not knowing what to expect from being a student manager and still not knowing what will be expected of me I took all tasks to the best of my ability. Being under a tremendous Head Manager, Kramer Ungaretti, and learning under him and the new staff that was more technology driven than the last. It led me to wanting to pursue a job in basketball front office. I would spend the next 2 years being a student manger and have the tasks of; assisting in creating graphics for recruits, updating recruiting records, setting up practice, assisting in practice, film setup, managing and clipping film, assisting ordering team meals, sending weekly mailouts, and yes, I also was getting water while wiping up sweat from the floor. These tasks helped me form into taking over the head manager position once Ungaretti graduated.
Year three ended up being the year of the most growth. I stepped into the role of Head Manager and brought on more responsibilities. I moved into my own desk into the coach’s offices, where I shared with an assistant coach. I was in the office, FINALLY! In a way for a young professional to be given their own space in a work place that they have always dreamed of working, gave me a peace of mind. I wanted to prove myself and prove that I can fill the shoes of my predecessor and not let the team feel like they took a step backwards. My advice to current and potential managers is to “strive to be the first one in and the last one out” as this has helped me excel in ranks. My family has taught hard work and they believe you have to start from the ground up to really know the industry. The year of being a head manager I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the team and see what it takes for a mid-major team to travel on a more minimal budget. Traveling with the team has taken me to some remarkable areas. Areas like Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and across the United States. For this year I was still doing all the same tasks as I was before but was granted more advanced tasks. I was in charge of all meals on the road and assisted the Ops with anything else that was needed for travel. I was also the head of Team Communication, was in constant communication with the entire team on upcoming events, travel, academic meetings and community outreach programs. I continued to develop as a video coordinator and started making my own highlight films for the team.
I also spent hours in assisting the coaching staff with scouts and other projects. One skill that a majority of managers overlook is the use of Photoshop. Photoshop is a skill that can put you over the top as a manager. Having the capability of making graphics and other informative tools will separate you and make you more widely used.
Jumping forward to my last two years of being a student basketball manager, I moved into the role of Director of Operations. Not holding the title as the teams Director of Operations but having the majority of the tasks. As the last two seasons I planned all of the team’s travel. Everything from booking flights, hotels, bus transportation, scheduling of away facilities, head coach recruiting travel and team meals. All while keeping track of the team’s budget. I also keep numerous statistics. I keep track of the teams plus/minus, shot charts, teams passing shot percentage, defense and offense efficiency, hustle chart, and the teams different lineups used in a game with how they performed.
For managers it is a very competitive environment and the managers that do not focus on the glam are those who are in it for a career. Managers take this job seriously. You will not find many individuals sprinting to wipe up sweat on the floor or running to give a head coach a board. You always need to be aware of what is going on as a manager and be on edge during every aspect. It is a thankless job. Managers develop skills in all aspects of the basketball world. They become masters at crafts that have nothing to do with basketball. As an Assistant Coach at Montana, Coach Flores, has said to me, “this job is 80% organization/hard work, 15% completing tasks, and 5% basketball”. Summer camps are the bread and butter for managers. They are typically asked to show off their leadership and at some schools run the entire camp. Being a camp counselor all the way to a camp director has taught me the most. The amount of planning and detail you need for a camp is quite extensive. It is a job that takes multiple people and multiple departments throughout the University to make it successful. Not to mention the leadership it takes to speak in front of hundreds of kids and get all their attention and instruct them to do something can be overwhelming for first timers and will take some time to fully develop. As I have mentioned many tasks above, there are so much more that a manager does to help aid the coaching staff and do not forget they are still full time students.
The 4 C’s of Being a Great College Basketball Manager:
Commitment, Communication, Consistency, Common Sense
* To the JOB
* To your TEAM
* To the SCHEDULE
* With your BOSSES
* With your COACHES
* With your TEAM
* With your fellow MANAGERS
* In your ACTIONS
* In your APPEARANCE
4. COMMON SENSE
* With the KEYS
* With the EQUIPMENT
* When TRAVELING
With being a part of a small staff and having full time responsibilities at such a young age for a program that is on the rise, I have gathered so much information that has set me up for a bright future. With a mid-major staff, the majority of them are guys who are from the DII ranks or high major teams, they offer a verity of connections for you to network with. With the specific staff at the University of Montana and the other coaches that have moved onto other programs their connections and experiences are impressive. There have been peaks and valleys to this whole process and I am eternally grateful for what the University of Montana, the Missoula community, current/past players, coaches, and Coach DeCuire have provided for me.
“It’s not an easy job to be successful with, and that’s why a lot of the better managers move on to high positions. Some of the best coaches were managers, because they realized that X’s and O’s aren’t always the biggest thing when it comes to managing basketball programs.” – Travis DeCuire
So instead of people looking for glamour, schools are looking for students who want to:
• Haul luggage onto buses and hotels in the late hours
• Fill and refill Powerade bottles
• Cut and edit film until
their eyes cross
• Chart hustle plays and
other obscure stats at games
• Work camps in the summer
• Sacrifice weekends and
holiday trips in exchange for practices
• Stand, just so far apart,
ball tucked under one arm, other arm on hip, towel over shoulder.
In other words, individuals who are willing to do just about whatever they are asked to do to make life easier for basketball players their own age. At the end of the road you will not want to replace it for anything else in the world. Best college job.
Quotes of Inspiration
“Don’t let the peaks and valleys get to you. Keep rolling.” – Chad Buchanan (Indiana Pacers GM)
“Rest at the end and not in the middle” – Mr. Fisk (Kobe Bryant’s English teacher)
“Inspire the people next to you, that is how you create greatness” – Kobe Bryant