When speaking to the media following the U-M men’s basketball win over Wisconsin on Jan. 12, coach Juwan Howard, ’94, gave a shoutout to the team’s staff. “But I give all the credit to the fellas, man. I mean players and staff. And our managers.” Among those managers is Jalen Massey, one of a group of students who play a critical role in the team’s success.
A senior majoring in sport management in the School of Kinesiology, Massey has been a student manager since the beginning of his sophomore year, when John Beilein was still the head coach. Particularly during the pandemic — which paused play for two weeks near the end of January — Massey and his colleagues have become an integral part of the team. Not only do they compete with them during practice, they assist the coaching staff by assessing future opponents.
Michigan Alumnus gleaned the following in a conversation with Massey.
AS A STUDENT MANAGER, Massey is always there to make sure practices and games run smoothly. Before each practice, he and the other managers set up drills and review the practice plan for the day. When practice begins, they get on the court to rebound or play defense. Off the court, they work in the film room, reviewing the games of opposing teams to prepare the players for their matchups. According to Massey, “no task too little” for a manager. “There are a lot of different jobs that need to get done, and sometimes you just have to go in there and knock them out without being asked.”
DUE TO COVID-19, this year the men’s basketball team has only nine student managers, a sizable reduction from the usual 20. The pandemic poses new challenges for Massey, who must wear a face mask throughout every practice and get tested six times a week. “If just three players or staff get coronavirus, we have to stop practicing and get shut down for a period of time,” Massey explains, adding that the quarantine period for players who test positive is between 10 and 14 days.
MASSEY GREW UP in Ann Arbor, just minutes from the U-M campus. He discovered his passion for sport management during his tenure as the manager of the Skyline High School varsity basketball team. After graduating, he attended Washtenaw Community College before being accepted into U-M’s class of 2021. “That was a big thing for me, when I got my acceptance letter,” Massey recalls. With financial help from the Alumni Association’s LEAD Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for underrepresented minorities who have been accepted into U-M, he was able to transfer his sophomore year. Massey also credits his recently deceased friend Mark Sumpter, who was a student at UM-Dearborn, for encouraging him to attend the University.
AFTER GRADUATION, Massey intends to continue working in sports, either in coaching or management. He is grateful for the opportunity to learn from the best, absorbing the leadership styles of both coach John Beilein and now coach Howard: “All the special skills and knowledge that I get to learn here, I hope will come with me when I pursue doing this professionally.”
Alexander Satola is a senior in LSA and a correspondent for The Statement, the magazine of The Michigan Daily.