By Joshua Decker
Every season, the Cedarville basketball teams suit up for their seasons with the players and coaches garnering the spotlight. However, one group rarely sees the spotlight. Nevertheless, it is a valuable part of the team: student assistants.
Student assistants, SAs for short, are students who volunteer their time to help with the basketball team. Both the men’s and women’s team have a couple SAs to help in the 2019-20 season. Responsibilities for SAs include assignments in practices, games and traveling.
“I think the more help we have the better… they just bring a tremendous benefit from all the other things you can get done for your team,” said men’s head coach Pat Estepp.
Senior Seth Dittmer added that student assistants make sure that the players do not have to worry about minor details: “They take care of a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.”
During practices, student assistants are responsible for helping wherever the coaches need them. Generally, this means handling all clock responsibilities, which includes keeping the team on schedule for practice, keeping score in drills, and managing the shot clock.
Additionally, SAs may be called to assist with passing, shooting, or rebounding drills. One other important element of practices is video.
“Getting practice video is huge, because you get a chance to evaluate on the fly with guys, and they don’t always get to see that,” Estepp said.
Sophomore forward Kollin Van Horn echoed the importance of student assistants at practice: “SAs have helped so much for our team since I’ve been here. They make practice easier on everyone while doing little things.”
Student assistants may also travel with the team to games throughout the season. One of the most crucial elements of team travel is coordinating food. SAs are in charge of ordering food for the players and keeping the orders organized for the team.
Junior SA for the women’s team, Daria Boboc, said she’s had to scramble to pick up subs for the entire team before.
It is not just food, however, that student assistants handle on road trips. Making sure that the team’s gear is packed and organized for the trip is imperative. Practice and game jerseys, as well as anything else the team needs, must be kept track of throughout the entire trip. Pregame preparation for SAs includes gathering film for scouting, and preparing that film for the coaches to go over with the players. In addition, a camera must be set up to record the game, which allows the coaches instant access to game film following the matchup.
Student assistants not only benefit the coaches and players, however.
“Hopefully we benefit them if they want to coach down the road, and they’ve got some experience watching that and seeing it, and learning drills, and being a part of it,” Estepp said.
Former student assistant Trey Barnes, who graduated from Cedarville in 2018, pointed out the impact helping the basketball team had on him.
“I would say the most beneficial thing I learned while being a student assistant is how to be flexible with my time and the tasks presented before me,” he said.
Barnes also noted the importance of that flexibility: “[I learned to] understand that if things had to change, they could for the good of the team and the coaches.”
Assistants also get the opportunity to develop relationships with the players and join the brotherhood that the team provides.
“It is also great to have another guy along that enjoys the hard work, even when it may go unnoticed to people not in the program,” Kollin Van Horn said.
His teammate, forward Quinton Green, also acknowledged the significant impact that student assistants have had on him.
“SAs have been really good encouraging guys for me over my three years, and I can’t wait to continue to encourage them,” he said.
The relationships made between the players, coaches, and student assistants really speaks to the incredible culture that has been created by the program.
If Cedarville men’s basketball did not have the luxury for student assistants, Estepp said, “We would not get certain things done… because we wouldn’t have the manpower or the ability to do it.”
Joshua Decker is a sophomore Sport Business Management major. He enjoys playing basketball, cheering for the Detroit Lions despite countless losing seasons and watching “National Treasure” over and over again.