2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/20/2018 8:44 PM

With these key figures, Conant and Prospect will manage

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By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

Just as important to a high school basketball team's players are their managers.

True, they don't take the game-winning shot, hit key free throws or come up with a difference-making defensive play.

But the managers do so many of the other little things that don't appear in the box score that coaches such as Prospect's John Camardella and Conant's James Maley appreciate.

Meet Prospect Knight managers Jack Heiss, Sean Olson, and Peter Velic, and Conant four-year managers Morgan Suffredin and Daehong Kong.

Both groups are valuable to their respective teams, but in different ways.

The trio from Prospect takes a more tech-savvy path, working mainly with electronics, while the Conant duo is committed to old-style managing.

For the Knights, Olson is the eye in the sky, filming the entire game for the Knights. Heiss is responsible for the stat boards, which includes the shot charts, rebounding assists and steals. Velic is assistant coach Brad Rathe's right-hand man and films the defensive plays, which are shown at halftime at both home and away games.

"We have found great success with our managers," said Camardella. "When we talk to the students who are interested, we talk to them about their roles and what they have an interest in. We as coaches want them to be valued, and be valued as part of the team. Everything they do is vital for what we do in our games."

"I sit next to coach Rathe on the bench with my camera and I shoot the team when they are on defense," said Velic. "He will tell me when to clip a play to be shown to the team at halftime. I have a lot of friends on the team, and I felt this was something good to do."

Olson felt he hasn't good enough to make the team as a player but wanted to stay close to the game.

"I'm just a big fan of the game," said Olson. "I just do what I can by filming to help out the team."

Heiss showed interest in stats, and Camardella was happy to give him that responsibility.

"I didn't want to play anymore after freshman year," said Heiss. "Coach Camardella asked me to help out. I've been able to travel out of state, to University of Minnesota and St. Joseph's college in Pennsylvania, to do the stats at the summer camps. This has helped me stay close to the team."

Recently tetired coach Tom McCormack of Conant loved early 5:30 a.m. practices, which required the dedication of Suffredin and Kong. Maley is keeping the same concept.

"I have always said that it's hard to find good managers," said Maley. "It's like finding a good player for your team.

"Morgan and Daehong are here in the mornings and run the clock for the practices. Tom told me that in the three years he worked with them, that they would do whatever they asked. They've been doing it so long and know the routine."

Suffredin's older brothers Steve and Kevin were also managers for the Cougars.

"When coach McCormack found out that another Suffredin was enrolling at Conant, he asked me if I wanted to be a manager also," said Suffredin. "This was the first time we were asked to come to early practices."

Game nights are busy for Conant's managers, too.

"I make sure the players have their warmups ready," said Kong. "I make sure the cameras are set up for taping. Morgan and I have a good team concept for what we do."

A few weeks ago at Barrington, Kong did the scorebook, made sure the uniforms were ready and also watered the players during timeouts since Suffredin not able to make that contest. It went off without a hitch.

"I expressed a interest in junior high to be a manager at Conant, " said Kong. "My coach, Mr. Snyder, wrote a letter to coach McCormack recommending me to be a manger."

Under normal circumstances, Suffredin makes sure the team get water and towels during timeouts.

"It's important to make sure the players are watered and hydrated," said Suffredin. "Being a manger makes me proud of myself because I can do things to help the team."

"Morgan and Kong are really dedicated," said Maley. "They get up at 4:30 a.m. to get here and help the team. Last week we stopped practice and the coaches and players gave them a big ovation for the work that they put in."

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