The Harvard squash team poses with its student managers.

Heartbeat Heroes: Varsity Team Managers

By Callum J. Diak and Katharine Forst, Crimson Staff Writers
The Harvard squash team poses with its student managers. By Courtesy of Harvard Athletics

Often considered “the heartbeat of the team,” team managers play an integral role in varsity sports. The team manager works alongside the coaching staff and players to ensure that a program runs as smoothly as possible. While an important role, managers are sometimes overlooked in athletics. The Crimson sat down with four exemplary managers from Harvard’s basketball, lacrosse, and squash programs to find out more about what it’s like to hold this position.


Upon arriving at Harvard, Rebecca knew that she wanted to play a role as a team manager for the men's basketball team.
Upon arriving at Harvard, Rebecca knew that she wanted to play a role as a team manager for the men's basketball team. By Courtesy of Greg Sabin

Under Assistant Coach Mike Sotsky — a former senior manager for the Duke 2015 NCAA championship men’s basketball team and a co-recipient of the Gopal Varadhan Award, presented annually to the program’s top upperclassman manager — the Harvard men’s basketball program has established a dedicated squad of student managers. While the program didn’t see postseason action, falling just short of the Ivy League tournament, it posted a winning season for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons. Junior Rebecca Solomon, alongside her other managers, devoted countless hours to helping the team succeed, arriving at Lavietes Pavilion thirty minutes early for each practice and two hours early for each game to ensure that the team would have to focus on nothing more than coming out of each game victorious.

Q: What made you want to be a manager ?

Rebecca: I've always really loved basketball. I was a team manager for my high school boys varsity team. I used to play basketball, and I got some concussions in middle school, so I stopped playing. But, I still wanted to be involved in the sport. And so when I got to Harvard, I texted Howard Johnson, who I know had been a manager for the basketball team, and reached out to the coaches, and then I just started doing it.

Q: What does your day to day look like ?

Rebecca: When I go to practice, I get there thirty minutes before the players. We sweep the court, fill up water bottles, get the balls out, and then help to rebound once the boys start filing into the gym. Someone will help out with the clock, someone will stand with towels and balls just during practice. So, that would be a typical practice. And then for games, we'll get there two hours before, set up the court kind of in the same way, prepare the locker room, and then just be there on hand. And then travel. We travel along with them, load the bus, and do all that stuff.

Q: Basketball has a pretty storied managerial program. How does that intensity shape your approach to the role?

Rebecca: The head assistant coach Mike Sotsky was manager at Duke when he went there. So, I think that he's always recognized managers as a really important part of the program based on his background, and made a really large effort to foster that community where it really is like a team separate from the team. We have our own team of managers. And so I think that just the collective buy in. I also think it helps that basketball is a small team as well, and so you really do get to immerse yourself in that. Because it's such a small group, the managers really feel like they have a large part of that.

Q: Athletes always call their managers the heartbeat of the program. How do you think you keep the program moving?

Rebecca: I think that the biggest thing on the first level is just making sure that they don't have to worry about any of the logistics. When they're playing in the game, they should have their water, and they shouldn't have to be thinking about getting the water, and that kind of stuff. So, just making sure that the main focus of the athletes is playing so they don't have to worry about any of the logistics. And then also, just in terms of culture, I think it's important to be a good vibe, a good energy. Keep the culture alive too, especially since you're not playing, it's easier to make sure you're bringing good vibes.


Former men's lacrosse player Justin Glod reflects on his time with the team.
Former men's lacrosse player Justin Glod reflects on his time with the team. By Courtesy of Dylan Goodman/Harvard Athletics

For the second time in the past three seasons, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team posted a winning season. Under Frisbie Family Head Coach Gerry Byrne, the team went toe-to-toe with the top teams in the nation and capitalized on the prowess of its seven All-Ivy honorees, the most the team has seen since 2014. Led on the attack by Sam King, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, the program saw glimpses of greatness over the course of the spring. While Byrne and his coaching staff were instrumental in leading the team to victories, the dedication of its student managers ensured that the players could thrive on the field without having to worry about logistics. Senior Justin Glod, a former member of the program, and sophomore Crimson Sports Board editor Hugo Nunez worked to create a precedent of hands-on team management in a role that had previously been undefined. The two worked practices, games, and traveled with the squad, integrating themselves into the framework of the program as not just managers, but as teammates.

Q: What made you want to be a manager ?

Justin: So for some backstory, I was on the team up until junior year. I quit because of injuries and other personal reasons, but after some time, I felt that I'd be remiss if I didn't try to contribute to the team in some way, and be involved in the sport that's given me so much. And I felt like a managerial role was a great way to fulfill that. But also, being on the team, I had a ton of respect for managers to begin with. They do a lot of things behind the scenes just to make sure that the stress level of the team stays low, and that they can just focus on getting better and winning games. I felt that I knew the team, I knew what was going on day in and day out, and I could fit that role very well. And it's been an overall super positive experience.

Q: There isn’t much of a storied history of managers for the lacrosse team, how has your role with the team evolved?

Justin: I look up to Michael Calabro, who was a senior when I was a freshman. I also look up to Michael Binkowski, who is a senior right now. Those guys had the opposite route that I did, going from managerial roles to active player roles. And I really commend them and everything that they put into the team, and how much they contributed. And it really gave me inspiration to do the same and I know those guys were battling for a roster spot. However, it was still commendable, how hard they worked, just to make sure that the team was ready to go and how passionate they were for it. And I think I've brought that same passion every day.

Q: Athletes always call their managers the heartbeat of the team. How do you think you keep the program moving?

Justin: I think the biggest way that us managers do that is just making sure that the focus of the team and the coaches is only on the game, not around how we're getting there, or what hotel we're gonna stay in. Really just being able to go out there and play on the field. And then us on the back end, you know, we're helping the team in other ways too, we're taking stats, we have live replays, just to make things more efficient for the coaches so that they can analyze the team quicker and, and make adjustments quicker. And overall, I think it helps improve our team. And so I think it is a little bit of a behind the scenes role, but I will say that every person on the team has done an awesome job of making me feel like I'm helping contribute to the team in some way and then I'm making an impact.

Q: What has been the best thing you’ve learned from being a manager rather than a player?

Justin: That everybody plays a role. I realize that some days, my role is small and other days, my role is very important. And that it's important to be ready every day. And, although it's tempting to go out there and mess around with my friends, and have fun and just goof around, I know that the goal is a lot bigger than that. And so I respect that out of them. So, a newfound respect for everything that goes into the program and how serious it's taken.

As a sophomore manager, Hugo revealed the vast responsibility he has in helping to keep the program running.
As a sophomore manager, Hugo revealed the vast responsibility he has in helping to keep the program running. By Courtesy of Hugo Nunez

Q: What made you want to be a manager?

Hugo: It was a pretty obvious decision for me to become a manager. I played lacrosse all throughout high school, and then when I got to Harvard, my club coach reached out to me and said that he knows one of the Harvard coaches and he could help me work with the team. So, pretty much right when I got on campus, I started working with Harvard lacrosse. I think before classes even started, I was out there, which was really fun and interesting.

Q: What do you do during practices? How do you help the team?

Hugo: I do whatever is asked of me, whether that’s helping toss a ball or taking stats or recording or moving things around, organizing, I do whatever I can to help the team move forward and be the best team it can be.

Q: What has been the best thing you’ve learned from being a manager?

Hugo: The best thing I learned as a team manager is what it takes to actually be a high-level student athlete at a place like Harvard. Coming into college, I was thinking about playing lacrosse, but not Harvard, obviously, at other places. And, just seeing the amount of time the student athletes spend at practice and then at school, seeing them locked in both on and off the field, it has been insane to me to see how these people balance their lives.

Men’s Squash

Junior Drew Hesp lauded the way that the men's squash team has made him feel like not just a manager, but a member of the squad.
Junior Drew Hesp lauded the way that the men's squash team has made him feel like not just a manager, but a member of the squad. By Courtesy of Harvard Athletics

Harvard men’s squash had a challenging year. Coming off of an exceptional 2022-23 season when the Crimson went undefeated, claiming both the Ivy League title and the national championship, there were a lot of expectations for Harvard’s squash program. Despite losing some key players, the Crimson still entered this year ranked second in the country. Harvard started the season off hot with a six-game winning streak, including a commanding win over No. 3 Yale. Hopes of a repeat championship seemed within reach but midway through the season the momentum shifted during a tough stretch of competition. The defending champions fell in three consecutive contests to Trinity College, Princeton, and UPenn. Harvard got back to its winning ways with four-straight-wins to close out the season, but it was too little too late to clinch the Ivy League crown. Regardless of the disappointing results, the Crimson has lots to build off of from this season. And amid all the development and change that has taken place in a very storied squash program, there has been a constant hidden behind the scenes. Alongside Gregory Lee ʼ87, Russell Ball ʼ88 Coach Mike Way, and the rest of the coaching staff, is junior Drew Hesp. For the past three years, Hesp has worked with men’s squash as the program’s team manager. Hesp’s tenure as manager has seen Harvard win an Ivy League title and two CSA National Championships.

Q: What got you interested in managing a team at Harvard?

Drew: I really loved sports back in high school and obviously being on the player end of that was a great experience for me. And so I came into college and one of the things I felt like I was going to miss a lot was getting to still have that experience of being with the team and going to games and things like that. And so early on, I heard the squash captains are looking for a team manager and I was really interested. And so I met with the captains Sam and Marwan and talked to them about it. And it just sounded like a great opportunity to stay somewhat involved in the sport even without being on the playing end. I started doing it freshman year, really loved it, and have been doing it ever since.

Q: What's it like working with Mike Way?

Drew: Mike is incredible. I’ve played a lot of different sports, and met a lot of coaches. He’s definitely just a level above. You can tell from talking with him, he really cares about the players beyond just the level of being their coach. He really cares to make sure that everyone’s bought into the team, everyone feels like a comfortable contributing member of the team. There's a reason that he’s been such a successful coach and the greatest college squash coach we’ve seen. All those national championships really go back to him making that effort to understand his players in a way that I've never seen another coach be able to do.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a team manager?

Drew: I think it's just been getting to grow tight with the guys. That's what drew me into wanting to be a manager in the first place, was getting to stay within the squash community. And so, all the guys I've met, I think we have a great, great crew. I’ve spent a lot of time with them, whether it be at the courts or outside of the courts. I was really welcomed with open arms. I definitely consider a lot of them some of my closest friends. I get to, you know, grab meals with them, hang out with them outside of squash. Freshman year, I think the captains really made a conscious effort to include me in that team stuff. And so yeah, I've grown really tight with them. I’m very thankful I got to meet them.

—Staff writer Callum Diak can be reached at

—Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at

Year in SportsSports Features