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Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

The Schedule of Athletes Who Don’t Wear Jerseys

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Invaluable members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams 

In the midst of successful basketball seasons for both the men’s and the women’s teams, it is easy to pass by players on the way to class and congratulate them on a great game. However, there are three individuals who coaches have called “invaluable” over the past four years to their teams that have never played even a minute. These individuals are student managers, Clarke Allen ‘19, Will Stigall ‘19 and Aaliyah Jones ’19.  

Clarke Allen and Will Stigall have been student managers for the Wofford men’s basketball team since their freshman years. Allen was a family friend of Coach Young’s and attended Wofford basketball games when she was growing up. She met the previous men’s basketball manager in high school and thought it would be a fun job to have since she loved sports and being around them. Allen also originally planned to go into the field of operations and finance with athletics after graduation, so she thought working as a manager for the team would be a great opportunity. She spoke to Coach Young about the job and was hired. Stigall knew that he wanted to be involved in college basketball no matter what school he attended, since he eventually planned to coach basketball.  

Aaliyah Jones has been a student manager for the Wofford women’s basketball team since her freshman year. Jones loves sports and knew that she wanted to continue being involved in some capacity in college. When she applied to Wofford, she initially did not want to attend. However, in high school Jones worked at Chick-fil-A where the then-assistant coach for the Wofford women’s basketball team was the manager. This assistant coach offered her the job as a manager if she were to attend Wofford, so she took it upon committing to attend the college. When Coach Garrity was hired Jones’s sophomore year, she met with him and he asked her to continue being the team manager.  

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For the men’s basketball team, Allen handles operational needs, such as leading study hall, helping players find tutors and making their schedules. She says that she helps with their individual needs outside of basketball. Stigall is in charge of the athletic “side” of things, since that aligns more with his interests. Together, they do laundry on the road, run errands, grocery shop, pick up people from the airport and anything else that is needed. Jones has similar responsibilities for the women’s basketball team. 

“I consider myself to be a mom, so anything that the players need from just checking in on them when they’re injured to finding lost socks or laundry. I help with practice and game stuff. I’ve even spoken with potential recruits and their parents. Anything the players or coaches need, I am there to help,” said Jones.  

Jones, Allen and Stigall reminisced on their individual experiences as managers, recounting some of their favorite memories over the past four years. Stigall said that that senior night was probably one of his favorite memories because it was the culmination of everything.  

“Senior night was my final home game as a manager. My family was able to come, which meant the world, and getting to go out on a 30-point win against the second-best team in the conference was a great finish. Being able to share this final home game experience with the guys I started with four years ago and Clarke was incredible. It was definitely a game I’ll never forget,” said Stigall.  

Allen agreed that senior night was a great night, but one of her top memories happened at practice. Clarke said that every once in a while, during a conditioning practice, Coach Young will call up her or Will to shoot a free throw. If they make it, the boys can stop running, but if they miss, the boys continue with conditioning. Clarke said that all three times she has been called up to shoot a free throw in the past four years, she has made it. Will noted she has a better free throw percentage in practice than even Fletcher Magee. Clarke said that this is one of her favorite memories because the players have never been that excited concerning something she did for them. 

“I can’t help with anything basketball wise, but I bought into the program and the guys, who they are as people. I’ve invested in the players and the coaches. As a manager, you are sometimes unappreciated, but when they do take the time to recognize and appreciate you it means the world. They’re my best friends and I couldn’t imagine doing life without them. I’m not ready to leave them,” said Clarke.   

Aaliyah also loved senior night because at that point, she said that the women’s team had won every home game except for one. However, Aaliyah’s favorite memory was at the beginning of this season: the players thought it would be funny for Aaliyah to dress out for practice, so she got random practice gear from players—shoes from one, a headband from another and socks from yet another. Aaliyah showed up to practice that day decked out in gear and was able to participate in a few drills.  

Over the past four years, the managers have continued to stay involved and passionate about their respective programs. In their words, they’ve “bought into their programs” and truly believe in the players and teams. They’ve all become attached and cannot imagine their collegiate experiences at Wofford having not been involved with their teams in the capacity they have been.   

The Wofford men’s basketball coaching staff all spoke highly of both Will and Clarke.  

“Our staff is just as concerned about replacing Will and Clarke as we are our graduating seniors. They have been exceptional. They are both wonderful people that work really hard to make us all look good. They have been important members of our organization since they got to campus 4 years ago,” said Mike Young, head Wofford men’s basketball coach. 

“People have no idea how much these two have meant to our program. They not only help on the court, but they help our guys off the court with things that we, as a staff, do not take for granted.  I can’t even begin to explain how much these two will be missed.  They are a big reason why we are having the success we are right now and that is not an exaggeration,” said Kevin Giltner, assistant men’s basketball coach. 

The Wofford women’s basketball coaching staff and players also praised Aaliyah, naming her as an invaluable member of the women’s basketball program.  

 “When I think of Aaliyah, I think of the quote from Maya Angelou, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Aaliyah brought passion, compassion, humor and style to our program. She was more than a student-manager and this program will be better because she was a part of it,” said Coach Bunn, assistant Wofford women’s basketball coach.  

Caption: The Wofford men’s and women’s basketball managers. Left to right: Clarke Allen’19 , Will Stigall ‘19 and Aaliyah Jones ’19. 

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