The Terps’ basketball student managers, in their red-collared Under Armour shirts tucked into black pants, Gatorade bottles and towels at the ready, work hard to make sure that the team can focus on playing, at home and away.
Head student manager Benjamin Eidelberg of Pikesville is in charge of making things run. Whether it’s putting out the players’ gear, filling Gatorade coolers or placing a bubble on top of a hoop for box-out drills, Eidelberg and his team of 11 student managers make sure it gets done on time and to the liking of head coach Mark Turgeon.
“We’re here an hour to an hour-and-a-half before practice starts to make sure anything [the team] needs for practice is ready, so when it comes to practice time, it’s not, ‘Oh, wait we need this.’ It’s already there,” said Eidelberg.
Becoming head manager of a Division I basketball team is an earned position. Eidelberg, who celebrated his bar mitzvah at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, began his journey during his senior year at McDonogh School when he chose to intern with the NBA’s Washington Wizards for six weeks.
That experience helped him when a month into his freshman year at the University of Maryland, Eidelberg applied to be a part of the student management team. His official assignment was to record practices, sitting up in Section 215 of the Xfinity Center by himself capturing footage.
His duties have since been taken over by student managers Chris Shields, sophomore, and Alex D’alessio, freshman; they assist video coordinator Jonathan Trock, who hails from Scarsdale, N.Y., where his family attends Temple Israel Center in White Plains.
Each year, Eidelberg took on more responsibilities until, as ranking senior, he was named head student manager.
But the title is bittersweet.
“Honestly, it would have been Zach,” he said referring to his friend Zach Lederer, who passed away last year after a second battle with brain cancer. The “Zaching” pose he inspired went viral as everyday people, athletes and even ESPN commentators posted photos of their strong man pose. A mural in Lederer’s honor adorns the wall of the manager’s room.
Eidelberg takes the role seriously, at home and on the road. When the Terps travel they take three student managers. Eidelberg, who admits to having some influence, tries to divide up the road games fairly so managers who have put in their time have an opportunity to travel.
Trock, who graduated from the University of Miami in 2012, joined the Terps in fall 2013. Like Eidelberg, he took a similar route on his way to Hurricanes head manager. As the Terps’ video coordinator, it’s Trock’s job to cut five to 10 games down into 10-minute videos “to give our student-athletes as much information as possible without being overwhelming.” The student-athletes, in compliance with NCAA rules, review the footage with their coaches before practices.
“Coach Turgeon is very detailed, very meticulous,” said Trock. “He’ll ask for something and I’ll have no idea why he’s asking for it, but when he explains it to the team, he points out the smallest detail and I’ll understand why.”
To see players translate that information into a move during a Big Ten game is incredible to see, he added.
Being a part of the Big Ten has opened up new opportunities for the basketball staff, not just to see other courts and meet other managers, but to get in on the action, too. The Big Ten managers have a tradition of fielding five-on-five games, which they take quite seriously, tweeting out results as @B1GManagerHoops. As of Feb. 9, Maryland managers (@TerpsBballMgrs) rank seventh with a 4-3 record.
“Our first trip, we got to Michigan State and I heard that one of their managers asked if we wanted to play,” said Eidelberg. “We played, Juan played, some of the [graduate assistants] played.”
Juan, of course, referred to the legendary Maryland alumnus of the 2002 championship team, Juan Dixon.
“When Juan became more involved with the team, it was like, ‘Wow, this is Juan Dixon,’” said Eidelberg. “In my mind, he’s been the face of Maryland basketball.”
He added, “I remember the first time I played against him, I went home, I texted my parents and my friends that I played with Juan Dixon. Now it’s just normal. My childhood hero and I can talk like normal [people].”
Dixon and the coaches have a great relationship with the student managers, which has carried over to the players, Eidelberg emphasized.
“You’re not on the team, but you’re a part of the team,” he said. “They’re very cohesive, very welcoming. It’s not just, ‘Oh, these are the managers who are supposed to be doing stuff for us.’ They treat us as equals.”