At some point we all are forced to face reality: Not every high school athlete will receive a scholarship to play a sport in college. That doesn’t mean that the passion and love of sport fades away, it instead shifts to the role of adoring and dedicated fan or manager. 

Managers are a vital part of college athletics and can also be placed on scholarship or receive stipends. Essentially, their schedule is the same as student-athletes. Where a player must perform, a manager must provide anything and everything; set up for practice, take care of uniforms, film practices or games, that type of thing. For a high school athlete who wants to stay as close to the sport as possible even though they aren’t able to play for whatever reason, managing can be a great substitute. 

University of Maryland women’s basketball manager Elizabeth Ellis admits reaching the conclusion she wouldn’t be a college athlete wasn’t easy. “ My first thing was I kind of panicked. I remember the moment when I realized it, and it was just complete panic.  It was like everything I thought my life was going to be, my college career was going to be was not going to happen.  And you have to realize it and you have to just move on, you have to force yourself to move on.”

Moving on is exactly what she did. There was no doubt in Ellis’s mind that she would rather attend the University of Maryland as a “norm” instead of playing for a Division III school.

The itch to play or at least be close to the game after three years as a varsity athlete at Einstein in Kensington wouldn’t subside without a fight.  

“In my first week here, I kind of just took a leap of faith and walked into the office one day I didn’t know anybody and I just said, ‘Do you guys need managers? Is there anything I can do?’ ” 

Ellis filled out some paperwork, and eventually was given the position. Three years later, the senior kinesiology major has no regret  

“Manager wasn’t my number one choice. . . but now its the best thing I could have done. [You have to be] open and able to not have tunnel vision and see other things you might want to do and not [be] afraid to ask people if they need help.” 

Basketball, football, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, . . . they are all team sports. Yes, there are players that make up the team that compete on the floor, but coaches and managers are apart of the team that make up the organization. 

Katherine DeStefano was my manager for three out of my fours years as a player at Georgetown. Unlike Ellis, she knew she wouldn’t be able to play college ball due to health reasons. She worked with her high school coach to impress college coaches that visited to see potential recruits.  Her plan worked and worked well, I know I benefitted from having her at Georgetown.   

“It’s hard work, but it was a great experience for me because I still got to be involved with what I love,” reflects DeStefano, in her second year at Fordham law school. 

For individuals like Ellis and DeStefano, the dream of being a college athlete was diverted and not differed. They play or played a vital role in their organizations. 

Just because you may not be fortunate enough to play at your dream school doesn’t mean you can’t keep the passion for your sport alive.  College athletics are a business and there are many more components than just players; if you really want to stay connected you’ll find a way.

About Transition Game

Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports

Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.



Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)

The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)

Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)

Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)

Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)

Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)

College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)

Navigating the recruiting process: “Get a clue, control your career” (Oct. 18, 2011)

Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)

Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)