While their team is struggling mightily, UConn football managers Bobby Cole and Nate Connors are still having the time of their lives.
The former Methuen High athletes travelled to Orlando for the Central Florida game a couple weeks back and today are leaving for Saturday’s game against Southern Methodist in Dallas.
“It’s definitely enjoyable,” said Cole, who has been Connors’ roommate all three years in Storrs. “We’ve been to some pretty cool places. This year has been more difficult (UConn is 0-8). It’s tough on everybody. But it’s fun. It’s still work but it feels like play.”
Connors said, “It’s great. There are a lot of interesting experiences you wouldn’t get otherwise. You are one of 11 guys (team managers) who get to travel around the country with the football team.”
Connors said you meet some famous people. He shook All-Pro receiver Brandon Marshall’s hand and got a thrill watching Patriots coach Bill Belichick at UConn’s Pro Day in the spring.
The managers get a small stipend but they certainly don’t do it for the money.
“It’s 35-40 hours a week,” explained Cole, a sports management major who would like to continue in the profession, perhaps for an NFL team, after graduating. “I love what I’m doing.”
Game days are marathons beginning six hours before kickoff.
The job entails doing laundry, organizing and repairing equipment, setting up the field for practice, moving equipment around during practice, setting up the sidelines for the coaches for games and providing footballs for the referees.
“It’s a lot of different things,” said Cole, who was a starter in football and baseball at Methuen.
Connors, who is studying to be a physician’s assistant, has a 3.3 GPA.
“It definitely takes some time management,” said Connors, who played golf, basketball and baseball in high school. “You get back at 7 p.m. then take a half hour to decompress.”
Cole became interested in becoming a manager during alternative spring break in New Orleans his freshman year. He met a manager there and the job sounded intriguing. He mentioned it to Connors and both scouted spring ball intently before signing on beginning the summer before their sophomore year.