The shadows of Friday night lights


Football managers work outside of the spotlight to do what they can to help the team

By Andrew Browning
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Ever since she was a little girl, the one thing that has always clicked in senior Jamelynn “Jaymo” Callahan’s life has been football. She was brought up with football, she understood the sport and, most of all, couldn’t get enough of it.

“I’ve always loved the sport of football. I grew up around it. My grandma practically raised me and my uncle was still in high school, and he was a tight end for his high school so I was around football players all the time, and I was comfortable around them,” Callahan said.

Callahan said she always wanted to be a part of a football team, and even though she doesn’t suit up in shoulder pads and a helmet every day at practice, she said she has found a role with the CHS team that she truly enjoys—working as a team manager.

“Sometimes I do (wish I could be playing football), but at the same time I love what I do,” Callahan said. “I’m well-respected by most of the players. They’re like my brothers, and most of the coaches respect me.”

Coach Mike Graham is Callahan’s boss, doubling as the Hounds’ kicking coach and equipment manager. Small by football standards, Graham worked as a team manager as a student at IU from 1998 to 2001. He’s in his fourth year with the team and is quick to sarcastically point out that he isn’t the typical equipment manager because “everywhere you go the equipment man is some old, fat guy named Russ or Gus.”

Although he’ll poke fun at the stereotype of his position, he won’t short-change the importance of the work that his team managers accomplish.

“Frequently before games (Head) Coach (Mo) Moriarity will say, ‘This whole team works incredibly hard.’ And that’s the trainers, that’s the managers, that’s the coaching staff, that’s the film guys, that’s everybody,” Graham said. “Believe it or not, (the managers) are actually at times putting more hours in. When I was at IU, we had longer hours than the players did.”

Callahan said her duties as team manager can often keep her at practice as late as 6:45 p.m. She said some of her duties as manager include cleaning jerseys, setting up the field for practice and running the play clock during practice. Although these jobs may not seem as important as those carried out by the players on the field, Callahan said she still feels like an integral member of the squad and described that as the most rewarding aspect of being a team manager.

“You get to be a part of the team. You make a lot of friends, you feel like you’re a part of something and that you’re actually needed. If you aren’t there one day people are asking where you’re at. I missed an entire week last year during football season and Coach Mo freaked out,” Callahan said. “When the head coach cares about you, that means you’re obviously a part of something.”

Callahan said that after four years as a manager, the connection with the players on the team runs deep. She said watching the Hounds lose their home-opener against Cathedral was especially difficult this season.

“Not only was it hard for me, but I got to see their raw emotions right after the game and that was extremely difficult,” Callahan said. “When we win we all feel so great about ourselves and our hard work we’ve put in.”

Although time is winding down for all of the Hounds’ seniors, Callahan said this won’t be her last season of football. She said she hopes to become a manager for the Ball State team next year.

“I’ve loved the sport since I was little,” Callahan said. “I’m not just going to drop it as soon as I finish high school.”

Graham said the fire that Callahan has brought to the team for the last four years is a critical element he looks for in students interested in becoming managers.

“You’ve got to be responsible, and you’ve got to love football,” Graham said. “Because if you don’t love football you don’t love this team and it’s going to get old quick.”