Bureau Valley football manages just fine

What’s the most important position on a football team?

Coach? Quarterback? Every team needs good ones for sure.

Linemen, receivers, kickers, special teams? You can’t do without them.

For Bureau Valley, you have to look beyond the field to the kids behind the scenes — the managers.

Bureau Valley team managers have been integral parts of the program’s roots dating back to the days of Walnut High School prior to the consolidation in the mid-90s. This year’s trio of senior Madison Jaggers and sophomores Makenna Maupin and Ryley Egan are keeping up the tradition.

The Storm would be lost without them.

“They are the true unsung heroes of a football program. They are at every practice, have to show up early, stay late, organize and clean everything. And all for zero publicity or any of the glory,” Storm head coach Mat Pistole said. “We couldn’t function without them. We are very fortunate to have three great girls who are very invested in what we do and want to see us succeed as bad as any of the players.

“My favorite part is to see how much they are smiling and laughing at practice. They love being there and do a great job.

“We also have a lot of fun with them they provide some smiles, and occasionally, comic relief when we need it. They also take some good-natured ribbing from the coaches, but our boys treat them awesome and have a lot of respect for them.”

Pistole knows all about the manager tradition from the days of Walnut football. His aunt, Jodi Fritz, was manager for McKenzie and hooked Pistole up with a complete Warhawk uniform he wore for Halloween and spent the entire weekend all decked out playing football in the yard.

Jaggers, who’s also a part of the boys basketball team and plays softball, said their job can cover many bases, mainly getting the team ready to play or practice.

“Making sure all the boys got everything they need for both practice and games. During games, making sure the boys are hydrated and they’re OK physically,” she said, turning to announce to the team it was time to switch drills.”

Longtime BV assistant coach Craig Johnson said the Storm have had a lot of good managers through the years.

“They do an awesome job making sure everything is ready on game days sorting uniforms and gear, fill tons of water bottles to even fixing helmets. Madison Jaggers has gotten pretty good at repairs,” he said.

Sometimes the girls have to take care of the boys when they can’t take care of themselves.

“We have to make sure all the boys have all their gear, because a lot of times they forget stuff,” said Egan, who’s in her second season. “They’re very forgetful when they get to game day, because they get so hyped about it.”

The managers have proved to help in other ways. Johnson recalls how one former Storm manager, Hannah Johnston, helped talk her brother, Josiah, into coming out for football as a freshman, and became a BCR Co-Player of the Year.

“That worked out well for us,” Johnson said.

Maupin joined the team this year after being recruited by Johnson in his geography class last spring.

“Coach Johnson found my love for football, so he thought I’d be a great addition to the team. We had heated discussions over the NFL and offered me the opportunity, so I just went for it,” she said.

Johnson is a big Vikings fan while Maupin cheers for the Cowboys, but that’s OK, because they both love football.

The managers all love their jobs.

“Oh my gosh, it’s a blast. Best thing I could do,” Jaggers said.

“Just the atmosphere. It’s a great working environment. There’s never a dull moment, so I really enjoy it,” said Maupin, who’d like to continue managing in college.

“Being apart of the team and having all the connections with all the boys. I like being able to watch the games, watch them get excited,” Egan said.

One former Storm manager, Nikki Fromme, from the early 2000s went on to be manager at the University of Illinois under former head coach Ron Zook.

There are also fine managers at Hall, Princeton and St. Bede.

For Hall, it’s Arianna Villalobos, Kam Gambiani, Valery Arzarga and Kassi Roof.

At St. Bede, the Bruins rely on Dylan Harris and Michael Shaw to handle technology, and Aleanna Mendoza, Rylee McGunnigal, Nubia Sajuan and Jessica Waddell do stats.

Alea Goodman takes care of the Tigers, along with Rhett Pearson and Reece Pearson, who the Tiger coach knows quite well.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrmews.com.

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR since 1986 and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member.