Feb. 8, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As the University of Michigan men's basketball team plays each of its games in front of packed arenas on national television and attracts the attention of fans around the world, it is easily forgotten that the 15 young men on U-M's roster are student-athletes. Not only do they play basketball for one of the top teams in the nation, they are also students, pursuing degrees from one of the most prestigious universities in the county.
Each student-athlete juggles a rigorous schedule filled with classes, exams, study hall, practice, film sessions and weight lifting, as well as two games a week that often require traveling. However, there are several people within the men's basketball program that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make their demanding schedules as easy as possible.
One of those people is graduate manager Kyle Barlow, who is in his first season on the Wolverines' staff. Barlow oversees Michigan's 25 student managers who work behind the scenes doing anything they can to help the team. On top of being full-time students, the managers attend practices, assist the staff in the office, and do whatever is asked of them because they love Michigan, and they love what they do.
As a 2010 graduate of Concordia University in Ann Arbor, where he played four years of basketball for the Cardinals, Barlow has his heart on becoming a college basketball coach in the future. The Howell, Mich., native oversees U-M's managers and also assists its coaching staff with scouting and anything else they may need. Although juggling his responsibilities with the men's basketball program while pursuing a graduate degree in sport management from U-M is difficult, Barlow feels fortunate for the opportunity to learn from the some of the best in the business at Michigan.
Barlow brings a unique perspective to the staff that allows him to easily relate to the players, as he can often be found in his office late at night working diligently on his school work after practice. He understands that when the players leave the WDPDC after practice that they are not going home to watch TV or play video games -- they are going home to study for exams or complete assignments for their classes -- just like him. Barlow works tirelessly to be a good role model for the players and strives to show the players that you can succeed in athletics and academics. He is just one important piece to the puzzle that helps the student-athletes on the Michigan men's basketball team be successful on and off the court.
The Wolverines held a media roundtable on Friday (Feb. 8) prior to traveling to Wisconsin for their matchup with the Badgers on Saturday (Feb. 9) at 11 a.m. CST at the Kohl Center. In addition to Coach Beilein speaking with the media, Barlow sat down for a brief interview.
U-M Graduate Manager Kyle Barlow
On how he got his start at Michigan ... "I started working camps here at Michigan a few years ago and started to meet a couple guys like Pete Khaler, C.J. Lee and Travis Conlan, as well as the old graduate manager, Will Vergollo, and I got to know those guys pretty well. When Will was leaving, he helped find candidates to potentially fill the position, so I talked to him and interviewed and got the position. Since I've been here, it's been going really well. It's a lot of work, but I love what I'm doing and I'm doing a lot more stuff than I thought I would be able to do. And we're having a pretty good season so far, so that helps too."
On his main responsibilities ... "I'm the graduate manager, so I'm in charge of our 25 managers, including three head managers. For the most part, the head managers do most of the work organizing our other managers, so they make that really easy. I also assist the assistant coaches and Coach Beilien with anything they need. I help prepare stat packs before and after every game, I help the assistants with the scouting and help them prepare things they need for recruiting."
On how important the managers are behind the scenes ... "They get lost behind the scenes in a lot of situations because our managers are always there. We always have at least seven or eight for practice and when some of our players want to shoot around, they're always there to rebound for them. Since they're always here, when they're not here over the holidays or something, you really notice their absence. They're underappreciated, but they work their tails off -- it's all volunteer work. There are all full-time students and they don't get a lot of love for it, but they do it because they like doing it."
On his favorite part of the job ... "My favorite part is watching all the games that we play, and also helping with the scout for the coaches and getting to watch other teams play. It's very fun and I look forward to coming to work every day. There are a lot of aspects I like -- being on the floor during games and talking with our players to get to know them. I think what I've learned the most is about preparation -- how to prepare for a team, doing scouting. The coaches put a lot of time into preparing for another team, and it's something that I've learned the art of. I've learned how to get that information and then the next step is presenting it to the team and how to prepare and execute a game plan."
On his career aspirations and how Michigan will help him achieve that ... "My goal is to coach. It's a competitive world, so I don't know where that will be. It would be nice to stay at a high level like this, but I also played basketball at a small school, so I know how that works as well. Michigan is going to help me get to the next level because I'm learning from the best -- from the top down. Coach Beilein is one of the best in the business, and the assistants have all worked very hard and have a lot of experience. And then Travis Conlan, Pete Kahler, C.J. Lee, they are all the best at what they do, so it's been helping me learn the business of basketball and pick up on a lot of details."
On how he can relate to the players as a graduate student ... "I think it helps because I realize what they're going through. Sometimes you think about guys going to practice and film and weights, but you don't realize that those guys are going back and studying for a couple hours and have full class loads. I've run into guys who have stayed late at the WDPDC, and we've seen each other at midnight and they wonder what I'm still doing here -- I'm doing homework just like them. It helps us relate to each other much more. Their course load is no joke and that gets lost when you see them on TV and you see them playing basketball, but they're doing a lot of work in school as well."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423