Going behind the scenes with games management

Games Management team assists a football game at the Patterson Field at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Thursday, Oct. 19, 2019. Bobby Yu/The Occidental

They are the orange-shirted “event staff” running around during home games — they are the games management (GM) student workers. They keep the courts and fields running. Kelly Young ’12, the director of athletics communications, said Occidental cannot host games without them. Young said they do everything from returning out-of-bounds balls and updating the soccer scoreboard to filming baseball games on top of the coach’s office, often for hours under scorching heat. On the volleyball court, they announce the players and assist as line judges, lifting a red flag when the ball goes out.

According to Madeline Greene (sophomore), the job can be a bit hectic, but she enjoys the positivity that her fellow GM workers bring to the job.

“I really liked the atmosphere — it’s fun but you’re still doing work,” Greene said. “It’s a great community as well — everyone who’s there loves what they’re doing and it’s a nice way to get involved with the school.”

Most GM workers are student-athletes, according to Young. Devon Suske (senior), who is a baseball player, said athletes tend to do this job because they already have knowledge of different sports and enthusiasm for athletics.

Beyond assisting the games, the workers get front-row seats to witness the games in action, closer than the audience. Suske said working at the football games in his first year was especially memorable.

“In my first year, I was on the ‘chain gang’. On the football field, we would help mark first downs. It was a game against La Verne, it was one of the closest ones of the year. As the time was expiring, it came down to the final play of the game,” Suske said. “I just remember being so close to the field, we get to really feel the atmosphere.”‘

Games Management team assists a football game at the Patterson Field at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Thursday, Oct. 19, 2019. Bobby Yu/The Occidental

According to Paige Villanueva (sophomore), a track and field athlete and GM worker, it can be hard to not support her fellow athletes while on the job.

“I really enjoy watching the games, like last night’s water polo game [against Whittier College],” Villanueva said. “They were tied, and then having them get in that last-minute shot — I’m pretty sure you could hear me on the livestream cheering for them.”

According to Young, there are currently close to 50 GM workers. Last semester, there were almost 60. Young said she is looking to recruit more students, as demand for games management spikes when multiple sporting events are happening on campus simultaneously, such as on Homecoming.

Young said that when she arrived at Occidental prior to the 2021 school year, she found herself with a short window to learn about the GM positions, as athletic competitions resumed in fall 2021 for the first time since April 2020, when the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suske said that games management has run more smoothly this year since workers have grown more accustomed to their roles. Suske said that when the baseball team is off-season during the fall, he normally works eight hours a week; he works half this amount when he is in-season in spring. Suske said some sports, such as soccer, take up around four hours; whereas others like volleyball last for around two hours.

According to Young, working as a GM student-worker is not always easy, as issues can arise unexpectedly, sometimes even on game day.

“Right now our sound systems are down, we don’t quite know what’s going on, so I got loaned microphone and speaker from Media Services,” Young said. “I just want the athletes and coaches to recognize that we’re supporting them to the best of our abilities.”

Despite the occasional difficulties, Villanueva said she loves her position and working under Young.

“I think it’s definitely the best job on campus – I really love my boss,” Villanueva said. “She really takes time to get to know each and every one of us.”

Contact Alex Lin at ylin3@oxy.edu.