Student managers turn pro

Drew McDonald, Sports Editor

Featured image by: Royce Washington

Behind any college sports team, there are the student managers. These are the people who do the grunt work, take care of the team’s laundry, set up the equipment and assist the coaches with whatever they need. 

Royce Washington and Marlin Lagesse-Campbell are senior student managers for the UNF men’s basketball team. After years of dedicating their time and effort to the team, the two have landed job opportunities with professional sports teams. Better yet, their favorite teams. 

Growing up, Washington was a huge fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite Kevin Durant’s decision to jump ship and become a Warrior.

“That was my favorite team but I kind of drifted apart from the team once he (Durant) wanted to become a Warrior, “ Washington said. “Back in 2014, my dad took me to watch a game and to now work for this organization is unbelievable.”

Before the senior from Fort Lauderdale earned a spot with the Thunder, Washington’s journey began as a student manager for Florida SouthWestern State College’s men’s basketball team. 

After three years, Washington transferred to UNF and made the jump to becoming a student manager for a mid-major program like UNF. The team’s Director of Basketball Operations, Ian Gibson, took Washington under his wing and helped develop Washington’s skills in video. 

“It might be fun to be on the court and do drills with the guys but if you’re trying to get a job in the NBA, video will take you a long way,” Washington said. “Coach Gibson showed me how to break down film, how to send the film to the coaching staff and I’m truly thankful because I found my niche in basketball.”

In his senior year, Washington reached out to the UNF coaches about pursuing a job in the NBA and found out that some coaches had ties to the Thunder. 

“Coach Gibson used to be a coach at VCU and had a player named Bradford Burgess and he’s now the video coordinator for the Thunder,” Washington said. “Also, Coach Driscoll is good friends with Sam Presti, who is the General Manager of the Thunder, and put in a good word for me when he went over there to watch a practice last year.”

Washington was assigned a data analytics project from the Thunder and it was his toughest test that ultimately resulted in him withdrawing from the internship. Just around the holiday season, Washington received some surprising news that led to another internship opportunity from the Thunder. 

“In December, I received an email from the Thunder saying that there might be an internship opportunity for me and they assigned me a project that I can’t go into specifics about,” Washington said. 

In the spring, Washington ended up earning the internship with the Thunder as a Data Science & Solutions Video Associate and will never forget when he told the Ospreys the news. 

“To share that with my brothers was a special time for me and that will be my number one moment while being at UNF,” Washington said. 

For Lagesse-Campbell, the thought of being a student manager didn’t cross his mind until a UNF men’s basketball legend brought it up. 

Photo courtesy of: Marlin Lagesse-Campbell
Marlin Lagesse-Campbell landed a job with the Rays as an assistant in their Baseball Operations department.

“I was a freshman and talked to Dallas Moore, who was in his senior season at UNF,” Lagesse-Campbell said. “After he mentioned what a manager does, I met the coaches the next day and the rest is history.”

As much as he enjoyed working with the Ospreys, Lagesse-Campbell planned to work in baseball. In his hometown of St. Petersburg, Tropicana Field is his second home as an avid Tampa Bay Rays fan. 

“In high school, I usually went to 60-70 games a year,” Lagesse-Campbell said. 

Just like Washington, the senior from St. Petersburg was looking at any possible option for working in professional sports after he graduates. When a position with the Rays popped up, Lagesse-Campbell applied and didn’t think anything of it until another door opened. 

“I applied and didn’t get a call back but my buddy texted me about filling a position as an assistant with the Rays Baseball Operations department,” Lagesse-Campbell said. “I gave the guy who was in charge a call, sent over my resume and he hired me on the spot.”

Both of these stories come full circle to Lagesse-Campbell and Washington. When asked if they thought three years ago that they would end up working in professional sports for their favorite teams, they wouldn’t have believed it. 

“If you told me that I was going to end up working for the Rays, I’d say that you’re crazy,” Lagesse-Campbell said. 

“I believe that you have to connect the dots to your journey and you never know when your time is going to come so you just have to stay patient,” Washington said. 

Although sports are on pause due to Covid-19, Lagesse is working remotely with the Rays and Washington is set to report to OKC on June 1. 


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