The behind the scenes show that makes sporting events great

Jack Benbow

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It’s a hot Friday afternoon at the Tiburon Challenger as ball boys and girls dressed in blue shirts scramble up and down the court retrieving tennis balls for the professionals. On the same night, the San Rafael Pacifics play a home baseball game. Fans eagerly cheer on the Pacifics, as prompted by their mascot, Sir Francis Drake. The following morning, a teen coach exclaims encouragement to his team. Although there is  seemingly no correlation between these teams, they all share one characteristic: they are the helpers from behind the scenes that make sports run smoothly on the surface.

Photo by Taylor Charles

Freshman tennis player and official Tiburon Challenger ball boy Jackson Bramlette takes pride in helping in the background. Bramelette started playing tennis at the age of seven and has played in United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments ever since. However, it is not the tournaments that he finds the most thrilling, but the Tiburon Challenger.

“Everything about the tournament is different. You have these guys hitting balls 120 miles per hour, and they are from all over the world. Watching these guys play tennis is like watching a movie; you have no idea where it’s going to go but you just know you love it,” Bramelette said.

Volunteers are essential to keep local events running smoothly. Bramelette’s work for the Challenger is especially critical: a ballboy is required to be on court for every Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) event in order for the match to take place. According to Bramlette, his volunteer efforts not only cause the tournament to run smoothly, but also benefit the community and himself.

“I think that most people watch the tournament and see [ball boys] as people who are just there to have fun and witness tennis. Personally, I really love to watch tennis. I think it is a great place to help out and serve my community, but there is a lot more work involved than just the fun,” Bramelette said.

The same need for young volunteers also applies to the Pacifics baseball team. Jamie Evershed, the Pacifics’ mascot, has worked with the team during the past two seasons. Evershed’s initial internship had roles ranging from being a greeter at the doors of the stadium to handing out information flyers for the team prior to becoming the official mascot last summer.

“I just thought it was really fun and I enjoy doing it every time I get out there,” Evershed said. “I just really enjoy trying to get fans excited whenever I get called out.” 

He believes that there are numerous contributions from behind the scenes that contribute to an overall enjoyable experience for every fan.

“If you look at the [San Francisco] Giants’ games, it’s not just the team that makes it fun, but the location, the stadium, the design, the food, the volunteers, Lou Seal. It’s everything, in addition to the players, that makes a sporting event more interesting,” Evershed said. “That’s basically what I try to do for the team.”

An analogous sentiment is emphasized by senior Yannis Caparis, who has coached kindergarten, third grade and fifth grade basketball for the past few years. Caparis initially began coaching because he thought it would be fun to be able to teach his knowledge of sports to younger kids. Through his coaching experiences, he has discovered a new sentimental value in his role guiding youth sports.

Throughout their ten-week season, Caparis helps his teams for three to six hours a week as they bounce around from practice to games. Although Caparis believes winning is important, he instills values of character and sportsmanship. 

Photo Courtesy of Jaime Evershed

“Often if [the kids] give [maximum] effort, they will walk out proud of themselves winning or losing, which is all I think really matters at this level of competitiveness,” Caparis said.

Allowing students like Caparis to coach allows for youth athletes to learn from a fellow person instead of an adult. Ultimately, this leads to young kids having a role model who they can better understand because of the smaller age gap allowing them to learn things that they would never be able to learn from parents.

“Sometimes when you mess up and you’re down on yourself, if there is someone who has been through it before, [they] can tell them that ‘you will be fine, get them next time.’ Just something simple like that can get them going back on the right road,” Caparis said.