As the Northeastern Huskies and James Madison Dukes prepare for their Wednesday night CAA clash in Matthews Arena, many are talking about the matchup between two of the best backcourts and most exciting guards the conference has to offer. However, a bigger storyline for this epic No. 1 vs. No. 2 contest is JMU basketball manager Joe Kuykendall’s homecoming to the Boston area.
RantSports.com CAA Columnist, Jake Fischer sat down with the freshman Duke before the big regular season game to talk all that is JMU basketball, managing and his parents unique love story.
Q: You’re originally from the Boston area. How did you end up at James Madison instead of a Boston school, like Northeastern?
A: It’s a funny story actually. I was born in Virginia. But I’ve lived in Andover, Massachusetts since I was 10 years old. I consider Massachusetts home, but I grew up in Virginia. My parents actually both went to JMU and met as basketball managers.
Q: That’s really interesting. So, your parents having been managers really influenced you to become one?
A: Yea, that’s definitely why I wanted to become a team manager. I heard all of their stories growing up. They told me all about being around the guys and how incredible an experience it was to be a part of the team. You know, I’m basically apart of the team, I just don’t play. I don’t have the ability to play Division I basketball [laughs] but it’s awesome to be around it.
Q: How do you get to be the team manager? Was their a specific interview or application process?
A: JMU has a whole team manager program that’s run by the Athletics Department. They have an entire online application that you can fill out. The apps are then distributed through that program to the teams and they look at them. I filled the application out back when I was still a senior in high school – even though it was passed the deadline [laughs]- and just passed it in to see what happens. After that, I was added to an e-mail list and received an email on who to contact if I wanted to be a manager for the Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Track and Field and Mens’ basketball team. I sent coach [Matt] Brady an e-mail, I had an interview after sending in some recommendations and I found out a week later I got the job.
Q: How often are you around the team?
A: I make every practice. I’m usually the first one there and the last one to leave. That’s just what it takes to be a manager. I set up [everything] before practice, run the scoreboard and wipe up sweat during practice and clean everything up after they’re done. Dimitrije Cabarkapa is one of my best friends. He came over for Christmas dinner with my family and we go to the gym every night and shoot around. So I definitely am part of the team.
Q: For home games, what is your game day routine?
A: At home, I get out of class around noon. We have shoot around at about 2:30 p.m. and then eat the pregame meal right after. I come back to the gym at 5:30 to prep for the actual game. I set out towels for both our team and the away team, fill up water bottles set up white boards for the coaches, give tape to the video people so we can watch game film. I do all the little things that bring it all together.
Q: Your routine is clearly different on the road. What’s it like traveling with the team, and is it difficult to make up missed schoolwork?
A: It’s not really that hard. I have friends in each class who are really good note takers. I’m a good student, but sometimes it’s really nice to get out of the grind and have a nice break for a road trip. But, I do try really hard to make up everything that I miss. I love being part of the team; the coaching staff and the guys are great. This opportunity to travel is absolutely incredible. I’m not going to jeopardize that by slacking off with my classes.