The Post-Journal

Jamestown Teen Is Living Dream At Duke

Working As Manager For Men’s College Team As A Freshman

Kirsten Green’s feelings were mixed on that December evening almost 2 ½ years ago.

As a longtime fan of Duke basketball, she was excited about standing outside the Blue Devils’ locker room following their game at Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium.

And the thought of catching a glimpse of Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Hurley or Grant Hill excited her even more.

But Green, then a junior at Jamestown High School, remembers feeling a pang of envy.

For sitting near the door of the Duke dressing room was a girl, who, quite obviously, was a team manager.

“I told her how jealous I was,” Green recalled.

The Jamestown resident isn’t anymore.

“Now, I’m in the same position,” said Green, now a freshman manager at Duke. “It’s unbelievable”.

“It’s kind of a dream come true. I’ve been a Duke fan since seventh grade. To come to the university is a thrill, but to work with the basketball program is just fantastic.”

One of eight student managers – and one of only three freshman – Green has worked every Duke practice, scrimmage and home game this season, and is in Charlotte, N.C., for this weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. She also made a road trip to Iowa just before Christmas, a unique opportunity since road trips are usually handled by upperclassmen.

“Of course, that could change if the Blue Devils, who will undoubtedly receive a high seed when the field of 64 is announced later today, make it to the Final Four, also in Charlotte, in three weeks.

“I’ve been told if we went to the Final Four, they’d bring (all the managers) because there’s so much to do,” Green said.

Her duties include setting up for practice, working the shot clock during scrimmages, rebounding during individual player instruction and videotaping practice.

And that’s in addition to providing drinks, towels and the other more mundane aspects of the job that have brought her some television exposure that her parents – Mr. and Mrs. C. Larry Green of Jamestown – have captured on tape.

“I feel very lucky,” Green said. “During practice Coach K will say something and I’ll have to pinch myself … It’s really exciting.”

All it took to – pardon the pun – get the ball rolling was a letter.

Upon learning of her acceptance to the Durham, N.C. last April, Green, at the urging of her dad, wrote a letter to Krzyzewski to inquire about the possibility of becoming a manager for the team.

“It took me a couple of weeks to actually get around to doing it,” Green admitted.

But by May, she had received a letter from a staff assistant, advising her that manager positions would be available and that she should contact her office when Green arrived on campus in September to arrange for an interview.

After an interview with two student managers, Green and two other freshmen met with Duke assistant coach Pete Gaudet, who eventually “hired” them.

“Everyone in the program is really accommodating and accepting,” Green said. “People are so nice at every level – the players, the coaches, the staff, everybody. They made us so very welcome. That first day of practice with a team like that was pretty overwhelming. I was excited, but I was nervous also.”

As it turned out, she didn’t have to be.

At Duke, as Green quickly learned, there are no superstars.

“They told me in the first week that there are four parts of the team – the staff, the coaches, the managers and the players,” said Green, a mathematics and economics major with a 3.5 grade point average. “And all four parts work together to make Duke basketball a success. I think a lot of it comes from Coach K himself. Whenever I see him, he says, “Hi Kirsten, how are you today?” When he sees anybody, he goes out of his way to be gracious.”

What had attracted her to Duke in the first place – the academics, Coach K, the program’s squeaky-clean image – is not a myth. It is as good as advertised.

“That was one of my fears that maybe I’d see something I didn’t want to know about Duke,” Green said. “But it’s as great as it sounds. There’s nothing I could say negative about the program.”

For instance, when Green’s father and sister, Caroline, visited earlier this season, they were greeted by Krzyzewski’s wife. And after the Blue Devils honored Grant Hill by retiring his jersey, Green was invited to a post-game reception hosted by Hill’s parents.

“I’m getting kind of spoiled, I guess,” Green said.

But at Duke, it’s a way of life – at least when it comes to basketball.

Prior to last week’s regular-season finale with arch-rival North Carolina, Krzyzewski ordered pizza for students who had camped outside Cameron Indoor Stadium – some for as long as three weeks – in hopes of getting a seat for the game.

The tent city is known affectionately as “Krzyzewski-ville.”

“It’s kind of a tradition,” Green said. “It’s like a fair.”

For Green, however, her seat – behind the Duke bench- is reserved through 1996-97 season.

There won’t be any need for a tent and she’ll gladly pass on the pizza.

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