By Charles Hallman
Gopher basketball has previously had parent-sibling combinations on its bench: Former head coach Clem Haskins hired his son Brent as an assistant, and Saul Smith currently is an assistant coach on his father Tubby Smith’s staff.
But K-Anna Loyd is the first Black female team manager on the school’s women’s basketball team since 2000. Second-year Assistant Coach Curtis Loyd is her father. This might be an historic first in this regard in Gopher hoops history — a father-daughter duo.
A student team manager’s job is more than just that of ball boys and ball girls, as most people believe. “During game days, we are taking care of food,” explains K-Anna, who is one of five U of M team managers. “During timeouts, we hand them water and make sure they have towels and the stools they sit on. We [also] are the team’s mini-cheerleaders.”
However, the first-year manager points out, “I didn’t think we would be around [the players] constantly. Sometimes you are watching over them, and I didn’t expect that. But it puts more responsibility in our roles, which I feel is needed because of future roles that I might have. I feel this role is helping with that.”
When told that being a student manager could sometimes lead to other opportunities, such as coaching, a smiling K-Anna responded, “That’s nice.”
“She wants to be a coach,” confirms her father, Curtis.
“I do want to be a coach, but I don’t know if the college level is what I want to do,” added his daughter. “But I do want to work my way up, hopefully first in high school. I’m looking at getting my college coaching certificate. And I know managing will help, since I am able to interact with the coaches and see how they run practices.”
Both father and daughter are still adjusting to life in Minnesota: The Loyds have moved several times during his 14 years of collegiate coaching. Two years ago the family lived in Ohio, where Curtis was an associate head coach at the University of Akron.
“I have a great family,” says Curtis. “They understand the process. If I am able to go to another program, we really sit down and weigh out the pluses and minuses. It’s been a blessing, because they have come to Minneapolis and really call it home.”
“I still feel like a stranger at times,” admits K-Anna, the oldest of three children. However, after her freshman year at Minnesota, “I know the area now and I’m more familiar about the college since I’m living here [on campus].
“I didn’t know that I could be a manager last year — I thought because I was the coach’s child that I couldn’t be a manager because he’s my dad,” says K-Anna, a parks and recreation studies major with a minor in sports management. But once she learned otherwise, she approached Head Coach Pam Borton: “It’s because of her,” she says, that she got the position.
If there is anything that surprised her about being a manager, it’s that she thought she and Dad would spend a little more time together: “I thought I would see him more,” says K-Anna. When she does see him at work, the interaction is not quite the same.
“She knows I’m a different person [on the court] — I’m Coach Loyd,” Curtis points out. “But as soon as we’re off the floor, I’m Dad.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.