By Andrew Preston
Damani Smith, a sophomore sports management major, has a rather unique talent when it comes to watching sports: statistics.
Smith can memorize statistics for any sport he watches, but particularly for his favorite sport—basketball.
“After I watch a game, I just know from watching what a person had [in the game],” said Smith. “It’s just a natural talent I have.”
Sometimes Smith won’t even have to watch a game. Simply looking at the stats once will do.
“I sometimes go on NBA.com or NFL.com and look at stats. Once I look at it one time, I remember it,” said Smith. “I just know it.”
The sophomore transfer student from Nashville State is the team manager for the men’s basketball team this season, something he hopes to continue throughout his time at Trevecca.
“Todd Welch has been our team manager for a long time, but it’s been awhile since we’ve added a student manager to the team,” said men’s basketball coach Sam Harris. “It’s something I’ve missed having.”
During practices Smith runs the game and shot clocks, making sure the team simulates game like situations.
“It’s good for our players to see that we have a student who is interested in helping them get better,” said Harris. “I think it’s fun for him too.”
Harris added that without Smith, his team may lose track of time and work specific drills too long.
“He always keeps us on time,” said Harris.
Harris said Smith is to the go-to man for the team on game nights. He’s responsible for filling water bottles, running in and out of the locker room and assisting in any other way he can.
“I wanted to get the feel of what it’s like to be a manager and I am also fulfilling my community service requirement for sports management,” said Smith.
Sports management majors are required to serve a certain amount of sports related community service hours every semester.
“Damani is always helping out at practice,” said sophomore point guard, Donovan Donaldson. “Whenever you need a rebounder, he’s there. He is always pointing out what he sees in practice and just loves being around the game.”
While Smith may sit at the end of the bench for most home games, he is just as important as his players according to Harris.
“I never let our managers feel left out. They are always a part of our team. They aren’t the [gopher]—‘go get water, go get this.’ They are a part of our team,” said Harris.
Statistics have always come easy for the Nashville native who recalls telling his mom how many points he scored during his middle school games.
“In middle school I played football and basketball, but in high school I was working too much to participate,” said Smith.
Smith would have continued his career in athletics were it not for his job at Harvest Hands.
For the past six years, Smith has worked at Harvest Hands, a local South Nashville organization dedicated to developing youth in its surrounding neighborhoods.
According to their website, “Harvest Hands is a catalyst for Christ-centered, holistic community development working alongside our neighbors to further education, healthy living, spiritual formation and economic development in South Nashville.”
Smith spends most weekends helping out at Harvest Hands as a referee for elementary and middle school kids. After graduating from Trevecca, Smith said he wants to pursue something bigger.
“I will be the first to graduate from a four-year university in my family,” said Smith. “Once I graduate I want to become a sports information director.”
Smith loves his role on the team because he gets to have a connection with the players, a chance to assist in sports and has the chance to keep mental statistics in his head.
“I want to build better relationships between the guys on the team. It’s about growing as a team and getting better overall, it’s not just about winning,” said Smith.
Although he’s the team manager this year, Smith doesn’t believe his playing career is over quite yet. He has hopes of potentially joining the team next season.
“I might try out next year as a walk-on depending on how many players we have coming back,” said Smith.
Coach Harris said it’s too early to start considering any players for next seasons roster, but that he admires Smith’s dedication to his team.
“He’s been here every day at practice. Only when he doesn’t have a ride, he isn’t here, and even then, he tries to figure out a way to make it,” said Harris.
Stats on Smith:
Favorite players: Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade.
Favorite teams: Chicago Bulls, New England Patriots