In this season-long, behind-the-scenes look at the Queens College men's basketball team, the focus this week is literally on the people behind the scenes, the support staff, none of whom dribble a basketball or wear a uniform. The longest tenured part of that staff is Neal Kaufer, the sports information director/equipment manager/vending stock room manager. The Flushing resident and lifelong Rangers fan started working the baseball camp at Queens College in 1978 and went to doing statistics two years later. He moved from the recreation night and weekend supervisor to assistant sports information director to sports information director. At around the same time he took over as equipment manager and in the mid-90s added a third position as vending stock room manager. Unlike other teams in the league, where there are three or four different people doing basketball statistics, Kaufer sits alone at the far end of the scorer's table, equipped with an array of pencils and pens, a work sheet and a laptop he begrudgingly uses at halftime and after the game. Kaufer says he doesn't do all the stats by choice, but rather by necessity. "One of the guys doing stats gave one assist in an entire game to the University of Alabama at our women's Christmas tournament," Kaufer said. "From then on, I did all of the games, home and away, for both teams." Daniel Unverzagt is in his second year as the athletic trainer for the men's basketball team. Unlike his stints at Division I Hofstra and Manhattan, where he was the primary trainer for men's lacrosse, Unverzagt is the trainer for both basketball teams, women's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, softball and men's track and field and cross country. Because the coaches are all part-time and don't arrive at the school until late in the afternoon, Unverzagt says much of the responsibility falls on the student-athletes to see him to get treatment. "Knowing your athlete is your biggest asset, and I feel I know the guys on this team pretty well," he said. "My job is to keep them healthy and in participation." "Crazy" Steve Scharf isn't your typical student manager. He doesn't sit on the end of the bench, he doesn't hand out water and towels, pick up warmups or work the clock at practices. So what does he do? He keeps the scorebook, home and away. "He's part of the family, although sometimes he's like the kid you want to send back to his parents," Peponakis said. "He helps a lot." Scharf is in his fourth year as manager, following a successful stint at Bayside High School where he was Joe Capuana's football manager for two years and basketball manager for one year. "It's a great experience," he said. "I really have learned a lot. I never thought I wanted to do anything with basketball until I started at Queens College. But it's fun watching good basketball."
©2007 Community News Group
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