Helt manages Niles wrestlingPublished 5:38pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013
One of the most valuable members of the Niles wrestling team has never stepped on a mat.
But the importance of senior manager Haley Helt is seen everyday by the Vikings’ coaches and wrestlers.
“She does all the little things behind the scenes,” said Niles wrestling coach Todd Hesson. “Anything that requires organization she does. She’s been very helpful.”
Helt’s job responsibilities have included keeping score, working with athletic director Jeff Upton, organizing practicing schedules, making t-shirts, taking pictures and starting a fan bus for big events like last Wednesday’s team regional.
Helt, who’s a senior, has been a wrestling manager for three years. Family didn’t influence Helt to be involved in the sport. Her 14-year old brother Shevin competes in every sport, but wrestling at Buchanan High School. Helt just saw a wrestling program in need of some extra help when she was part of the Graphic Arts Club and took pictures of the team.
“I was around the team and it looked like the coach needed some help,” said Helt. “I asked (Hesson) about being a manager and he said that he’d love to have me do it and I’ve done it ever since.”
Another factor in Helt’s desire to be a manager is her boyfriend, junior Justin Jones, who’s a wrestler on the team.
“For two and a half years we’ve been dating,” Helt said. “If I wouldn’t have met him maybe I never would have been a manager.”
Helt has never regretted the decision as she enjoys many aspects of the job.
“I like helping coach,” Helt said. “By organizing things I keep stress off of him. I also love keeping score. Learning how to do that came pretty quick to me. Most of the time I’ve been right when it comes to scoring. If I’m not in sync with the score on the scoreboard I’ll ask the refs for help.”
There is one part of the job that Helt admits can be a bit challenging.
“The toughest part of the job is dealing with wrestlers when they’re cutting weight,” Helt said. “When I ask them questions they get an attitude, but I know it’s not personal.”
Helt was just as happy as the team last Wednesday when third-ranked (Division II) Niles won its first team regional since 1960, beating Lakeshore, 38-31, in the finals. The Vikings will take a 33-1 record into Friday’s state quarterfinals at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
“Everyone was so excited,” Helt said. “I loved seeing the boys’ faces and coach’s faces after we won. I know coach Hesson was happy a lot because a lot of stress was off his shoulders.
“It has been an unbelievable season. The team has earned everything. They make us proud every single day. They do their best every single day. I wouldn’t want to manage any other team. We’re just one big family.”
Helt, who owns a 3.4 grade-point average, won’t be leaving the wrestling program when she attends Southwestern Michigan College next fall.
“I will be back here to be a manager next year,” Helt said. “I do it now and I go to school and work also. If I can do it now, I can do it next year too.”
More good news for the Niles wrestling team.