Like many athletes who grow up in central Illinois, Logan Tipsword, a junior majoring in crop science, had always been an avid follower of Illini athletics. “I chose the U of I because I loved Illini athletics and knew it was one of the best schools in the country,” he said. “I never wanted to go anywhere else.” This summer, Tipsword decided to take his love for Illini athletics to another level and became one of the 13 managers for the Illini football team.
Currently, he is assigned to special teams coordinator and tight end coach Bob Ligashesky. “I mostly work with him (Ligashesky) and coach (Garrick) McGee, who is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,” Tipsword said. “I basically go where they go, so I work with tight ends and specialists a lot. Sometimes quarterbacks as well.” His duties, which included traveling with the team, are to set up practice and make sure the coaches have what they need, then assist coaches and the players during practice. “During games, we all have different roles, but my role is to block our signal callers from the crowd so nobody can pick up our signals,” he said. “We also get the players' equipment ready before games.”
The job is demanding, even without a full-time academic schedule. During fall camp, Tipsword worked six days a week for about 4-and-a-half hours a day, and during the season, he has worked the same hours four days a week, plus game days, though he admits players have an even tougher schedule. “I do it because I enjoy it,” he said. “It's a lot of fun to be out on the field with all the players and the other managers.” His favorite part of the job is getting to participate in practice. “Working with the players and coaches is a lot of fun,” he said. “The most fun thing I've done so far is getting to play a defender in an offensive line walkthrough. That was a blast.” On the flipside, if he does not do his job or is late, the coaches will let him know. “The worst part of the job is definitely getting yelled at by the coaches,” he said. “It doesn't happen often, but you don't want to get on those guys' bad sides. They're a great group of guys though.”
Not only has he learned a strong work ethic and better knowledge of the game of football but he also has been building great memories. “The road trips are always fun,” he said. “The equipment and training staff always have an amazing time at other schools. One of my favorite memories so far has been playing 1-on-1 in the corner of the north end zone before games in Memorial Stadium.” He believes this managerial position has already helped him with experience he may need in the future.“In the short time I've been a manager,” he said, “I've already become a little more vocal, and as I've helped the new volunteers, I feel like I've improved as a leader. That should translate well into my career.”
After graduation, Tipsword hopes to earn a job as a researcher for a seed company.
He would like to help develop new versions of crops and maybe help discover new genes that will produce better yields. “My main motivation for taking this position was just having the chance to be a part of something that I followed very closely, since I'm a huge Illini fan,” he said. “It seemed like it would be an amazing experience for me, and it has been.”
Tipsword calls C-U his “favorite place on earth.” Here are three questions and answered about his three years living in C-U.
Smile Politely: Why is C-U your favorite place on earth?
Logan Tipsword: The community has been amazing and a big part of it. Champaign is a great town. There's a lot to do here, and it has a small town kind of atmosphere that reminds me of home (Bethany, IL) a little bit. Campus is always fun. There's always something to do or someplace to go if you're bored. Plus, there's a ton of good food here, and I'm always hungry.
SP: How have you enjoyed your three years here?
Tipsword: The three years that I've been here have been the best of my life. I've made more friends and memories than I can count. There's no better place for me than here…I've done a lot of growing up here, a lot of learning, and it's helped shape me into the person I am today.
SP: What is your favorite thing to do around here?
Tipsword: My favorite thing to do around here is participate in events around campus. My fraternity brothers and I take part in a lot of philanthropy events with sororities and play intramural sports every semester, which are just a couple of examples of campus events.