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More Than a Game

Middleton manager finds 'family' among players

Among the bright yellow and maroon jerseys, bulging with shoulder pads and covered in game sweat on the Middleton High sidelines, a lone maroon jersey stands out.

With her head held up high, her boyfriend's number on her back and her words heard from yards away, Diana Jean, the football manager and Middleton senior, holds her own on the field.

"I do everything as the football manager: the equipment, the uniforms," Diana said. "The football players listen to me and come to me for things. Diana I need a mouth guard. Diana I need ice."

Practices, Friday nights and some Saturdays, Diana is on the field with the players. Besides ensuring players have the right equipment and clean uniforms, Diana runs up and down the sidelines, constantly interacting with players. Whether she is laughing with them after a great play, or giving them advice during a frustrating quarter, it's clear the players respect this manager.

"You've got to keep strong," Diana said. "Some of the boys are going to need someone to encourage them and keep their head right. You have to be out there and actually know what they are feeling. You've got to get into their minds, like being the psychologist out there."

With this year's season coming to a close, Diana looks toward her future and life after Middleton. After graduation, she plans to join the Army. Besides her teachers and friends, she will miss her teammates and coaches on the field.

"I like just being around them," Diana said. "You can actually feel how they are feeling. When they lose games, you can feel their pain. When they are winning or doing something right you can feel it, too. It's just like a big family."

Do you have an idea that you would like to see featured in "More Than a Game"? Eve Edelheit can be reached at eedelheit@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3309.

Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit will scan the county to focus on the ancillary aspects — players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders — that make prep football in this area "More Than a Game."

Middleton manager finds 'family' among players 11/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:37pm]
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