HARRISONBURG — He’s, in reality, a basketball coach. And eventually that’s all Eric Wagenlander wants to be.
“I want to have my own team to run someday,” James Madison’s recently appointed director of basketball operations said. “But there’s kind of a corporate ladder to climb.”
So for the moment, Wagenlander has to wear more than a few other hats.
The former team captain at Wofford, he joined the JMU staff last season as the video coordinator before earning the promotion this spring. He still handles some of the video responsibilities, preparing game films for scouting and recruiting purposes.
“He has been an outstanding asset to our JMU basketball family since joining us last season, committing himself fully to improving our program however he could,” JMU’s fourth-year coach Louis Rowe said. “Eric is extremely loyal and hard-working, making him a perfect fit for our director of operations position.”
But he also essentially handles all the responsibilities that make traveling secretary a full time job for a professional franchise. Soon, he’ll have booked travel arrangements for every Dukes road trip this season up to March’s Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in Washington, D.C.
Wagenlander, known as Wags around the Convocation Center, also functions as a liaison between the basketball office and the main campus, helps arrange coaches’ engagements with the Duke Club and other alumni groups and communicates with academic advisors among other duties before he even gets into actual basketball activities such scheduling practices and weight room times and making sure players know where to be and when.
“The basketball side of it is really just making Coach Rowe’s life as easy as possible,” Wagenlander said. “Having all the film prepared for him, scouting reports and all of that and then helping prepare gameplans and organize practice.”
Like many cases, serving as director of operations for Wagenlander is a foot in the door for coaching at the Division I level, and though he can’t go on the road to recruit, he’s often like an additional assistant on the staff.
He’s just got to make sure all the other needs are addressed too.
“I usually try to get all the non-basketball stuff done early in the day,” Wagenlander said. “So then I can get in there and really just focus on basketball.”