By: Greg Levinsky
Rarely do you see team managers suit up in practice, never mind at college basketball’s highest level. Yet it was common to see Adam Mikula matching up with the Boston University men’s basketball team, going toe-to-toe with multi-year scholarship players.
No longer is Mikula glued to the bench when tipoff arrives. Come Tuesday against Northeastern University in the season opener, the junior’s number could be called.
“I’ll probably be a little nervous honestly because I haven’t played in a game and so long,” Mikula said. “I think I’ll be ready.”
The 22-year-old served as a team manager for the first two years of his collegiate experience. Following a slew of injuries last year, Mikula stepped in and practiced with the team. He performed well enough to earn a roster spot as a walk-on from head coach Joe Jones.
“He’s gradually gotten himself into this role, and he is someone that you can depend on,” Jones said. “This summer he worked as hard as anybody.”
“I want to make him proud,” Mikula said of Jones. “There’s a lot of people that believed in me that helped me get here.”
A native of Slovakia, Mikula spent most of his adolescence in East Boston. The 6-foot-2, 185 pound guard attended Boston Latin School and later Brimmer and May where he earned NEPSAC AA Honorable Mention honors. It was around that time when Jones got tipped by a friend about Mikula who received interest from only Division III schools.
Jones invited him to be the team’s manager, and after two years in that position, Jones found it fitting to put Mikula on the roster. When the injuries mounted last season, Mikula began to practice consistently. He said he was hesitant at first, trying not to make mistakes. Eventually, Mikula impressed enough to earn a legitimate spot, attaining his ultimate goal.
“Adam’s that guy,” Jones said. ” He just wants to do whatever is asked of him so we can have more success.
“I can’t say enough about him.”
Junior forward Tyler Scanlon said the team “appreciates” having Mikula on the roster.
“He was invested and his hard work paid off,” Scanlon said. “It’s really cool to see that.”
Mikula said the reception from his teammates is much different than when he was a manager.
“Obviously they don’t treat me like a manager anymore, which I appreciate.” he said. “They see me as one of them.”
Earlier in the season, Mikula found himself in a leadership role. Yes, it’s his first year truly on the roster. However, he’s a junior and the underclassmen look up to him. In many practices, the freshman turn to him for an example.
“They really got it, and I was like ‘oh man, I have this ability,'” he said.
It’s just a matter of days until Jones calls for number 25 to check in for the first time.
“He’s going to deserve it because of what he’s done,” Jones said. “I know it’ll be a special moment for everyone in our program.”
“If he scores a bucket, I think the place might go nuts,” Scanlon said.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky.