Texas Tech's Beau Martin Manages to Play
As the sun just begins to peek over the horizon, Beau Martin and the other managers are already awake.
In fact, they barely slept. They’d spent hours doing the team’s laundry the night before, passing the time by shooting pool in the break room or baskets in the deserted gym. Now, they pack up all of the gear, meticulously ensuring that every player, coach, and staff member has everything they need before they hit the road. They push through the monotony of the occasionally grueling job together, as a team. The Managers team.
As the sun sets and the Texas Tech men’s basketball players wind down for the night in preparation for game day, Beau gets energized. He finalizes the plan with that night’s rivals as he heads out the door.
It’s game time.
Under the lights of the empty stadium, Head Manager Beau Martin rallies everyone into a huddle and gives some last words of advice to his team. The Managers team.
Beau Martin: Basketball Player
Beau’s interest in basketball sparked in second grade when he joined a YMCA league with a few friends. His dad observed Beau’s talent for the game. He says that Beau “excelled at all sports he played,” which also included football, soccer, and more. Around this age, “his drive and energy shifted more towards basketball.”
He still loved football, though. It was the Texas in him.
So, his father eagerly cemented a basketball hoop in the driveway. The uphill slope caused the hoop to be slanted, but Beau didn’t mind.
With his lopsided hoop and trash can defenders, Beau spent hours outside putting up shots. His dad happily continued to help Beau fulfill his potential by teaching him to play with both hands and emphasizing defense.
His dad knew, though, that he couldn’t help with everything. He wouldn’t be on the court facing Beau’s opponents or encountering the many adversities that come with being an athlete. He taught Beau how to deal with his own problems, but he also wanted to see his son achieve his big dreams.
So, with stars in his eyes, Beau set his sights on the only career he could see in his future: an NBA player.
Beau made it known that he wanted to be the best. He describes himself at 10 years old as having “a little arrogance” but also “swagger.”
“You were probably the exact same way as a kid,” Beau says, smiling. “Your mindset’s like, ‘Yeah I’m gonna be an NFL player and an NBA player.’”
Simply said, nothing would stop Beau from pursuing a life of basketball greatness.
Discovering College Hoops
Around the same time, he was introduced to the world of college basketball by his grandfather.
Growing up in Dallas, Beau traveled with his family to visit his grandfather in Lubbock a few times a year. Both of Beau’s parents had lived in Lubbock and ended up going to Texas Tech. His grandfather, on the other hand, had attended Texas A&M after playing while enlisted in the Air Force.
The visits played a large role in fostering Beau’s appreciation for Texas Tech (despite the fact that his grandfather was never a fan and stayed loyal to A&M). Beau knew that college basketball would be a crucial step towards his NBA dreams and didn’t want to play for any other school. His grandfather helped him realize this.
“He wasn’t really able to show me a lot of hands-on things when it came to basketball, but I remember that watching games with him were always great memories,” Beau recounts. His grandfather taught him to recognize strategy and look out for the best players.
Beau didn’t know it yet, but he would have his grandfather to thank for his love for college basketball and his future passion.
In the summer before eighth grade, with a few weeks left before school started, Beau’s dad sat him down.
He told him that Beau’s grandfather was in hospice and explained what it meant. Beau wasn’t sure how to react. It wasn’t possible. His grandfather had to be at home in Lubbock, watching the A&M game, just like always.
A few days later, his dad broke the news: his grandfather had passed away.
Beau had never lost someone close to him, and suddenly he couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing someone he loved ever again. “I just didn’t know what to think. I kind of just ran up to my room, got in bed, and was just crying. That was the first death that I’d ever experienced.”
His grandfather had made such an impact on Beau’s passion for basketball that his death cemented Beau’s goal of playing for Texas Tech. He was going to fulfill his dreams, and he was going to do it for his grandfather.
Doubting the Dream
Thirteen-year-old Beau talked to one of his best friends about how he was going to play professional basketball straight out of college. His friend just looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“You really think you’re going to the NBA? Do you know how hard it is to get there?”
He shared some stats showing that Beau needed to be one of the top 45 college players in the country in order to go pro, essentially implying that Beau had absolutely no chance.
At first, Beau denied the reality of his friend’s advice. As he thought about it more, his aspirations did seem a bit impractical. And he hadn’t grown much taller for a while.
Maybe professional basketball wasn’t for him.
Still, he struggled with the realization. What had he been working towards all these years? He had thought the NBA was his future, that it would be the only way forward.
The humility helped Beau come to grips with reality. Pro hoops was not in his future… but he still had a shot at college. It strengthened his goal to play for Texas Tech, which he thought was his only chance at any future in basketball.
With this goal in mind, Beau went on to play his freshman, sophomore, and junior years of high school. He went to every basketball camp, put in extra time in the gym, and spent countless hours in the driveway with his tilted hoop.
Around the end of his junior year, however, Beau’s passion began to falter. He didn’t feel like he fit into the coaches’ fast paced, three-pointer-focused run-and-gun style. Looking forward, he realized, “I don’t think I’m going to have a role on this team.”
Inside of him, that little boy, full of eagerness and “swagger,” wanted to play. Instead, he foresaw his senior self sitting on the sidelines as his college basketball-bound teammates made three-pointer after three-pointer.
Would he really quit basketball as a high school senior?
“I was very frustrated at first,” his father said. “He had sacrificed a lot to get where he was at, then not play.”
Beau knew he wouldn’t enjoy his last year of high school if he stayed on the team, and his dad understood his reasoning. After looking at every angle, Beau made a tough adult decision: He was done with basketball.
But not for long.
That season, he was front row in the student section at every game, covered head to toe in body paint and full of school spirit. Beau hoped to continue his career, just in a different way. Playing basketball was off the table, but coaching wasn't yet.
So, high school senior Beau set his sights on his new dream career: Division I coach.
Specifically, he wanted to coach for Texas Tech. His first step in that direction was to become a student manager.
Beau Martin: Manager
Amidst the chaos of a COVID-filled senior year, Beau contacted a Texas Tech manager he had met at basketball camp, Cooper Anderson. Cooper had just graduated, so he passed Beau’s number along to the next head manager, Ty Larson. Ty talked to Beau over the phone for a while before asking him to come in person for an interview.
Four days later, Beau and his dad headed to Lubbock.
Beau met with some staff members and felt confident he had secured the job as he walked out. They told him they would start back up in early June and that he would hear then.
COVID had other plans. Everything got pushed back. And then back some more.
In late July, Beau’s phone rang. Ty’s name popped up on the screen. They were having a meeting the next day and Beau needed to be there.
He had waited months, seemingly his entire life, for this opportunity. Now it was all happening at once.
As it turned out, he had not yet secured the job. He needed to give a speech in front of the entire team convincing them why he should join the program.
Beau frantically rushed to tell his dad, who lent him his truck. Beau left the house at 6 a.m. and made the five-hour drive to Lubbock.
In front of the team and then-coach Chris Beard, he essentially “auditioned” for the job. There were all eyes on him, two minutes on the clock, and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem blaring out of a speaker.
He finished his speech and Beard told him to step outside for the team vote.
Out in the hallway, he couldn’t recall a single thing he had said in that room. It was all a blur. “I was just thinking that I totally botched it,” Beau said.
After what seemed like an eternity, Ty called him back into the gym. Beau entered through the doors to find the entire team standing along the sideline.
He still had one final task.
Beard wanted him to do the three-minute drill: Run up and down the court as fast as possible for three minutes straight. “If you can do that, you’re in. You ready?”
“Yes sir,” he responded without hesitation. He knelt down to tighten his shoelaces and retreated behind the baseline. His “swagger” returned. This was his moment.
“Lose Yourself” played over the speakers again, drowned out by the din of the players cheering for Beau.
Up and back, up and back.
If you can do that, you’re in.
His lungs burned.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
The buzzer blared.
Was it enough?
The players surrounded him with celebratory high fives and hugs, signaling the beginning to Beau’s managing career.
“Welcome to the team.”
Above “Above and Beyond”
Beau didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he took the job. According to him, any student manager across the country would agree.
Beau worked around 70-80 hours a week as a freshman. His monthly paycheck was the priceless experience he needed for his future. Other than that, he didn’t earn a dime.
He stepped up to a larger role sophomore year and took on more important responsibilities. These included attending road games, working with the head coach, and helping with scouting.
Beau knew he needed to take initiative in order to receive recognition for his hard work. He hoped this would culminate in him eventually becoming head manager.
“It was really just the small things.”
He even did things like cleaning the coaches' offices without being asked. Anything to get noticed for his tireless efforts on top of his already lengthy list of responsibilities.
The head manager at the time, Cade, saw Beau grow that year as his right-hand man. “The biggest thing Beau did was just always be available,” Cade says. Whenever a player needed a rebounder or coaches needed help finding stats online, Beau was there in an instant.
That season, the only other managers chosen to go on the road were seniors. He saw the job in his near future, his hard work finally paying off.
“It was something Beau talked about from the moment he stepped foot on campus,” Cade says. “And anything he talked about he worked hard for, so he was the obvious choice.”
Junior year, Beau began the season with a brand new title: Head Manager.
Chief of Staff Rick Cooper recognized Beau’s work ethic as well. “He does not ask our student managers to do anything that he would not do himself,” Cooper explains, “and he knows he is never ‘off the clock’ as the Student Manager Leader in this program.”
Additionally, Cooper Anderson, the Coordinator of Basketball Operations, has seen Beau grow as a manager over his three years at Tech. “He understands that he can always get better and is actively looking to learn as much as he can all the time.”
In addition to all of the hard work, though, Beau had the chance to continue his playing career.
Going into high school, Beau first heard about a league where they let the managers play. He still didn’t know much his freshman year of college, since COVID shut down all manager games. They really started for Beau his sophomore year.
They take place the night before their teams play. But with the managers’ crammed schedules, these games sometimes don’t happen. That’s why the competition is so fierce when they do get the chance.
Beau realized that he wasn’t done with stepping out onto the court and playing alongside teammates. After quitting basketball in high school, he hadn’t been sure if he’d ever have the chance again. “Being able to play again was a big deal, and I think it was for a lot of our other managers too.”
They all take pride in playing for the team. It might seem that these informal games are just for fun, but they are a big deal for the managers. “Everybody takes it seriously,” Beau says. “You’re there to win the game.”
Beau also takes on the role of head coach of the Texas Tech managers. It’s the best of both worlds: Beau gains leadership experience while still getting the opportunity to play in some of the most well-known college venues around the country. In a way, his childhood foreshadowing is almost coming true.
The New Vision
Becoming a D1 player is extremely difficult. It’s impossible for most. However, it’s even harder to become a D1 coach.
To 13-year-old Beau, it had seemed so impossible to play college hoops. But his new dream, to become a Division I coach, doesn’t seem so unattainable now. The road towards a professional basketball career is in sight, just in a different way than he had previously imagined.
Life has a way of working out, even if it takes some detours along the way.
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