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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Hoosier Hysteria

IU fan Nicholas Virden is in his fifth year with the storied hoops program.

While attending Reitz Memorial High School, Nicholas Virden was as immersed in varsity sports as a student could be. He donned multiple blue and white Memorial Tigers uniforms — football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and lacrosse in the spring.

After graduating from Memorial in 2018, Virden headed south to Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. He landed a role as student manager with the Racers’ men’s basketball team, which then had future NBA star Ja Morant on its roster.

But the lifelong Indiana University basketball fan yearned to work in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, home of the Hoosiers. Virden transferred to IU, and in the fall of 2019, he was hired as a student manager following a competitive interview process.

Virden says working for IU basketball in any capacity would be a dream job, but he has continued to move up the ranks in the Hoosiers’ famed program. He was a student manager for three seasons, including as head video manager in the 2021-22 season.

That involved organizing and preparing the filming of practices and games, breaking down those videos, and studying opponents’ films. He says video technology allows for intricacies — if coaches want to see, for example, all of one player’s shot attempts from the baseline, “we can produce that.”

With his IU bachelor’s degree in sports marketing and management earned in 2022, Virden is now in his second year as operations analyst for the Hoosiers.

“My primary responsibility is recruiting logistics,” he says. “Whenever the coach or assistants go to see somebody officially, I’ll handle all the car services, planes, hotel rooms.”

Virden regularly meets with Head Coach Mike Woodson about things occurring within the basketball operation, and his role extends beyond the basketball season.

“There’s a lot of moving parts, and I kind of help everybody stay going in the right direction,” Virden says. “People look at a college basketball program and think that from November through March it’s go, go, go. But it’s not like there’s a sharp drop off from April through October, especially today, with the transfer portal. It’s full-go to see kids in the program and make sure they are staying happy.”

Virden says his mother, Trina Virden, a preschool teacher at Holy Rosary School in Evansville, influenced his work ethic. He also was close with his late father, Alan, and is proud that both were members of high school football state champion teams — Nicholas at Memorial and Alan at Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana.

Virden, 24, says he plans to continue working in sports, and his five years with IU basketball are a product of “hard work and a couple of lucky breaks here and there.”

“When I got my key card access to where I could unlock the doors of Assembly Hall, it was a ‘pinch yourself’ moment,” Virden says. “It’s not something I take for granted.”

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