By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021

HANOVER – Buddy Teevens’ pockets are usually full by the time he exits Memorial Field after a practice. That’s because the Dartmouth College football boss picks up bits of trash throughout the session. He’s also prone to moving blocking bags, mobile water tanks and footballs back off the sidelines, perpetually worried about his players’ safety. 

Ryan Finley, left, and Parker Thurston. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

No surprise then that the 31st-year head coach is bullish on a pair of young staff members whose behind-the-scenes efforts contribute significantly to his team’s success. Video coordinator Parker Thurston and equipment manager Ryan Finley are Hanover High graduates who landed jobs only a few hundred yards from their alma mater.

“You always appreciate people who are passionate about what they do,” Teevens said. “That interactive energy and enthusiasm is a big part of one family working together for a common goal.”

Thurston, 24, oversees the team’s myriad video responsibilities with help from director of operations Dino Cauteruccio, Jr. Student workers film every practice and game from multiple locations. Thurston, who usually shoots with a handheld camera from the field, breaks it all down by drill and position group immediately after practice, then distributes it to coaches and players through the team’s computer system.

There’s also a need for social media footage. College programs compete year-round for recruits’ attention and the days of relying primarily on letters and glossy publications are long gone. Now, if a program isn’t bombarding the internet with highlights, facilities displays and “hype” clips, it’s far behind the curve. 

Parker Thurston on the sidelines during a 2019 game. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Got a new uniform combination coming out or a linebacker leading the league in tackles? A newly-announced and impressive graduation percentage? The opening of an indoor facility? Videos call attention to all that and much more. Position coaches wear remote microphones and are followed by cameras during practices so prospects can get a sense of who they are and how they teach.

“The graphics work Parker’s done on all the different platforms, that’s so important to kids these days,” Teevens said. “He watches hours of video to put together a 90-second or two-minute presentation that’s astounding. He has a lot of creativity.”

Finley’s job is less technical but no less vital. The 22-year old logs long hours washing, sorting and reissuing laundry and tending to all the Big Green’s protective gear. He’s on near-constant standby in case anything from a football to a blocking sled fails. 

The Lyme resident’s days are also spent assessing and repairing inventory and ensuring that all individual and group practice equipment is functional. This doesn’t sound like much until the 26th player of the afternoon drops by demanding new gloves and the industrial-sized dryer is beeping to be emptied. Through it all, however, Finley wears a delighted expression.

Ryan Finley works on a helmet during an August practice. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“He never complains and he’s always happy and has a spring in his step,” said Teevens, who places a premium on his staff’s interpersonal skills. “He’s got a thankless job but he loves it.”

A fun bit of trivia is that Thurston and Finley once formed the Hanover JV baseball battery. The former, a tall, sidearm hurler, was caught by his considerably smaller teammate. While posing for a recent photo, Thurston jokingly asked if Finley had a ladder so their heads might be at the same height.

“They’re part of the team and have really important roles and we love having them around the locker room,” said senior guard Jake Guidone. “Sometimes, you’re in a weird funk and they’ll listen to what’s on your mind.”

Thurston grew up in Norwich playing primarily baseball and hockey. However, he did run a year of cross country to stay in shape and was also a fourth-grade football lineman. A National Merit Scholarship earned him recruiting attention from the University of Oklahoma and he graduated in 2019 with a management degree.

It was while a Sooner that Thurston browsed online campus job listings and applied to be one of the high-powers football team’s 10 student videographers. That job also led to work with the university’s baseball team and his combined experience paved the way to land his current position in the summer of 2019. Thurston followed another onetime Hanover High varsity hockey player, Alex Dodds, into the role.

Parker Thurston, left, confers with receiver Wade Williams during a practice this week. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“During the season, I’m here at 8:30 (a.m.) and leave around 11:30 (p.m.),” said Thurston, who has interviewed for jobs at Philadelphia’s Temple University and the University of Kansas. “It’s a grind, but it’s what I’ve been used to since college and this is a job in which I have upward mobility.”

One of Thurston’s favorite duties is creating highlight videos Dartmouth players and coaches watch en masse, usually the night before a game. Combining footage, music and graphics with occasional clips from popular movies or videos, he’s able to excite and entertain the crowd.

“It’s great when guys see one of my pregame videos and they’re hammering on the desks and yelling,” Thurston said. “It feels nice to know I did that.”

Finley’s ties to the Big Green go back to his early childhood, when his maternal grandfather, Tony Pippin, would bring him to hockey, football and baseball games, sometimes checking him out of school early to take in a hardball doubleheader. Pippin, a Big Green booster for decades, ran several local convenience stores for many years and often catered college athletics gatherings.

Finley began helping out around Thompson Arena as a 10-year old, refilling and lugging water coolers to and from the hockey benches and helping with equipment matters under the concrete stands. By his high school days, he was a de facto student manger and when he decided to leave Plymouth State after a year, Dartmouth head equipment manager Mike Bissaillon hired him on a part-time basis.

Ryan Finley awaits the team’s pregame entrance before hosting Sacred Heart in September. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Despite that misleading qualifier, Finley is usually the lone equipment man in Floren Varsity House and out on the practice field. Big Green players and coaches know he’s all-in at all times.

“I’ve been places where guys get offended and roll their eyes and are dismissive,” Teevens said. “That’s not the case here. You ask Parker or Ryan to do something and you can consider it done.”

Finley recalls the day he learned from a former Dartmouth hockey equipment manager that helping out around a team every day could be a career. 

“I thought that was the coolest thing ever and I fell in love with that idea,” he said. “Yeah, I wash laundry and I fix helmets, but it’s so rewarding. After the Princeton game last week (a 31-7 victory), I knew I had a hand in it. I helped make it happen.

“It’s a weird, wonderful feeling that you never forget.”

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Ryan Finley poses with an example of Dartmouth’s alternate style helmet used earlier this season. Staffers worked for hours with the decals used on both the traditional and Pine Tree designs. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.