All of us have dreams, things we want to accomplish, achievements we seek to attain. A much smaller number possess the boldness to step out on a limb and attempt to make our dreams reality. We fear the unknown. We fear failure. But when we refuse to be restrained by these fears, we can surprise even ourselves.
This is the story of how one young man knew what he wanted, and went for it (and won a National Championship in the process). This is the story of Logan Baumann, manager of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team.
Born and raised in nearby Hartford, Kentucky, Baumann found an early home on the hardwood of the basketball court. As a child, like most kids with a ball, he dreamed of one day playing in the NBA. But as he aged into high school, reality sunk in. Despite leading the Ohio County Eagles to four straight district championships, and being honored as the Third Region Player of the Year, Baumann quickly realized that professional basketball was probably out of the question. This isn’t to say that he gave up on a dream too easily, but when you stop growing at 6’0” tall, and you learn that there are only enough spots for 360 people in the entire world to play on an NBA roster – well, you do the math.
No, Baumann didn’t give up. Rather, he channeled more of his time and energy toward his academics. His new goal became getting his college education paid for while playing basketball. During his senior season, there was no shortage of suitors for Baumann’s academic and basketball talents. Centre, Transylvania, and Furman all showed interest in Baumann as a result of his schoolwork and his work on the court. However, none of those institutions offered a clear opening into the world of coaching, which had been a passion of Baumann’s almost since he began playing basketball.
For the opportunity to cut his teeth in the coaching world, Baumann looked to his older brother’s alma mater. While he knew that eventually landing a major college coaching position wasn’t as easy as saying you once worked for a hall of famer, Baumann knew it wouldn’t hurt his chances either. So, with his sights set on coaching, he began to pursue a position as team manager under Coach Rick Pitino.
Anyone who follows college basketball is aware of the student managers sitting on the bench with the team. How they attained those positions, however, may be less obvious. According to Baumann, “Most of the people who become managers are friends of the team, coach or boosters.” Lacking those connections, Baumann took a different, more unconventional route to his goal of becoming a manager at UofL. “I actually sat down and wrote letters, a letter every week, to 10 or 12 people in the basketball office,” Baumann said. Those letters, which he also sent via email, were mailed in a manila envelope, which also included some of Baumann’s game film, and his official stat sheets from his time at Ohio County High School. In the letter, Baumann provided the basketball staff with a short synopsis of his goals, what he hoped to achieve as manager, and how he could benefit the team. After mailing over 100 letters to the basketball staff, Baumann finally got the response he was hoping for. Vinny Tatum, the equipment manager, contacted Baumann to let him know that his persistence had paid off, and that he had secured a spot as manager on the 2012-2013 University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Team.
When his duties as manager started, there was a lot to learn, according to Baumann. “For some,” Baumann said, “the whole idea of being manager is about the gear and prestige, and being on the sidelines. For me, it was about getting a better perspective about coaching and being in the huddle, being in practice. It’s a learning process, and the best part is being able to learn from Coach Pitino.”
Baumann reached his goal when he was named as one of the managers of the Louisville basketball team, and was able to attend the university on an academic scholarship. What came next was the icing on the cake. Early last year, during his freshman year, and first as a manager, Coach Pitino called Baumann into his office. Unsure of why Coach had called the meeting, Baumann was surprised to find out that he was being asked to join the team as a player. After another guard had gone down with a season-ending knee injury, Coach Pitino gave Baumann the opportunity to play for one of the top college basketball programs in the country.
From there, Baumann and the Cards went on to win the 2013 NCAA National Championship. Still, when asked about his favorite memory as a player, Baumann points to the less obvious 5-overtime loss to Notre Dame. This choice of memories is reflective of Baumann’s outlook on his basketball career, and on what he values in life. While the excitement and prestige of a national championship would certainly be at the top of most players’ lists of memories, Baumann saw the difficult loss as a valuable learning experience. “How do you proceed on from something like that? After that loss, I learned from Coach Pitino in how he motivates, and what to do when guys mess up.”
This year, Baumann has returned to his position as manager, and couldn’t be more content. “Now I don’t have to worry about making a three or guarding Russ Smith off the dribble. In watching the coaching staff, I can focus on how best to put the players in position to succeed offensively and defensively.” Quotes like these demonstrate Baumann’s commitment to learning and his continuing desire to chase his dream of coaching. Even having experienced life as a player on a national champion, Baumann hasn’t lost sight of his ultimate goal of becoming a collegiate coach. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to change a kid’s life through a ball and a basket.”
While some call Baumann “lucky,” his tale of hard work and dedication serves to prove them otherwise. “People tell me all the time I got lucky, but if you put yourself in a position to be lucky and prepare yourself, stories like mine can happen. It’s about putting yourself in a position to succeed.” Success has certainly not evaded him. Having the foresight to know what he wanted, Baumann took steps early on to shape his own future, and now finds himself exactly where he hoped he’d be – well on his way to a career in coaching and making a positive impact on the lives of his future players.
[tw-divider]By the Numbers[/tw-divider]
- Averaged 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and buried 69 three-point goals as a senior in helping Ohio County to a 29-3 record, the 10th District Championship and a No. 9 ranking in the state of Kentucky.
- Honored as the Third Region Player of the Year and honorable mention all-state as a senior, was ranked among the top 20 players in the state of Kentucky and was invited to the Kentucky Senior All-Stars tryouts.
- Ranked fifth in the state in three-point goals as a junior, hitting 87-of-240 (.367) of his three-point attempts as Ohio County posted a 15-13 record.
- Scored over 1,000 career points at Ohio County, which won the 10th District Championship all four years he played with the Eagles. His single-game scoring high was 43 points against Meade County.