By Ana Braccialli
Every game, Ishmael Perkins, the men’s basketball team’s 22-year-old manager, would be on the sideline of the UT basketball team, right next to the bench, with his iPad to keep his own stats of the match.
“It was a classic scene that you would see in most of the games,” said Alcibiades Pereira, senior international business major. “I go to every home game, and Ishmael would be there watching the match and making his notes. It was fun to watch his interaction with the team and the respect that the team had for him.”
Perkins was not a typical member of the team. With a lot of positive energy, he would bright everyone’s day with kindness, motivation and support for the team.
On Feb. 7, Perkins died due to muscular dystrophy.
“Ishmael was a pleasure to work with. He always had a smile on his face,” said Justin Pecka, associate head coach of the men’s basketball team. “He was always excited to be on the court, in the film room, and in the locker room.”
“Smile” is the word that best describes Perkins. According to Vincent Biffle, junior guard, he was a positive influence and always kept a huge smile on his face every time they would see each other.
“He was very quiet but his presence was always felt,” said Biffle. “When you talked to him it felt like nothing mattered but to remain happy in every situation. He added a huge sense of inspiration.”
According to Pecka, Perkins was a student-manager for Wharton High School before he came to UT. During his first week of class of his freshman year, he stopped by the office and said that he loved basketball and wanted to help out the team.
“The last four years, he has been just like any other player on our team. He ate, traveled and came to practice with us,” said Pat Bacon, senior guard. “It was like he was one of us. Ishmael was always cheering us on to the best we could be.”
Basketball was always Perkins’ passion. He was in his fourth year as a student-manager for the UT basketball team and according to Biffle, he interned with the Orlando Magic basketball team this past summer. He had the chance to experience his biggest dream of being a manager of a professional team and to see what is it like to be around professional players.
“Ishmael would come to as many practices and games as possible,” said coach Pecka. “Specifically, we have a full court drill that we do at the beginning of practice. Ishmael would bring his counter and count our made baskets. If we don’t make 100 shots in four minutes, the guys have to do the drill again. He just loved watching and being around basketball.”
Perkins was loved by all the players on the team. Coach Pecka remembers seeing Perkins around the players talking to them before practice while they were warming up.
“He was in the office the day before. I said, “What’s up Ish!” It’s just crazy that you never know when you’re going to see someone for the last time,” said coach Pecka.
Perkins left his memories as a gift for the team, teaching them about gratitude and passion.
“If I learned anything from Ishmael it was to make the most of everything and that the memories you make with people is the best present you can give them,” said Biffle.
The men’s basketball team will be honoring Ishmael Perkins on senior night, on Feb. 27th, at Bob Martinez Center at the game against Eckerd College.
“His family will be accepting his senior picture. We’d love to have students that knew Ishmael to come out and pay your respects,” said coach Pecka.
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org