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March 23, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-23

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 23, 1995
Crisler Arena manager Lisa Panetta
tells of rookie year behind the scenes

By Steve Townsend
For the Daily
Crisler Arena stands silent now.
The darkened scoreboard may be a
depressing sight to some rabid Wol-
verine fansbutdon't ask Arena Man-
ager Lisa Panetta what she thinks of
Toher, theendoftheseason means
no more problems with the giant tech-
nological nightmare.
"The problems with the
scoreboard. That's what I'll remem-
ber about this season," Panetta said.
"Everybody kept looking at me even
though I didn't know what the hell I
was doing."
Everyone knows that seniors
Jimmy King and Ray Jackson ap-
peared in their final home game in a
Michigan uniform earlier this month
against Penn State. Noticeably less
publicized was that the victory was
also the last game of the season at
Crisler for seven Wolverine rookies:
six on the court and one in the arena
office as Panetta wrapped up her first
basketball season as manager of the
13,562-seat arena.
Panetta replaced long-time Crisler
manager Peter Alt last September
when he moved on to manage the
Track and Tennis Building as well as
Cliff Keen Arena, Oosterbaan Field
House and the Sports Coliseum, after
nore than seven years at Crisler.
Panetta reflected for a moment
ast week on her inaugural season as
'risler manager as she sat at her desk
n the office off the arena's main
Mementos of past great Michigan
eams adorn two of the office walls,
while the other two are covered by
;iant blue boxes of switches and lights
hat control the main functions of the
Arena.As she leaned back in her chair,
Panetta's overwhelming emotion
;eemed to be one of relief.
"Your first year of running any-
hing is going to be tough, and you
end to get burned out as the games
-o on," Panetta said between deal-
ng with interruptions ranging from
aundry problems with the men's
>asketball team to where to put the
iewly arrived NCAA Tournament
Panetta's typical workday starts at
7:30 aim. as she arrives at the arena
And attempts to address any problems
ierassistant, Mark Renfrew, may have
zncountered the night before. Then
;he performs a quick inspection of the

"The problems
with the
scoreboard. That'
what I'll remember
about this season.
Everybody kept
looking at me even
though I didn't
know what the hell
I was doing."
- Lisa Panetta
Crisler Arena Manager
entire arena to check for any major
She then plans the rest of the
day. She is likely to have at least
one meeting and more than one
major maintenance problem to at-
tend to.
"You are always determining what
needs to be done and who to call in to
do it, whether it be a plumber, electri-
cian, whatever," Panetta said.
This is the easy part of the day for
Panetta. If there is a game in the
evening, she may not leave the arena
until after midnight. "My average
event day this year has been about 16
hours," Panetta said.
Even if the schedule for the
evening is clear of games, the arena is
still a buzz of activity. "All three
teams have to be covered for prac-
tice," Panetta said.
This includes having the laundry
done for the wrestling team as well as
the men's and women's basketball
teams, having all three lockerooms
clean, and preparing Crisler's court
and wrestling practice room.
Although it goes unnoticed by
most, Panetta's work is appreciated
by many she deals with on a daily
Women's basketball assistant
coach Sandy Thomas called Panetta
"an extremely hard worker," and noted
Panetta's ability to excel even when
short-handed or confronted with last-
minute changes.
Men's basketball trainer Dave
Ralston agreed. He called Panetta's
performance in her first year "phe-
nomenal." Ralston also noted that


"I had been working for the Uni-
versity off-and-on since I started col-
lege and this just sounded interest-
ing," Panetta said.
In her time at the arena, Panetta
has notonly formed memorable work-
ing relationships with many Wolver-
ine coaches and players, she has also
made friends with many of the stu-
dents who have worked for her.
Panetta keeps enough students on staff
to allow for them to take unexpected
days off due to exams and last-minute
homework assignments.
"She understands what it's all
about to be a college student. She
knows the rigors we are going
through," said Crisler staff member
Kevin Caceres, an LSA junior.
According to student staff mem-
ber Brian Young, however, the
teacher's intuition in Panetta is still as
strong. "At first she didn't trust us a
lot because she was worried about
things getting done right, but she has
mellowed out a lot," said Young, an
Engineering senior. "She still checks
upon us occasionally though. It's like
she's grading us."
When asked to recall her favorite
athlete or coach in her time atCrisler,
Panetta was unable to single anyone
out. However, there was one incident
that stood out in her mind. It was a
motivational speech given by a coach
to the Michigan basketball team. Ironi-
cally, it was a football coach and not
a basketball coach who gave the
"It was in 1989, right after
(former Michigan coach Bill)
Frieder left and the NCAA tourna-
ment was about to start. Bo
Schembechler came in to talk to the
team. They were all sitting in the
North end zone of the arena."
Panetta recalls staying out of sight
in the arena tunnel to hear the legend-
ary coach and athletic director speak.
"He really went after them and I
guess he got them pretty fired up,"
Panetta added.
Pretty fired up might be an under-
statement. Six games later, the Wol-
verines were champions of the col-
lege basketball world.
Panetta was optimistic about the
long-term future of her fellow Wol-
verine rookies as they headed into
their first NCAA tournament last
week. "This group has the potential to
go far," Panetta said. "By their junior
year I think they will have a legiti-
mate shot to win it all."


Criser Arena scoreboard

Panetta "hasn't missed a beat," in
succeeding the highly respected Alt.
Alt also expressed admiration for
the job Panetta has done. "She knew
most of what was expected before she
took over," he said. "What she had to
learn on her own was the planning
strategies and how to handle the stress
Despite the stress inherent in the
job, the promotion from assistant has
been a fulfilling one for Panetta, who
has been involved with the Univer-
sity since arriving as a first-year stu-
dent in the fall of 1981 after graduat-
ing from Lakeview High School in St.
Clair Shores.
A three-sport athlete in high
school, Panetta went on to play four
years of softball forthe Wolverines as
an undergraduate while working her
way toward a degree from the School
of Education.
Panetta noted her odd academic
background for an arena manager. In
fact, she was looking for a full-time
teaching job when she saw the post-
ing for an open position at Crisler
Arena in 1988.

Just hanging around
Business senior Jeff Grant's uniformed monkey greets visitors yesterday
from the front porch of the Theta Xi Fraternity on Washtenaw Avenue.

Measure would wipe out
state affirmative action


LANSING (AP) - Affirmative
action would be wiped out in Michi-
gan under a proposed constitutional
amendment introduced yesterday by
a Macomb County lawmaker.
Rep. David Jaye (R-Utica) said
affirmative action programs cost the
state money and are unfair. The con-
servative said he has 3 f co-sponsors
- including one Democrat - and
another 12 lawmakers backing his
He said many of them do not want
their names tied to the effort yet and
declined to name most of them.
Jaye introduced a similar measure
three years-ago. He said he got 10
votes then, and is gaining support.

Jaye's resolution would apply to
state and local governments, state
colleges and universities and private
employers working on government
contracts or getting tax subsidies.
It would bar them from consider-
ing race, religion, sex, color, ethnicity
or national origin while filling jobs or
The resolution is modeled after a
California effort to end affirmative
action programs in state and local
governments there.
Jaye also said he is courting mi-
nority lawmakers who have tenta-
tively pledged their support if stron-
ger anti-discrimination laws are

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