Grayson Elmer, The 'Slam Dunk' Student Manager

By Zoe Linafelt

Grayson Elmer has always loved playing and watching sports. He’s done everything from flag football and baseball to gymnastics and taekwondo, and never let his cerebral palsy slow him down. He’s built his passion into a budding career.

As a student at Chiles High School in Tallahassee, he served three years as the student manager for the football team and volunteered with the Florida State University (FSU) women’s basketball camps.

“All the FSU managers there took me under their wing,” Elmer said.

After graduation, he attended Tallahassee Community College and served as the student manager for their women’s basketball team for three years under head coach Franqua "Q" Bedell. Elmer was responsible for a range of duties including filming the games and helping with clock, equipment, and laundry.

“He needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Bedell said. “To have him around was a gift and definitely a blessing for the program. If you could have anyone a part of your program that loves basketball like no other, loves the people he’s around, loves the people he’s working with, you couldn’t have anyone better than Grayson Elmer.”

In 2016, Elmer was recognized for his hard work with the Eddie Barnes Heart of a Champion Award, presented in honor of the Eagles' recently-retired head men's basketball coach.

When asked why Elmer was chosen for the award, TCC Athletic Director Rob Chaney said, “Because of the example he set, how willing he was to do whatever was asked of him … [He is] dependable, hardworking, and would go above and beyond whatever was asked. He had a great understanding and feel for the game and for what he was doing.”

Elmer returned to the FSU women’s basketball team as a student manager after graduating from TCC, and has been a vital member of the program ever since. His main job is to film the practices and games, which the coaches use for breakdown to help the players improve. He also rebounds balls, does some office work, helps out on the floor, and supports the coaches and team any way he can.

As he put it, “I’m volunteering, but I treat it like a job. When they need me, I’m right there.”

He acknowledges the obstacle of working with the use of only one hand due to his cerebral palsy, but all his supervisors, past and present, agree that’s never slowed him down.

Melissa Bruner, FSU Director of Basketball Operations, is a big fan. “We love having him because he’s a local guy, and he’s dedicated, committed, and willing to jump in. He’s always got a smile on his face. He has a great disposition and work ethic. He’s willing to work as hard and harder than anybody else.”

Elmer said he feels like he’s truly a part of the program. “When they come up to me, they’re so excited and energized—thanking me for all I’ve done, recognizing me for the work I’ve done. It’s a very tight bond—a family team.” His favorite highlight so far was traveling to the away game in Pittsburgh last year.

After graduation, Elmer would like to continue pursuing a career as a coach or athletic director. He said anyone interested in this field would do well to get involved and be prepared to work hard. Elmer certainly follows his own advice! He has accomplished so much already by building relationships and working hard—with surely more success to come.

Elmer's main job is to film the practices and games, which the coaches use for breakdown to help the players improve.

In 2016, Elmer was recognized by TCC for his hard work with the Eddie Barnes Heart of a Champion Award.