If there ever was a walking personification of lightning trapped in a human body, it is Kyle Wakefield, student manager for Ole Miss Men’s Basketball. As the team currently sits at 18-5 and an even 5-5 in the SEC, maintaining energy on and off the court has been top priority for first year Head Coach Chris Beard. This management philosophy is especially evident in Wakefield.
Hailing from Katy, Texas, Wakefield has quickly become a hero in Oxford. His official role in the program is that of a student manager, but his elite work ethic and passion elevate him from being “just” a student manager to a university-wide inspiration.
“I help set up practices, and (I’m) a professional floor scrubber,” Wakefield said. “I’ve been called the ‘electric mop guy’ or just the ‘mop man.’ I just go out there and give it 110% day in, day out, and wake up with a positive state of mind.”
A video of Wakefield enthusiastically mopping the court after Ole Miss’ win against Mississippi State on Tuesday, Jan. 30, has made the rounds on campus and across the media landscape, including ESPN’s Marty and McGee show.
“My end goal every game is to put the team in the best position to win a ballgame. That’s the number one goal and priority for me,” Wakefield said. “Everything has to be set up in a way that allows the coaches and the players to succeed.”
Wakefield’s love for Ole Miss Basketball and the university itself knows no bounds, which is evident in everything about him. If you happen to spot him on campus, he usually sports Ole Miss gear and an infectious smile — he truly eats, sleeps and breathes Ole Miss.
“He’s always bringing the passion and energy to the student section every game he’s out there,” junior sports management major Sebastian Hineman said. “It’s obvious that he genuinely loves what he does and that fires us up as well.”
That he does, as you can often see him throwing his arms up to the student section as they cheer him on for cleaning the floor or completing his other managerial duties. Many coaches, Beard included, will tell you that it is crucial to have someone like Wakefield as a part of your program. Someone that can take some of the pressure off of the players while keeping the crowd engaged is priceless.
“We’re trying to get players that have the heart and unselfishness and competitiveness and just love what they do, as Wakefield does,” Beard said.
Wakefield brings a much-needed spark to Ole Miss Basketball. He does it not out of self- gratification, but for the betterment of a team that he loves so much.
“I’m just there for the players,” Wakefield said. “I think they see my energy and me giving it my all and it fuels them even more than they already are.”