The team behind the team

Meet the team behind the team. Life@TheU celebrates University staff, faculty, and student employees. Here we high five just a handful of the stellar supporting cast that ensures our players are game ready—for every game.
Meet the team behind the team. Life@TheU celebrates University staff, faculty, and student employees. Here we high five just a handful of the stellar supporting cast that ensures our players are game ready—for every game.

Game ready? This team is.

by Life@TheU

Hours, even days, before the referee’s first whistle that signals the start of each game, the team behind the team is hard at work—laundering 111 sets of pants and jerseys, casting new mouthguards, stacking hundreds of rolls of adhesive tape; tightening chin straps; loading the 53-foot tractor trailer with trunk after trunk of shoulder pads, helmets, knee braces, medicine chests; perfecting tosses and somersaults, tuning tubas and tightening snares; ensuring that the TV cameras work and that the referees get from their hotels to the field safely and on time—and so much more.

This team behind the team has a mountain of responsibilities and tasks that must be done—and done expertly—before our beloved ’Canes football team even takes the field. There’s no tunnel of smoke for them to run through, no booming cannon that signals their “job well done,” so here’s to celebrating just a few of the fabulous team of ’Canes employees and student volunteers who make every game day such a huge win for the University.  

the bird

9 feet of glory

Before each game, a 9-foot tall Sebastian is wheeled onto the concourse. Have you seen the towering mascot?
the bird

Up your shoe game

Which gameday color combination will the 'Canes debut? Counting cleats, confirming colors, and loading lockers is an essential piece of pregame preparations.

Chew on this

Each mouthpiece is hand molded by an athletic trainer and there are always extra on hand. Some players chew through four mouthpieces per game.

Meet the team behind the team

Meet: Kaylee Shaver, graduate assistant athletic trainer, football and rowing

Shaver, who’s pursuing her masters in sports management, is learning—constantly—on the job. “We’re really trying to prevent the guys from getting injuries, so we provide a range of treatments. For the most part, they really know how to take care of their bodies,” she says. She started last year as a volunteer, this year she’s a “preceptor”—helping to mentor the first-year trainers. Her team’s workweek starts on Sundays—restocking and cleaning out the trunks of equipment. Organization and consistency are key. “We need to make sure everything is in its same place every week,” Shaver says. A major task is to make sure the players have all the mouthguards they need. They gnaw through several each game—offensive lineman chew through three or four. Shaver follows a dentist’s casting to make sure players have the style they want.

Meet: Jay Rees, director of the UM Band of the Hour

Rees looks like a music guy—green paisley tie, flamingo sneakers, orange shirt, tan suit, shoulder-length hair pulled into a ponytail—and he surely is. In his fifth year heading the 140-strong “Band of the Hour,” he’s proud that “we have the most diverse student population of any organization on campus.” Some are music majors, but many are student musicians—majoring in marine science, pre-med, architecture—who simply love being part of this exciting music show. “We’re the soundtrack to the game itself,” Rees says. The band practices upwards of nine hours weekly, and their task is complicated and physical: marching, moving, performing dance choreograph—and all while playing music. “The band is so much about ‘right now,’” he says, “really in the moment and engaged in what we’re experiencing.”

The making of a hurricane

From sunrise to sunset, the team behind the team knows what it takes to be a Miami Hurricane. Follow the behind the scenes stories of the staff and students who make game days come to life.

Meet: Beverly Hew, assistant coach, cheerleading and spirit squad

Hew coaches the Spirit Squad—the all-women cheerleaders, the co-ed cheerleaders, and the Sun Sensation dancers. At a pre-season camp in mid-August, members begin learning choreography, partner stunts, and cheers—and begins to “mesh as a team.” While many of the women have been cheerleading since they were little, most of the men have little or no experience. The squad’s job, for football, volleyball, and baseball, and for a range of community service events through the year, is to ramp up the spirit and pump up the crowd. “Time management and a coachable attitude are important,” says Hew, who met her husband when she was a student on the squad. “But most important is the ability to bleed orange-and-green.”

Meet: David Case, assistant athletic director of equipment operations

Case manages a staff of four full-timers and 15 student trainers. “It’s on us to keep the men ready,” he says. Case’s team ensures that all the equipment—including uniform pieces for the 111 players, clothes for the coaches, everything the team needs—are at the stadium, wherever the team is playing. Game days are 15 to 18 hours long, and “then we’re back at it on Sundays.” He monitors the weather to know if certain cleats or equipment will be needed and is ready to address any coach’s whim. In his sixth season at the U and 18th overall as a trainer, he says: “It’s a big production, and there are a lot of moving parts.” His mantra? “Adapt, adjust, and be flexible.”

Meet: Iva Early, assistant director of events

Early’s job is a cinch—make sure that everything runs seamlessly on game day. Her Mondays kick off with staff meetings with 40-50 members from the athletic department to coordinate tasks throughout the week, including stadium walkthroughs to check TVs, mics, and all the technology. On game days, Early’s a whirlwind—racing to the press box, to the locker rooms, to a security entrance. Got a problem? Iva knows what to do. She loves her hard-working teammates and her ’Canes. She’s got a degree in psychology and says: “I use it every day!”

Meet: Vinny Scavo, associate athletic director, head athletic trainer

If the going gets tough, Scavo is the guy you want in your ringside corner—or on your sideline. After about 36 years in the industry, having joined the U in the '80s, he’s a steady hand and a seasoned trainer. On game day, his team makes sure the players have what they need—that they’re taped properly, got the right braces on, that they’re in the right frame of mind, and “healthy enough to go out there to play.” Scavo oversees a staff of 14, including full-time certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, students, medical professionals, an anesthesiologist on the sidelines, and fire rescue personnel. “We want to make sure everything is ready so if we have to take care of a bad situation we’re prepared for it,” he says. “It’s on us to keep the men ready.”

The drumline is lit!

Frost's Band of the Hour is the first college drumline to install lights on their drums that light up with different colors while they play.

On the road again

Prior to gameday everything needed for the team on and off the field is driven from Coral Gables to Hard Rock Stadium.

65,326 crowd capacity

Approximately 450 security personnel and about 600 guest experience personnel, check tickets and serve as greeters while managing the flow at Hard Rock Stadium.

We're all about the U!

Life@TheU celebrates faculty, staff, and student employees at the U. Whether front and center or behind the scenes, there are many students and staff members who are essential to game day success. While each team member is not featured within this special feature, we welcome your stories and experiences at

Go 'Canes!

Video and photography: T.J. Lievonen/University of Miami