Oiling the Big Green Machine
Hartford High Grad Keeps Everything Flowing
Dartmouth director of football operations Joey McIntyre. Valley News - Tris Wykes
Joey McIntyre, Dartmouth College's director of football operations, stands with head coach Buddy Teevens, right, after the Big Green's charter flight landed in Indianapolis last month. McIntyre, 30, is a former Hartford High and Castleton State athlete who is in his second year on the job. Valley News - Tris Wykes
Hanover — The Dartmouth College football team landed in Indianapolis late last month and a patch of tarmac to one side of the Big Green’s chartered airplane soon churned with activity.
In town to face Butler the next night, Dartmouth’s players, coaches and support staff filed onto a trio of waiting buses. Baggage handlers wrestled trunks, boxes and duffel bags out of the plane’s belly and onto a sloped conveyor belt, while equipment managers and medical trainers hustled them into the buses’ cargo bays and several administrators paced the pavement, chattering into cell phones.
Standing to one side, head coach Buddy Teevens conferred with Joey McIntyre, his director of football operations and a 2001 Hartford High graduate. At issue was whether the team had time for a scheduled tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, legendary home of open wheel and stock car racing.
Teevens, wound tight as a triple-tied knot, worried his squad would be late for a light practice at Butler’s field later in the afternoon. McIntyre, who was responsible for virtually every detail of the trip, reassured the coach that the timetable would work. And even if things ran a bit late, the chance to see the racetrack wasn’t to be missed.
“I trust him,” Teevens said. “So we went to the Speedway.”
The reaction from the coaches and players justified the detour. When the group reached the famous finish line, dozens of photos were taken of grown men kneeling to kiss the bricks.
McIntyre got into a few pictures as well, but there were dozens more details to confirm.
Would the designated mix of lunchmeats be laid out at the hotel for a quick snack before practice? Would the rooming arrangements be correct and would the proper spaces be set aside for position meetings and medical treatments that night? And how bad would rush-hour traffic be en route to Butler’s campus and would the locker room facilities be in order?
“Our world is like this,” Teevens said this week, spreading his arms wide. “And Joey understands every aspect of it.”
The 30-year old is a quick learner, for he’s only been on the job 15 months. While he entered with energy, charm and a sports background, he was an almost total neophyte when it came to the inner workings of a Division I football program. Fans see the results for three hours on 10 Saturdays during the fall, but most would be stunned at the amount and complexity of labor that goes into putting a competitive team on the field.
Dartmouth has 11 football coaches, including Teevens. There’s also a full-time video man, some part-time video assistants and a couple of office secretaries. Teevens used to oversee them all. While he still does on paper, it’s McIntyre who makes those cogs and pistons pump smoothly, and in time.
When is Dartmouth’s dining hall open and what are the offered entrees tonight? Which players have afternoon classes and labs that might conflict with practice? Who’s that unknown man recording practice with his camera phone? And why are those blocking dummies still in the shed and not out on the field?
Questions and answers. They fill up McIntyre’s 15-hour work days. New brush fires ignite as soon as old ones are extinguished. An out-of-town reporter wants Teevens for a podcast interview. An in-town reporter needs three players for a post-practice chat. A recruit’s mother is on the phone with a myriad of questions.
It never ends, but McIntyre has learned to steal private moments when he can. A break from the madness to assess the day so far, to slow his mind and recharge his batteries at lightning speed.
“Sometimes I just need a quiet room and time to think,” he said. “The previous three hours may have been hell on wheels, but in those five or 10 minutes of quiet, I write things down and process my thoughts because I know when I go back through the door, it may be another three hours of chaos.”
Here, however, is the thing that makes McIntyre a rising star: his demeanor rarely betrays the pressure created by his workload. He may have limited time to talk, and he may be walking, talking, texting and troubleshooting simultaneously. But you’re unlikely to see the recreational triathlete sweat.
“I’ve always been a high-energy guy,” McIntyre said. “I enjoy learning on the fly, but that can be double-edged sword because you’ll make mistakes while learning ways to do and not do things.”
To date, McIntyre’s biggest gaffe was not double-checking with a bus company contracted to ferry Teevens and 30 freshman players to an afternoon hike in Lyme last fall. When the company dropped the ball and no buses appeared in front of Leverone Field House at the designated time, Teevens was irate and McIntyre thought he might be out of a job after only a few months.
“We can laugh about it now, but I was petrified that I wouldn’t be coming to work the next morning,” McIntyre said. “I think the only reason he didn’t fire me on the spot was because all those kids were standing there with us.”
A frantic scramble ensued, with assistant coaches and their cars drafted into service, along with several taxi cabs. It all worked out in the end and the way the Butler trip unfolded flawlessly speaks to McIntyre’s deep devotion to detail. Dartmouth flew him to Indianapolis earlier this year so he could get a personal feel for what lay ahead.
“I’m the logistical arm of the program,” McIntyre said. “I handle everything to do with the program besides coaching.”
What appeared even a few years ago as somewhat of a wandering, out-of-focus path has actually served McIntyre well. He’s a self-described “late bloomer” who toiled at a half-dozen stops following his days as a standout football, hockey and lacrosse player at Hartford. The oldest of three brothers from a Sharon family headed by two nurses, McIntyre’s disinterest in academics led him to Bridgton Acadmey, 40 minutes north of Portland, Maine.
The institution is a one-year stop for postgraduate students looking to boost their athletic and academic performances enough to move on to college. McIntyre played in a defensive backfield with recruits headed to Michigan and Colorado. Although he’d hoped to play Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) football at the likes of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, he wound up at then-Division II Bryant, a little north of Providence, R.I. Injuries and lackluster study habits sent him packing after less than two years.
“I knew I wasn’t ready for college when I graduated from high school at 17,” McIntyre said with a rueful smile. “Turns out I wasn’t ready at 18 or 19, either. Moving back home was tough, because a lot of your friends are off at school and this is not how you had it planned in your mind.”
McIntyre waited tables at the Weathervane restaurant on Route 12A in West Lebanon, making a jump to the kitchen, where he found real enjoyment in the intricacies of cooking. The idea of living paycheck to paycheck wasn’t appealing, however, and he enrolled in Castleton State’s sports administration program after nine months.
Internships at a ski resort and with Dartmouth Athletics’ facilities department followed, along with two seasons on the Spartans’ winless hockey team plus a spring with the lacrosse squad.
A series of odd jobs followed after graduation.
McIntyre was also an assistant football coach at Hartford, where he worked with the freshman and varsity squads. After two years, he enjoyed it enough to think seriously about making coaching a career, and was in the process of applying to graduate school when he heard that Dartmouth’s director of football operations job had opened. Brian Mann, a former Big Green quarterback and graduate student, had moved to an administrative job in the athletic department and Teevens was on the hunt for a long-term replacement.
McIntyre’s application got a boost when Brian Austin, Dartmouth’s senior associate director of athletics, put in a good word.
“He had left a very favorable impression on me,” Austin wrote in an email, recalling McIntyre’s time as a facilities intern. “He seemed motivated, bright, eager to learn, and engaging. He also had a quiet confidence and toughness about him that I thought would serve him well. He’s developed faster than I could have imagined.”
Teevens was struck by McIntyre’s friendly, upbeat personality and his sports background. After his wife, Kirsten, and daughter, Lindsey, had their own chat with the candidate to let him know what working for the coach could be like, a deal was struck. It’s worked out wonderfully so far.
“He always has a smile on his face and everyone likes him,” Teevens said. “He has a subtle sense of humor and there’s nothing he won’t do, which I love. From picking up tape off the field, to arranging for a bus, to going to appointments with administrators, he’s exceeded my expectations and I appreciate the work he’s done.”
In addition to the job’s volume and variety, it comes with the X factor of dealing with Teevens’ distinct personality. The coach can be both compassionate and hard-bitten, and although he excels at small talk and is a master recruiter, when he’s on the job and wants something done he doesn’t beat around the proverbial bush.
“He’s gotten to understand my moods and how to roll with them,” Teevens said with a chuckle. “He’s got a thick skin, which I test frequently, because I’m real direct and harsh on occasion.”
McIntyre is essentially a filter for Teevens, handling waves of emails, phone calls and meetings, then summarizing their content and bringing them to the coach for feedback and approval. He works closely with the assistant coaches and the support staff and helps plan, orchestrate and oversee several important winter weekends when the program hosts dozens of recruits and their parents.
Because he’s closer in age to the players than most of the coaches, McIntyre is able to bridge the two groups well. Now more comfortable and experienced in his role, he’s able to offer frank advice and carefully crafted opinions to everyone from Teevens to influential alumni to student managers. It’s been a rapid turn of events for someone who once struggled to find his way.
“We’re quick to pigeonhole everybody and say that four years after high school, you should be out of college and have a career,” McIntyre said. “I’ve worked hard to get here, and I had to overcome a lot of things that happened because of my own actions or inactions.
“During the season, I spend more time with the people in this program than I do with my family. But we can pick on each other and laugh with each other — and on game days, we win or lose together.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.