He comes to practice two hours early and stays until everybody leaves.
He travels to every away game and comes to every early morning training session. He spends more than 30 hours a week analyzing game tape, producing scouting reports and running stats through the computer.
Chris Birch does everything for the Penn State men's volleyball team -- except play on the court.
Birch, a senior, has been Penn State's manager for the past four years. And the No. 8 Nittany Lions don't know what they'd do without him.
"Chris does a remarkable job for us," coach Mark Pavlik said. "We're lucky to have a guy like him. He is one of the most valuable assets to our team."
While Birch is a virtual teammate, joking with players before practice and hanging out with them on weekends, he never envisioned being so immersed in the program. But volleyball has long been his passion, dating from his high school days in Reading, where he was an all-star setter and libero for Exeter High School.
Upon graduation, Birch -- whose 6-foot-2 stature is small by volleyball standards -- realized he could not play at a Division I powerhouse like Penn State, winner of 11 straight EIVA titles. But he wanted to stay involved with volleyball and asked Pavlik if he could help out in any capacity.
"Looking back, I had no idea what to expect," Birch said. "I thought I was going to be on the sidelines just scrounging for balls or something."
It didn't take long for the Lions to realize that Birch was more than just a ball boy.
He immediately impressed the coaching staff with his attention to detail and love of the game. So Pavlik asked him to become acquainted with DataVolley -- the sport's premier video analysis software -- and Birch soon found his niche.
"Growing up in the computer age, he learned the technology and just ran with it," assistant coach Jay Hosack said. "And he has totally mastered it. Chris is able to dissect each specific piece of the game and show it to us in compact form. So he brings quickness in terms of scouting and coaching."
At every practice, Birch eagerly stands on the court alongside the coaches and helps out with drills. And at every game, Birch is on the sideline feverishly computing stats into his laptop.
Birch has become so proficient as the Lions' statistician and manager that he garnered national recognition. In July, Birch was on staff of the U.S. Men's National A-2 team -- which featured former Lions Max Holt and Nate Meerstein -- for their gold-medal run at the Pan Am Games in Chiapas, Mexico. Later in the summer, USA Volleyball flew Birch to northern Italy to work with the U.S. Boys' National Team in the FIVB Boys' Youth (Under-19) World Championships.
"Chris is one of the absolute best at his position," said UC Santa Barbara coach Rick McLaughlin, who coached the A-2 team this summer. "He does everything with great precision."
McLaughlin liked Birch so much that he offered the Penn State senior a $20,000 salary to work with the Guachos full time this year.
"Man, that would be nice," Birch said with a laugh. "But I have to graduate first."
Next on the docket for Birch is grad school. He is looking for universities with strong sports management programs. Then, perhaps his dedication and knowledge of every facet of a team will enable him to land a successful career in coaching.
And Pavlik, who spent time as Penn State's manager under legendary coach Tom Tait, has great faith in Birch's aspirations. So much, that he already has Birch coaching in practice, specifically working with some of the younger guys like freshman standout Tom Comfort and sophomore setter Tor Covello.
"We love everything Chris has done," Pavlik said. "And I know with certainty that he will be a great head coach one day."