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Steubenville CC grad Mannie ends 45-year football coaching career

STEUBENVILLE — He lived a Spartan lifestyle for a quarter of a century, and loved every minute of it.

Ken Mannie was Michigan State’s head strength and conditioning coach for the past 25 years. The 1970 Steubenville Catholic Central grad announced his retirement earlier this month, dropping the curtain on a 45-year coaching career.

Mannie is the brother-in-law of Steubenville Big Red football coaching legend Reno Saccoccia.

“My wife and I have been thinking about this (retirement) for the past few years. Last January we decided that the 2019 season would be my final one coaching,” Mannie said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “I will be 68 this July. It is time to spend time with the family.

“Coaching is a demanding profession. The time constraints are great,” he added. “We have two grandchildren here in East Lansing. It is time to give more back to my wife and family.”

Mannie’s expertise as a strength and conditioning coach is reflected in that he worked for four different head coaches at Michigan State. Most times, a new head coach brings in his own staff.

“I first came to Michigan State with Nick Saban. We worked together at the University of Toledo. Coach Saban left Toledo to become Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns,” Mannie said. “After he spent four years with the Browns, I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning from him. He asked, “are you sleeping?” I responded jokingly that I just finished my final set of pushups for the night.

“He said that he was going to be named head coach at Michigan State the next day and that he wanted me to go with him. Coach Saban said that he was picking me up the next morning on his way to East Lansing. I have been here ever since,” the former Crusader added. “I have had a lot of great opportunities to leave. I could have went to LSU, Ohio State and Alabama. All three went on to win national championships. I may put on my tombstone that I passed on more national championships than any coach in history.”

After graduating Catholic Central, Mannie continued his academic and football careers at the University of Akron. He was a two-year starter for the Zips.

Mannie subsequently cut his coaching teeth at his alma mater.

“After 10 years of coaching high school, I wanted to see if I could do it on the college level. I landed a graduate assistant’s position at Ohio State. I was the oldest GA there. They called me grandpa,” Mannie said. “It was there that I met Mark Dantonio (recently retired Michigan State head coach and Zanesville High grad). Ohio State proved a springboard for my college career.”

And what a career it was.

Mannie was enshrined into the USA Strength/Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame, Collegiate Division, in 2014. He was also named the Football Scoop Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2015 when Michigan State won a Big Ten title and reached the College Football Playoff.

Moreover, the Spartans’ closed out the 2017 season with a Holiday Bowl win over Washington State in San Diego. The junket featured a tour of the USS Essex. While aboard, Mannie was presented with the Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Trophy as the individual who embodies dedication and teamwork but doesn’t receive much recognition.

“The reason we stayed here for 25 years is that we love it here. East Lansing is a lot like Steubenville except for a big university in it. It is a close-knit community,” Mannie said. “We watched our daughter grow up here, go to school at Michigan State and now work for the university. It’s been a great life here,” he added. “Now I want to give back to the coaching profession. The most influential people in my life have been my former teachers and coaches. They had a positive impact on me and help to shape me. I would like to do the same for young coaches.”

Michigan State earlier this month hired Mel Tucker to replace Dantonio as its new head coach. Tucker asked Mannie to stay on to lead the Spartans’ strength and conditioning program. Mannie, after a couple of days to ponder the offer, remained steadfast to his decision to retire.

Mannie is married to the former Marianne Saccoccia. They have one daughter, Alaina, a 2010 Michigan State grad. They also have two grandchildren.

OVAC HOF

FORMER STEUBENVILLE Catholic Central basketball great Don “Kip” McLane is the latest addition to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. The story last week on McLane’s HOF selection contained some inaccuracies.

McLane rates among the best hoopsters ever to suit up at Steubenville Catholic Central. McLane put together a dominating senior year for the Crusaders. He averaged 25.4 points and an amazing 20 rebounds a contest.

Not surprisingly, a slew of honors came his way following that memorable campaign. He was tabbed first team all-OVAC, all-District and District 5 player-of-the-year.

Moreover, McLane was selected by both UPI and AP as a first-team all-Ohio honoree. He was also chosen to play in the Ohio North/South All-Star Game.

McLane was named to a pair of All-American teams: The U.S. Basketball Writers Association Coach and Athletic Magazine and the Surildst Growers A-A squad. He ended his Steubenville Central career with 1,008 points and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

McLane received a basketball scholarship to Duquesne University where he was a three-year starter.

He died on Dec. 12, 2014, at the age of 61.

BUBBA’S BITS

LAST WEEK in this space we talked about the PAC 8 basketball championships. Not to be overlooked is one of the Ohio Valley’s largest and most competitive junior high tournaments. The Al Glitch Junior High Invitational is staged each February at St. Clairsville High. Last weekend’s seventh championship game featured two excellent squads before a packed house. Steubenville Harding (17-2) downed St. Clairsville (16-2) by a 51-37 count in the title tilt. Aiden Davis and Will Taylor each netted 19 points for Harding while Tyson Pastor led the Red Devils with 16 counters while Brady Schafer added nine tallies.

THE ST. THOMAS University men’s basketball team is an impressive 19-5 this season. The Florida-based institution is coached by D.P. Harris. The Wheeling Park grad is in his first year at St. Thomas after authoring a hall of fame coaching career at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

THE UNIVERSITY of North Alabama women’s basketball team is 17-8 this season. Former Bellaire High and West Liberty hoopster Missy Tiber is the Lions’ head coach.

ST. JOHN Central Academy in Bellaire is holding a free soccer clinic for boys and girls in grades 4-8 on March 18th and March 25th. The camp will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Registration will start at 6 p.m. at the door and close at 6:30. The camp will be directed by Wheeling University head soccer coach Jim Regan, West Liberty head men’s coach Sean Regan and West Liberty head women’s coach Barry Christmas. Campers should bring their own soccer ball. Shinguards are recommended. For additional information, call 740-312-3185.

KRISTIN LEWICKI returned to professional hockey last weekend, playing two games with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. The John Marshall grad scored one goal and dished out two assists while playing under a Professional Tryout Agreement. Her stellar play in those two games earned her a contract with the Beauts for the remainder of the season. Lewicki played with Buffalo two years ago and with the Metropolitan Riveters last season. She scripted an All-American hockey career at Adrian College, finishing her career with 90 goals and 89 assists. Lewicki was the Division III Women’s Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season.

THE SUPER SIX is staying in Wheeling for four more years. The West Virginia SSAC made that decision Wednesday. It was a no-brainer. I have said repeatedly that the Super Six will never leave the Friendly City. Kudos to Super Six co-chairmen Greg Stewart and Dwaine Rodgers as well as their army of volunteers.

AUDREY TINGLE was an all-Ohioan hoopster at Ridgewood High. The talented point guard has subsequently scripted a banner career at West Liberty University. The junior dandy is the first Lady Hilltopper to reach the 500 mark for rebounds, points and assists. She is the daughter of former River High hoop standout Jana Isaly and the cousin of Lady Pilot head girls’ coach Rick Isaly.

DON HERTLER Jr. has been named the new Conotton Valley High School football coach. He takes over for Mike Winland, who guided the Rockets to a 4-5-1 record in 2019. Hertler, age 58, began his hall of fame coaching career as an assistant at Conotton Valley in the mid-1980s. He was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2019 after resigning as the North Canton Hoover Vikings head coach in 2015. He also had a successful tenure at Garaway.

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