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Laurence Manning High School
Manning

Plenty of familiarity, success as Laurence Manning Academy coaching staff remains intact

 

By Justin Driggers

Special Correspondent

 

Manning – After dealing with a little bit of turnover in the previous season, the 2018-19 school year will feature pretty much the exact same varsity coaching staff as the one prior, Laurence Manning Academy Athletic Director Ben Herod said.

And that’s more than fine by him, he added.

“Status quo,” Herod said. “We like to try to keep our coaches and keep the coaches who enjoy being around the kids and like to work. I always like to stress that coaching isn’t a convenience. Our coaches understand that and know what it takes to put the time and the care into these kids to try to be a good influence on them.

“So our coaching staff in all areas has done a great job of doing that.”

That commitment has shown through in the last several years with plenty of success across multiple programs with baseball, softball, bowling and speed and strength winning multiple titles in recent years and the football program reaching the SCISA 3A championship game last season as well.

“Their continuing focus on developing players has led to continued success,” Herod said. “That’s a testament to the coaches and their work ethics.”

Longevity has also coincided with success as LMA has several varsity coaches returning who have been with their respective programs for a number of years now.

Robbie Briggs returns for his sixth season at LMA and has guided the Swampcats to the SCISA 3A title game in two of his previous five seasons at the helm.

“He’s averaging nine wins a season with us and he had over a 100 wins (as the coach) at Manning High School,” Herod said of Briggs. “So we expect him to continue having success.”

Others include boys basketball coach Will Epps, who guided LMA to the SCISA AAA title in 2012, and baseball coach Barry Hatfield whose squad won back-to-back SCISA AAA titles prior to last year.

“Coach Hatfield has done a great job with that group and will continue to do so when baseball starts again,” Herod said. “Coach Epps has been with us for a long time and we look for him to keep his program rolling. He always does a good job with that and making sure his kids are playing year-round.”

On the varsity softball side, Glenda Hodge will return for her second season leading the Lady Swampcats after taking over for legendary coach Maria Rowland last year. Rowland captured seven state titles during her tenure – including back-to-back ones her final two years at the helm.

“I think Glenda did a great job with our varsity softball program,” Herod said. “She came (into) a team that had been very, very successful under coach Rowland and she stepped in and kept that winning tradition alive.”

Also returning at the varsity level are bowling coach Jay Atkins and speed and strength coach Shawn McCord – each of whom has won state titles in recent years.

Herod is back as the track and field coach with Jodi Danback returning to the same position for the LMA cross country squads.

Vassar Turner and Heath Griffin will coach both varsity and junior varsity squads for tennis and volleyball, respectively. Robin Page again serves as the varsity and JV cheerleading coach.

Gary Bennett will again handle the coaching duties for the varsity girls basketball team with Patrick Lester and Dustin McGriff coaching sporting clays and soccer, respectively. Bon Gardner also returns as the golf coach for the Swampcats.

On the junior varsity side, Patrick Anderson will guide the Laurence Manning boys basketball squad with Jack Gibson handling the coaching duties for the girls.

McCord is back as the LMA JV football coach with Russ Jordan handling duties as the JV baseball coach.

Switching to B teams, Jordan will handle the football coaching duties for the Swampcats. Morgan Watt will serve as the boys basketball coach with Jackie Barwick and Maria Rowland handling duties on the girls side.

Amy Marshall rounds out the list as the head coach for LMA’s B-team softball program.

“Everybody looks at wins and losses and things like that, but to me the relationships and helping these young people be moral, ethical, good young adults – and having a positive impact on society is even more important than sports,” Herod said. “You can’t play sports forever, so teaching these young people how to be adults is kind of what coaching is all about. You teach them how to do something and then they go do it.

“So that’s something I want us to focus on and something we’re going to continue to focus on.”

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