This spring and summer, we’re bringing you an inside look at some of the most important volunteers at IBC – the coaches who lead our junior teams out every weekend. First up is Kevin Manning, a lifelong hoops addict who is in his first season as a Head Coach with the club, this year taking charge of the Under-14 Girls.
IpswichBasketball: Tell us a bit about your basketball background before you were coaching at IBC – how long have you coached basketball?
Kevin Manning: I’ve been in and around basketball in the local area for nearly 30 years. I first started playing basketball in the Ipswich & District Local League back in the 80’s, turning out for Westbourne. Over the years since I’ve also pulled on vests for clubs in Stowmarket and Bury. There’s a rumour I might even have a registration for the league this season thanks to Coach Lambert and his Kesgrave Kings.
During previous seasons I’ve performed a number of assistant coaching roles at the club and this is my first year as a Head Coach.
IB: Why do you coach, what’s in it for you?
KM: I love the game and it was important for me not to just be a supporter, but to play a part in enabling young players to experience and enjoy the sport. I’m just trying to pay it forward.
I didn’t realise how much enjoyment I would get out of coaching. Coaching tests you as a person, it’s often challenging but the payoff is huge. The kick you get out of the smallest achievements is amazing, such as when one of your players scores their first competitive basket, when a play is executed to perfection or when the entire bench jumps up in support of a teammate. This kind of stuff moves you, who wouldn’t want to be a coach?
IB: Who have been your main influences on your coaching career to this point?
KM: I’ve enjoyed gaining some great experience from working with current and previous IBC Coaches. I’m really grateful to Coach Lambert, Coach MacDonald and latterly Coach Rigby for the opportunity to work with them and for their generosity with their time and knowledge. Each one of these guys has helped shape the way I approach my coaching.
I do need to acknowledge Coach Drane’s importance in getting me to this point. If those other guys mentioned lit a ‘coaching fire’ in me, it was Coach Drane who then fanned the flames and offered me the opportunity to step up and lead an Ipswich team.
IB: What are your ambitions as a coach?
KM: I’ve got a shelf ready and waiting for some trophies, but possibly more importantly, I’d like to create a legacy of players who truly enjoyed playing the game, who have maximised their sporting potential and gained some great life experiences in the process.
A more short-term ambition for me is to create a successful team made up of players that I have heavily influenced and actively developed. This season I’ve been very fortunate to have such a great group of players for my first season. I inherited the makings of a strong team from Coach Rigby, with many of the girls already having a thorough knowledge of the game and considerable NBL experience.
IB: What do you like to do outside of basketball?
KM: There really isn’t a great deal of time left after my work and my commitments with the team. When I do find some free time, I’m nearly always listening to music. I spend a lot of time grate-digging, buying and listening to ‘proper’ dance, soul and R&B music.
I do seem able to find a lot of time to somehow manage to avoid entering the Club’s Triathlon each year. Maybe 2018 will be the year that I finally get on to the start line for that one.
IB: What makes Ipswich Basketball so special in your opinion?
KM: Any organisation is only as good as the quality of its people and there are a lot of extremely talented and dedicated individuals around this club. The club has united a great collection of coaches, players, families and supporters, and together as a group we seem to be consistently able to make good things happen.
We should be proud of what we have at IBC. We punch well above our sporting weight when you consider our geography and our pool of available resources, we manage to attract and shoehorn hundreds of people into the Copleston gym and we can make usually fine, upstanding members of the community sit at courtside and bang drums and cowbells for all they’re worth… Special isn’t the word for it.
IB: What are your goals with your team for the remainder of the season?
KM: The first half of our season has contained a real mixture of results from a tough-to-take single point loss, an even harsher 50 point loss, through to convincing 60 and 70 point victories. For the second half of the season I want us to find an even higher and more consistent level of performance to make sure that we secure post-season action as soon as possible.
IB: What has been the highlight of your coaching career so far?
KM: Without a doubt, it was collecting my very first ‘pink sheet’. Looking back, I think my excited pacing back and forth past the officials table whilst I waited for it may have come across as a little desperate! I felt like a kid at Christmas getting that sheet. It’s only right, therefore, that there will always be a special place in my heart for that team from Bury St. Edmunds that helped get my coaching career off and running.