BY COREY GESFORD
Despite back-to-back District II titles, many program firsts, and the core of that team returning, Susquehanna Girls Basketball Coach Errol Mannick is moving on.
After five seasons at the helm of Susquehanna Community’s girls program, Mannick has accepted a position with Lackawanna College and will become an assistant on Joya Whittington’s staff.
It’s a decision that did not come easily for Mannick who in the past five seasons has helped turn Susquehanna from an also ran into one of the top girl’s teams in the area.
“The hardest part is leaving the girls and my assistant, Gina Baker,” said Mannick. “The relationships you make and friendships you forge working day-in and day-out for five months are important.”
Mannick, a New Milford Township resident, also cited that his work schedule as a Personal Physical Fitness Trainer has become more hectic due to an expanding client base. Based in Scranton, the commute to Susquehanna was demanding. And since assuming the Head Coach position for the Lady Sabers, Mannick and his wife, Sara, have seen their family grow to include a daughter and son.
Susquehanna won its second consecutive District II Class A Basketball title in March and the program’s first Lackawanna League title. The Lady Sabers were upset in the District II/District 11 subregional and failed to qualify for the state playoffs as they had in the 2016-17 season. However, the core of those two teams, League All Stars Taylor Huyck and MacKenzie Steele and rising seniors Bethany Maby and McKenzie Rhone return to defend their titles and make Susquehanna one of the teams to watch at the state level in Class A.
“These girls (at Susquehanna) work extremely hard and I respect them immensely,” Mannick said.
No matter the records and accolades, Mannick is most proud of being a part of the change in culture at Susquehanna’s girls’ basketball program.
“It was the number one goal I had going into the situation, to try and change their mindset,” said Mannick. “They had lost so much for so long, and being part of the changing of that has been my most enjoyable part of the journey.”
Mannick contributed a lot of that change to Assistant Coach Baker, who has served on his staff since coming to Susquehanna and considers her an integral part to the program’s success. “She supported me a 100 percent, but also held me to task when there were things I needed to change or get better,” said Mannick. “There are few people that I respect and care about as much as her.”
Susquehanna players were surprised by the unexpected news and are anxious to see what lies ahead for the program.
“We were a little shocked,” said Maby. “But after thinking about it, it will be interesting to have a new coach, and I’m excited for him (Mannick) and wish him well at Lackawanna.”
Susquehanna will address Mannick’s resignation at tonight’s school board meeting and will hope to have a replacement by the September 19 meeting, according to District Superintendent Bronson Stone. “He did an outstanding job, and will be missed,” Stone said.
Stone praised Mannick’s tenure at the school and felt that his flexibility was a key to building the success that the Lady Sabers enjoyed.
“He was not a static coach,” said Stone. “He was always willing to adapt his ideas to fit his players’ abilities and those of the teams they faced.”
Aside from his new role at Lackawanna College, Mannick will continue to serve as the girls’ varsity soccer coach at Abington Heights High School.
Mannick has a history of success at the high school level having led Mountain View girls’ soccer team to several District II titles and first state playoff wins and competing for Lackawanna League championships as the girls basketball coach.
He also revived both the Riverside and Lackawanna Trail girls’ basketball programs after several down seasons.
Aside from Susquehanna, Blue Ridge varsity girls’ basketball is the only other team in Lackawanna League Division IV team looking for a head coach. Paula Finn stepped down at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season; and renowned area girls basketball coach Ross Macciocco resigned shortly after accepting the position for personal reasons.