When the Valparaiso University women’s basketball season gets underway, Crusader fans will hear a new voice bellowing out phrases like “rebound!” and “defense!”
The voice will belong to assistant coach Clyde Manns, who plans to bring energy and enthusiasm to the staff while emphasizing the importance of defense and rebounding.
Valpo head coach Tracey Dorow has announced Manns’ hiring, completing a 2017-18 coaching staff that already includes veteran coach Justin Rees and former WNBA forward Megan Leuzinger. Manns is a former professional point guard and will work with the team’s guards this season.
“The most important piece was making sure we hired the right person for the players who are currently on our roster,” Dorow said. “After a lot of prayer and thought, Clyde just kept coming back in mind. He became more and more appealing and the confirmation became more and more clear. I wanted someone who will put their time in to make an impact on the Valparaiso women’s basketball program.”
Manns, who most recently served as an assistant on the men’s staff at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, is entering his 17th year in coaching. Before joining the coaching ranks, he had a successful professional playing career in the American Basketball Association (ABA), United States Basketball League (USBL) and the International Basketball League (IBL).
“I’m coming into Valpo to work and learn under a tremendous coaching staff,” Manns said. “Once I came in to see the facilities and talked to Coach Dorow, I knew Valpo was a place I could see myself making a difference. My beliefs and faith are very important to me, so Valpo being a faith-based institution peaked my interest. I’m excited to be part of a school with such a rich tradition.”
Manns was an assistant coach at La Roche College for six seasons, including an Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship team in 2003-04. From there, he became the head men’s coach at Penn State-Greater Allegheny from 2008-2014, taking his team to three conference playoff appearances.
Penn State-Greater Allegheny had won only five games in two years before Manns’ arrival, and won 10 games his first season and 14 games his second year, helping Manns finish as the conference’s Coach of the Year runner-up. Manns joined the Washington & Jefferson coaching staff prior to the 2015-16 season, then spent the 2016-17 season at Chatham, where he helped the Cougar men reach the Presidents’ Athletic Conference playoffs as a second-year program.
“Clyde’s coaching priorities and teaching of the little things will immediately raise the bar in our program,” Dorow said. “He wants to impact kids’ lives and help guide them in the right direction. He’s a father figure; he has two girls who are similar in age to our players. I think our kids will really gravitate toward him.”
Manns has already watched film of Valpo’s returning players and read information about the incoming freshmen online, so he comes to the position having built a knowledge base about the team.
“I love giving back and helping young people reach their fullest potential,” Manns said. “I’m always willing to give back and willing to teach the things that have been taught to me. Someone taught me the game, so I love to teach others the game.”
In addition, Dorow has announced the hiring of Kevin Clark II as the team’s Director of Basketball Operations. Clark graduated from Liberty in 2015 and served in a variety of capacities with the Flames’ women’s basketball program, most recently as a graduate assistant.
“His heart and soul is in basketball,” Dorow said. “He’s a great guy and he’ll be a good role model and excellent communicator. He has a good understanding of what it takes to keep the program going, and he’s very professional. He wants to go into coaching, so he’s excited about the basketball side and what he can learn from our staff.”
Dorow’s sister Andy Bloodworth is a member of Liberty’s staff as an assistant coach, and Valpo assistant coach Megan Leuzinger is a former standout player at Liberty.
Clark started his time at Liberty serving as a women’s practice team player and men’s manager, then became an intern with the women’s program before being elevated to graduate assistant. He also spent time in the Liberty sports information department as a student worker. Clark played two years of college basketball, one season each at Southern Connecticut State (2011-12) and Eastern (2012-13).
“When Liberty played at Valpo last year, I was on the bench against Tracey and their staff,” Clark said. “I really enjoyed watching Tracey coach and seeing the type of program she’s running. In my talks with her, I figured out the type of person she is and her personality. Her vision for the program and the girls is next-level.”
Clark’s role will include administrative duties, serving as a communications liaison, coordinating travel, assisting in team marketing, overseeing video and assisting the coaching staff in game preparation.
“I’ve known Kevin for a while through my sister, and he’s always been very friendly and personable,” Dorow said. “All of the things that we want our Director of Operations position to move into and start doing are things he wants to do. We are eager for Kevin to hit the ground running at Valpo. He has already started to take initiative in creating more excitement for our program and I can’t wait to see him here in action.”