Sunday, October 14, 2012
Former Radford coach led an exemplary life
Larry Mannon, who coached multiple sports, died Friday after battling a long illness. He was 57.
RADFORD - As a high school coach, Larry Mannon advocated the practice of winning ways: hard work, courage, tenacity, faith, doing things right.
In the manner of all good educators, Mannon didn't just stand on the sidelines and pontificate. He modeled the behavior. Such was the case until he died Friday at age 57.
The former Radford coach and teacher was one of the top four-sport athletes in Floyd County High School chronicles in his youth. Mannon was under constant care his last years as he suffered from an unnamed form of mental debilitation that left him progressively unable to function over a period of eight years.
Arrangements had been made previously for his brain to be donated to the Mayo Clinic for study.
"Maybe one day his family can have closure on this," said Frank Taylor, a family friend and high school biology teacher.
Mannon's Bobcats teams won the Group A boys tennis state title in 1999 and the 2005 girls basketball crown. The girls title came in Mannon's last year of coaching.
Mannon coached varsity golf in addition to football, boys basketball, and baseball at the eighth grade and JV level. The teams combined for almost 700 victories.
"Larry was the kind of coach who believed that you could motivate athletes to play their best without ever berating or yelling at them," said Taylor, whose son played basketball for Mannon. "He believed that his teams could win with positive reinforcement, encouragement, and by building up athletes, never breaking them down."
Through Mannon's illness, letters came in from his former athletes.
Wayne Lineburg, the son of former Radford athletic director Norman Lineburg and now a college football coach, recalled an episode in which he overslept and was late to JV basketball practice early one New Year's Day morning. Mannon benched Lineburg, a starter, for the first quarter of the next game. Lineburg wrote that that was a lesson in accountability.
"I must say, I don't think I was ever late for another practice in high school or college and I've never been late for work," Lineburg wrote.
Nikki Sydnor, one of the top players on the 2005 basketball championship team, wrote she'd never forget the confidence Mannon showed in her by inviting her to join the varsity when she was a ninth-grader.
"You had so much confidence in me that there was no way I wanted to disappoint you," she wrote.
A former Mannon football and basketball player recalled the coach's honesty and attention to detail, noting that a strong defensive play or other example of sound fundamentals would draw more praise than being the leading scorer in a basketball game. Rob Arnold, who has gone on to a number of leadership positions in public education, said he never forgot that.
A Radford University product, Mannon worked at Radford High School for 25 years. His classroom duty was the business curriculum.
He was inducted into the Radford High School Hall of Fame in 2011.
In addition to his mother and three siblings, Mannon leaves his wife of 18 years Jamie and daughters Carly and Lindsey and son Tate. Carly is a junior, Lindsey a freshman, and Tate a third-grader. Each is athletic.
Memorials are asked to be made in Mannon's honor to the high school's Foundation for purposes of an annual sportsmanship award for a Radford senior.
The funeral is today. Maberry Funeral Home in Floyd is handling arrangements.