The LACROSSE.COM Headquarters are based in Hillsborough, NC so it is not every day we get to see local lacrosse talent make it to the pros. David Manning, of the Charlotte Hounds, is currently enjoying his rookie season in the MLL and living back in his hometown of Chapel Hill, NC. We recently caught up with Manning to find out how things are going in the pros, his unique southern perspective on the game and much more.
Let’s kick things off with some rapid fire questions.
- Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC
- Dream vacation destination: Barcelona, Spain
- If not lacrosse, what sport would you be playing: Basketball
- Favorite ice cream flavor: Cookies and Cream
- Favorite hype up song: Say Yeah – Wiz Khalifa
- Your pre-game ritual: A lot of stretching/foam rolling to get loose, I take one last look over the scouting report and then play my pregame playlist from my phone to get pumped up and ready to go.
- Best place you’ve played lacrosse: Tournament in Lake Placid, NY
- Dog or cat: Dog!! I currently have a 1 ½ year old German Shepherd mix named Scar (after the Lion King… favorite childhood movie)
- Favorite pizza topping: Italian Sausage
- Your current stick set up: Currently have an all StringKing set-up: Mark 2D head, mid pocket, with Type 3s mesh on their Metal 2 380 shaft.
- Athlete role model: Luke Kuechly
- Favorite cartoon growing up: The Simpsons
You played collegiate lacrosse at Loyola University under Charley Toomey. What was your favorite memory from your college lacrosse days?
My favorite memory from my college career has got to be winning the 2012 National Championship up at Gillette Stadium in Boston AND the epic 8 hour bus ride after with the entire team and coaching staff back to Baltimore. The story of that 2012 Loyola team is pretty remarkable and worth a read. Long story short, we went from being huge underdogs ranked outside the top 20 before the season started and ended up finishing 18-1, tying the best record in NCAA D1 lacrosse.
You are now in your first MLL season playing defense for the Charlotte Hounds. How would you describe your experience so far playing professional lacrosse?
It’s been incredible so far. There is so much talent and turnover in this league that it really elevates your level of play and keeps you on your toes. Having the opportunity to play against college All-Americans and Tewaaraton winner’s week in and week out is a really cool experience and something that you can’t replicate outside of this league.
You come from North Carolina and even with two powerhouse college programs, NC is not a traditional lacrosse hotbed. How has that impacted your development as a player?
I think growing up and playing lacrosse in North Carolina made me a different kind of lacrosse player than if I was to have grown up in Maryland or Upstate New York. Because the lacrosse community was so small back when I was growing up no one really specialized in just lacrosse. Everyone played multiple sports and they brought those skills onto the lacrosse field. High school lacrosse in North Carolina had a lot of hitting! Just to be able to field teams many schools had to recruit football players to be on the team and that translated to a much more physical style of play. The skill wasn’t there, but there sure was a lot of athleticism on the field, which was fun to play against. You wouldn’t see many behind the back passes or crafty stick work going on, but if you found yourself in the middle of the field you better watch where you’re running because somebody was looking to knock you out. Growing up around that style of play made me a lot more physical on the field, which definitely helped me crack the starting line-up at Loyola and eventually play in the MLL.
How did your North Carolina roots impact your recruitment process?
Being from NC certainly didn’t help with recruiting; most teams were still recruiting primarily out of the Northeast in those days. However, it wasn’t like I was going to be the first kid from NC to make it to the D1 level. Guys like Chris Fiefs (Riverside/Maryland), Cory Coffman (Riverside/Loyola MD), and Tony Mendes (East Chapel Hill/Maryland & Salisbury) had already represented NC at that level and proved that there was talent down here. It also didn’t hurt that Loyola MD had taken a liking to kids from NC after Cory Coffman. By the time I was starting to get recruited my Junior year, Loyola already had Mike Sawyer (Charlotte Catholic) on the team and had commitments from his younger brother Matt Sawyer and Kyle Duffy, a fellow teammate of mine at Chapel Hill High. I wasn’t being recruited by and of the perennial powerhouse schools, but I was still garnering a lot of interest from schools outside the top 15. It ultimately came down to Denver, Loyola, and Dartmouth. When it came down to it, Loyola University had everything I wanted in a school, and it turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
Growing up playing lacrosse in NC, what is it like being back in the south playing in the professional ranks?
It’s a dream come true. Ever since Charlotte got a professional team I’ve always wanted the opportunity to play for the Hounds. It’s rewarding seeing all the kids in their Team Carolina gear or other local team jerseys, some of which I played for, waiting for autographs after the games. Playing for your home state’s pro team is a pretty incredible feeling and I’m very thankful for the opportunity that the Hounds gave me.
Photo Credit: MLL & Paul Boskovich
How would you compare the lacrosse scene in NC vs the hotbed area of Maryland?
Just in the last 10-15 years it’s been amazing to see how much the game of lacrosse has grown in North Carolina! There are so many more club teams around these days, as well as camps and clinics for these kids to go to, it’s awesome. That being said, lacrosse is more than a sport up in Maryland. I’m sure many of my teammates from that area will agree with me that the sport of lacrosse is part of the culture in that state. NC has a long way to go to be on the same level as Maryland, but that doesn’t mean the talent level is very far off. We’re seeing more and more kids from NC play at the D1/2/3 and MCLA levels now and our youth and high school club teams are competing for championships at every summer tournament. NC lacrosse is headed in the right direction, thanks in large part to the amazing coaches we have down here, and hey who knows, we may see a kid from NC win the Tewaaraton in the near future.
We hear you are working on making lacrosse your full-time job. What do you have in the works?
That’s the plan for the next few years before I decide to re-apply to medical school. I just came back from Los Angles where I was coaching with the Santa Monica Dragons organization and an assistant coach for Viewpoint High School. I had a great time coaching out West and I’m looking to expand on that coaching experience back here in NC. Aside from a few projects with lacrosse.com, I’ll be helping out with a few Fusion lacrosse youth camps and possibly collaborating with local phenom Tony Mendes setting up positional training/clinics in the triangle area.
What else would you like the lacrosse world to know about David Manning?
Ryan Fournier, a fellow greyhound teammate and an Ontario native, talked me into attending the NLL combine this fall up in Toronto. Each fall at Loyola we would take a break from field lacrosse and for a few days a week we would play in the LBLL (Loyola Box Lacrosse League). As a freshman you are drafted to one of the four teams and compete for a championship. It was a nice change-up from practicing on the field most days, but other than playing in the LBLL and a pick-up box game on Sunday nights in the LA area I haven’t had much experience playing indoor. I don’t have high expectations going in, the indoor games is a completely different animal than field, but its something fun and new to train for and I’m looking forward to the experience.
It is clear to see the growth of the game is expanding out of the northeast when guys like David Manning and other stars like Scott Ratliff are representing non-traditional hot beds such as North Carolina and Georgia in the pro ranks. Manning has a clear passion for lacrosse and high hopes to further grow the game back down south. As Manning mentioned, we will be partnering with David to develop position specific videos and content as he builds out his training program. So stay tuned for more from David Manning and make sure to cheer him and the Hounds on this summer!