Ernie Manning wasn’t a star athlete while growing up in Tipton, but he certainly learned the intangibles to become a great high school football coach.
Manning learned what respect meant while playing for then-Tipton coach Don Royal, the brother of former Oklahoma quarterback and legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal.
He drew inspiration from his older brother Buck after he lost his leg in a bicycle-car accident but still played baseball on a prosthetic leg.
And Manning also learned the importance of community.
Those were all things he took with him in his coaching career, which resulted in a highly successful tenure at Lawton MacArthur as the head coach and an induction into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame last weekend.
Manning, who is now an assistant coach under his son Brett for the Highlanders, spoke with The Oklahoman about growing up in Tipton, his career and more.
I was scared to death of (Royal). He was a tough, rugged coach. Looking back, he was just a no-nonsense coach. Everybody just had a whole lot of respect for him and that went a long way. We didn’t dare not do what he asked us to do; that wasn’t even an option. Probably more than anything it’s just that attitude right there that I probably admired out of him.
(Buck) was a really good athlete, you just couldn’t foresee what would happen. He was just a stud on every Little League team that we ever played on. We went to Chandler Baseball Camp a couple times and he set the home run record there.
It was inspirational that he would continue trying and he had no excuse whatsoever. He never used that as an excuse. He did it for a couple years and then it wasn’t feasible after that.
I didn’t know anything else to do, to tell you the truth. There was no interest in anything else, so it was just natural. It was just natural for me to go in that direction (to coach).
I loved every minute of it (in Pampa, Texas). There were very few games that you didn’t have to play to win. The community of Pampa was kind of like Tipton. It was important to them to have a great football team and all sports. I really liked the competition there and I liked the challenge there that we faced.
Twelve years under Dennis Cavalier, I learned all aspects of what a program faces and how it should be run. That’s what I took. I don’t know if it was more from Texas or more from Dennis Cavalier.
Continue reading this story on the...