Even after 17 years as a basketball coach, Deer Creek's Totsy Manning continues to learn.
“You learn all these things about your team and what fits them and how your team works and how your team ticks,” Manning said.
Everything came together for Manning and the Antlers this season, leading to a 27-2 record and a Class 5A state title.
Now, Manning is The Oklahoman's Big All-City Girls Coach of the Year.
“It's been pretty surreal at times,” Manning said. “Our girls have embraced it, our community's embraced it, the school has embraced it. It's been a great celebration and we're still celebrating today.”
Ashley Gibson wasn't sure what to think when she first encountered Manning, during tryouts as a freshman.
“She just did nothing but scream. ‘Guys, you are going to do it right. You guys are going to run for it,'” Gibson said. “It was very scary how she made you do your best every minute you were out there.”
Now, Gibson has seen the results of Manning demanding excellence.
“It led to great things,” Gibson said. “I honestly didn't think I was going to go to college to play basketball but she definitely pushed me to my limits and made sure that she brought out the best in me.
“It's sad that it's done but I'm blessed to have her.”
Deer Creek's season ended in disappointment last year, short of the state tournament.
“From April of last year, the team really made the commitment and said we don't want this feeling again in the locker room because we felt we were better than how our season ended,” Manning said. “As a team we made a commitment that we were going to do work until we got the work done.”
That work ended with a win over top-ranked and defending state champion Shawnee.
“Me and her, from the beginning, said we were going to win one together,” Gibson said of Manning. “It was a nerve-racking and amazing experience, but it was unreal celebrating that title with her.”
Manning first started thinking about coaching when she was playing high school basketball at Western Heights
“I feel like when I was in high school, I was continually looking at things from a different perspective,” Manning said. “When I'd be sitting on the bench or when I was talking to other players, I was thinking that way.”
She then solidified her career plans while playing for Bob Hoffman at Southern Nazarene.
“I had some great coaches who coached me and made me hungry for the game,” Manning said. “I just love the game of basketball, I love to teach the game of basketball and I love kids. I know from a long time ago that that's probably the avenue that I was going to take.”