Dennis McManus ’73, Head Baseball Coach
“Baseball has always been my passion,” says head baseball coach Dennis McManus ’73. Indeed, his love of baseball goes back to childhood, when he’d play catch in the backyard with his dad and daydream of playing in the major leagues.
A knee injury prevented him from playing varsity baseball as a student at Plymouth State, but it didn’t stop him from thoroughly enjoying his undergraduate years. He continued playing baseball through intramurals and summer leagues, and at the same time cultivated a new passion, for physical education. He also formed a number of enduring friendships with classmates and faculty alike. “My undergraduate years at Plymouth State were the best four years of my life,” says McManus. “Not just academically, but also socially. I formed a lot of great relationships.”
One of those great relationships was with Professor of Physical Education Doug Wiseman ’61, who served as athletics director throughout the 70s. “He wasn’t my advisor, but he was the person I’d go to for advice,” says McManus. When McManus was unsure about what he wanted to do after graduation, Wiseman suggested he go on to graduate school for athletic training. “The athletic training profession was in its infancy back then, and I wasn’t even thinking about graduate school until he encouraged me to apply,” says McManus, who earned his MA in athletic training from Indiana University. “I owe a lot to him.”
After graduate school, McManus accepted a position as an athletic trainer at Northeastern University, where he stayed for five years. But when he learned of an opening for a physical education teacher and head athletic trainer at Plymouth State, it was an opportunity he felt he couldn’t pass up. “There weren’t too many jobs I would have left Boston for,” he says, “but I jumped at the chance to come back.”
That was 35 years ago. Since returning to Plymouth State, McManus, who was named head baseball coach in 1985, has developed yet another passion, for service. On campus, he has coached and mentored hundreds of student-athletes, assisted at Commencement, served on dozens of search committees, helped recruit new students into athletic training, and encouraged students to chase their dreams both on and off the baseball field. In the community, he has provided free baseball clinics, raises awareness about prostate cancer and serves on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Awareness Coalition, has been active on both the NCAA and Eastern College Athletic Conference committees, and has served as president of the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association.
Throughout his career at Plymouth State, McManus has seen the University evolve to truly exemplify its motto, Ut prosim (That I may serve). He has also contributed to that evolution by teaching his students how to be good community members and about the importance of serving others. For example, he and his team have coordinated a food drive to assist the University Community Service Center during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week each fall for the past 15 years. “I try to instill in the players the importance of doing something not for the praise or recognition, but because it’s the right thing to do,” he says.
Still, McManus notes, it is nice to be recognized by the University for his efforts, and the fact that he has been honored with the Patricia Storer PAT Staff Award is especially significant to him. “Pat was dean of women students when I was a student here,” he recalls. “I got to know her very well when I started working here. She was such a great person; it’s neat to get an award in her name. It’s very meaningful to me.”
– Barbra Alan and Elizabeth Cheney ’89, ’99G