All-Area Girls' Basketball Coach of Year: STM's Chris Mennig
Why he’s coach of the year: Directed St. Thomas More to the Class 2A state championship in a season where the Sabers were top-ranked in every state poll. His 33-2 team also set the school record for wins in a season, which was one of 44 marks broken or tied. Among the others, a 23-game wining streak to end the season, team scoring average of 67.7 points per game, 1,354 rebounds by the team and 942 made field goals by the team. For the season, no 2A opponent came within 20 points of the Sabers.
From Chris Mennig: “This was probably the most emotional roller coaster ride I have been on since beginning at St. Thomas More nine years ago. It’s funny that when the spotlight gets bigger, human instincts kick in and everyone wants to get under it. Teaching an entire program how to ‘walk in their own greatness’ was a more daunting task than most would expect. We knew after last season that the bull’s-eye was on our back from Day 1, and teaching them the line between confidence and cocky was imperative. For myself, to push them almost to the point of breaking their spirit in mid-December and then watch them build each other up to what the end product looked like in February was exhausting at times. It was truly worth it through getting to watch the pure joy on their faces as they marched through the playoffs.”
A few of my favorites: Last text, to my wife Erika ... “Hawaii Five-0” ... Ruth’s Chris Steak House ... Favorite venues to coach are Staples Center in L.A. and Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis ... driving a Volvo, thanks to Sullivan-Parkhill ... how I spend time before a game, normally I’m working right up until I walk in the locker room ... after a game, I like to eat a popsicle ... pet peeve is opposing fans’ misperceptions of what a press is vs. pressure in a basketball game ... next goal is try to instill great values onto our unborn child that joins us this fall.
Three living people I’d like to have dinner with: Billy Joel, Rick Pitino and Jimmy Fallon.
About Coach Mennig: “He is a very basketball-savvy man. He is a man of great understanding of the game of basketball, making it very doable to trust him. You never know what crazy plan he’ll pull out of his bag of tricks. Of the three years I had him as a coach, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. He taught me more than just the game, but helped prepare me for greater challenges. He motivated me, the moment he said the words, ‘I usually don’t believe in small point guards ... I’m more of a post coach.’ From then on, I took on the challenge to prove him wrong. Not only that, but during team meetings we would speak of team goals, and he never let us set our goals too shallow or too out of reach. He was very honest about our abilities, never letting us underestimate ourselves. It was a wonderful journey to be a part of and he helped to make it one we will never forget.” — senior point guard Randa Harshbarger