Q&A with Matt Manzke, Oak Forest basketball coach
July 5, 2012 1:00PM
Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke calls for a timeout. | John Smierciak~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 9, 2012 6:06AM
Matt Manzke just finished his fourth year on the sidelines as the varsity coach of the boys basketball team at Oak Forest High School. He started teaching during the 2001-2002 school year.
What’s your basketball background?
I went to Marist High School (graduated in 1996), and I played basketball for one year at Illinois Wesleyan University. We won the Division III National Championship that season (1997). I transferred and played one year at Benedictine University, and then transferred again and finished up at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
How did you originally get into coaching?
I come from a family that loves basketball. My Dad coached basketball when I was younger, and he still comes to all the Oak Forest games. I also had three great high school basketball coaches, Ken Styler (current athletic director at Richards), Bryan Tucker (current coach at Barrington) and Don Richardson (still at Marist). I think they led me into coaching because I had a great experience playing for them.
Have you seen any changes in high school sports since you started coaching?
I don’t think much has changed. I think overall, athletes have become more physical than they were a decade ago, and consequently today’s players need to spend more time in the weight room than they did before. In general though, when it comes down to it, high school sports is still about young men and women learning life lessons on the athletic fields and courts.
If you had free rein, would you change basketball in the IHSA? High school sports in general?
I really think high school basketball is as good as it gets, but I would try to watch over some of the transferring and/or recruiting that happens more closely to make sure it is all legitimate. I think there is a lot to be said for a group of players that grow up together, work hard to get better and compete as a group.
Do you have a favorite memory as a coach?
There are so many great memories I’ve had over the years, it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve been head coach for four years, and we’ve never lost on Senior Night. Each one of those games carries special memories because they remind me of those seniors who dedicated so much hard work and effort toward our program. Senior leadership is something that can’t be underestimated!
Any favorite rivalry you look forward to?
Any time we play the other schools in our district — Bremen, Tinley Park, and Hillcrest — it brings the competition level up a notch. There is a lot of pride that comes from playing in those games.
What are you most proud of as a coach?
I’m most proud of the relationships we’ve built with our players over the years. We often have former players come back and watch games or stop by practice. We’ve had several former players coach in our program. It means a great deal to me that these guys had a good experience as an Oak Forest basketball player, and that they want to share that experience with our current players. I think we’ve created a family atmosphere in our basketball program.
As told to Tim O’Brien