Mann's the man at 2-0 Dulaney

September 22, 1994|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Dulaney High first-year football coach Jeff Mann said he always wanted to live and work in Baltimore County. If that's the case, he sure took a strange route in getting there.

Growing up in Towson, Mann starred in football and lacrosse at Loyola before moving on to William and Mary, where he played football and majored in physical education.

After earning his degree, he taught and coached at a junior high school in northern Virginia before moving back to Towson, where he served as an assistant coach at Towson High for six years.

In 1979, Mann broke into the college coaching ranks as an assistant at Towson State, and two years later he was special teams and tight ends coach at the University of Maryland. After 10 seasons there, Mann left with the Terps former head coach, Joe Krivak.

From there, he toiled as a sales manager for a collegiate recruiting service and taught physical education at Hickey School, before serving as an advance scout for the San Diego Chargers -- a "dream job" that consisted of him traveling to NFL stadiums all over the country to scout opponents.

"It was a great and I had a lot of fun, but I really wanted to get back into coaching," said Mann. "I told my wife [Karen] that if a good high school opportunity opened up I would try to get back into coaching so I could do what I really enjoy and still have time for my family."

So, when Chuck Klimek decided to quit at Dulaney last winter, Mann applied for the job and got it. In addition to his head coaching duties, he's teaching two ninth-grade science courses and coordinating a pilot program for at-risk students.

And he couldn't be happier.

"My goal is to stay right here at Dulaney the rest of my career," said Mann, who has three children -- Stacy, 12, Molly, 8 and Jay, 4. "I love the area and the school and I know my children will get an excellent education here."

It's tough to argue the success Dulaney has had in the academic arena, but it's equally difficult to defend the Lions' floundering football program.

Mann understands that a winning team can't be built overnight, but he's a firm believer in building character through discipline, and says he is on a mission to bring respect back to Dulaney football.

"When I took over the job, a lot of people I talked to said, 'Where are you coaching?' and I'd say, 'Dulaney,' and they just sort of laughed," said Mann. "You can tell they don't respect them and the kids know that, too.

"The No. 1 thing we want to do when we play is get the respect of our opponent and you don't do that by talking, but by playing football the way it's supposed to be played, all out for four quarters."

Dulaney assistant coach Jimmy Patterson, who served in the same capacity last season when the Lions went 1-9, said he already has seen a positive change in the players' attitude and work ethic, and attributes it to Mann's no-nonsense coaching style.

"Coach Mann may have caught some of the kids off guard with his approach of being real serious about little things like being in the huddle straight. Now the players have seen the benefits," said Patterson, referring to the Lions' 2-0 start with upsets over Towson (30-26) and Dundalk (39-22). "They now realize that doing those little things can add up to something big."

Mann agreed, adding, "In football you have to have 11 guys on the same page every play and you have to teach them the value of discipline. We're trying to teach them what discipline can do for them right now, in relation to football, and more importantly, later in life, because you can't do anything without discipline."

Mann learned that lesson from some of the brightest minds in the game. At William and Mary he had the opportunity of playing under both Marv Levy (Buffalo Bills) and Lou Holtz (Notre Dame). At Maryland, he coached with Bobby Ross (San Diego) and Krivak.

"I've been very fortunate to have been coached by and with some of the best coaches, and one of the most important things I've learned is that you have to be a teacher," he said.

"That's the first thing you have to be willing to do is teach. We really try to teach them the right way to play and teach them to play with great effort. You can execute, but if you're not giving great effort you're not going to produce."

Mann admits that he had some apprehensions about returning to the high school ranks, but he was quickly put at ease by a group of individuals craving to learn and starving for success.

"At Maryland, the players were really committed to being there and they wanted to be good and when I first came to Dulaney I wondered how much the kids at this level would want to really work, but these kids are unbelievable," said Mann. "They really want to be good. They just need some direction and someone to teach them how to play."

Senior Ben Cirka conceded that he wasn't a big fan of Mann at first, but has grown to like him more with each victory.

"He's really a nice guy once you get to know him," said Cirka. "On the field he's a disciplinarian beast, but as long as you do what he says, and don't goof off, you'll get along with him fine."

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