One of The Miller School’s most decorated coaches has left the program.
Danny Manuel, who guided the Mavericks’ boys basketball team to the 2018 VISAA Division II state championship, resigned from his post Thursday after four years in charge of the program.
“I am resigning from my position at The Miller School,” Manuel said. “The last four years have provided me with a lifetime of memories. I first want to thank the players and their parents for believing in myself and the way we ran our program.”
A two-time all-state selection at Miller as a player, Manuel returned to his alma mater in 2015 to help guide the Mavericks’ boys basketball program back to glory.
In his four seasons, the Mavericks reached the state tournament every season and made three consecutive trips to the state championship game. He compiled a career record of 82-33.
During the 2017-18 season, Miller School defeated Blue Ridge to win the Virginia Independent Conference tournament title. Two weeks later, Manuel guided the Mavericks to a 62-60 win over the Barons to capture the VISAA Division II state title.
Last winter, Manuel took the Mavericks back to the state title game. The Mavericks won 22 games, but lost to Blue Ridge 61-53 in overtime in the championship game.
Manuel is proud of his team’s accomplishments at Miller.
“Taking over a program that had won eight games the previous season and going to three straight title games and 22 wins in a season was a ton of work,” Manuel said. “We won a state title, beat the No. 1 postgrad team in the country, flew to IMG for a showcase and played teams from New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.”
In addition, Manuel has done a good job of preparing players to make it to the next level. Aundre Hyatt just finished his first season at LSU and Deshaun Wade is making a name for himself at East Carolina.
Like his players, the 31-year-old hopes to make the transition to the next level as a college coach. He has pursued several options and believed that the time is right to make the jump.
“The decision was easy, but the process of letting the team know was very difficult,” Manuel said. “It has been my dream since I was a child to coach at the Division I level. I’ll miss the kids and their youthful spirit the most.”
Blue Ridge basketball coach Cade Lemcke, who has had his share of battles with the Mavericks over the years, has nothing but respect for what Manuel accomplished at Miller.
“Danny is leaving the basketball program better than when he arrived,” Lemcke said. “As a school, you can’t ask for more than that. The toughest thing for Miller will be to try and replace him with someone as passionate and hungry to succeed. That type of passion was commendable and part of the fire was because Danny played at The Miller School. When you are coaching at your alma mater, you have another level of drive and focus because you wore that uniform, you played on that court, you know what your players are going through. Replacing that fire will be a difficult task, but I’m sure they will be fine.”
Lemcke said he’ll have fond memories coaching against Manuel.
“Miller and Blue Ridge had some great battles during Danny’s time there and we will miss the competitive spirit that his team played with,” Lemcke said.
Manuel credited Miller athletic director James Braxton and Miller School Fine Arts department chair Thomas Pallante for allowing him to run his programs.
“Thank you to Rick France and James Braxton for giving me my first job, along with their faith and support,” Manuel said. “I’m forever indebted.”
In addition, Manuel said he won’t forget the Mavericks’ fans.
“Thanks to the student body for their support over the years,” he said. “We could not have won as many games without the environment you created on Tuesday and Thursday nights.”