Linked Deer Creek Sits Down with Basketball Duo, Sydney and Coach Totsy Manning for a Q&A

There’s an old saying that states, “blood and business don’t mix,” reminding people that involving family with personal business is a recipe for disaster—and it makes for an awkward Thanksgiving thereafter.

In the business of basketball, though, mixing in family seems to work quite well—especially for Sydney and Totsy Manning. The past four years, the Lady Antlers have secured three state tournament titles for Deer Creek. After losing a large chunk of seniors last year, the Lady Antler’s first showing in the competitive 6A playing field exceeded expectations. Much of Deer Creek’s success was due to Sydney’s leadership on the floor (despite the fact that she was a sophomore) and Coach Manning’s guidance on the sidelines. The Lady Antlers qualified for the state playoffs this year, and though they lost in the quarterfinals, they have big plans for the future. We sat down with the mother/daughter duo—just in time for Mother’s Day—and discussed Deer Creek’s past season, the Mannings’ future plans and that oh-so obvious question, What’s it like to play for your mom?

LDC: Tell us a little about the expectations and the outcome of the 2015-2016 season. 

Coach Manning: We set high expectations for our program each season. Deer Creek girls basketball has a great tradition and always strives for excellence. Our approach to this season was no different than any season in the past—work hard, [have a] positive attitude, [give] continuous effort and be a great teammate. Of course we fell two wins short of playing on championship Saturday, but we are proud of the growth and accomplishments we achieved along the way. [It was our] first season in 6A and we were Regional Champions, Area Consultation and [made] a state tournament appearance.

LDC: Can you talk about how you’ve grown and developed as a basketball player over the last couple of years?

Sydney Manning: The past two years I have worked very hard to improve my 3-point shooting game. I wanted to be a reliable shooter from beyond the arc, but you can’t only be a shooter. This season, I wanted to get to the basket more and finish, to expand my game. Although I have gotten better in those areas, my most noticeable improvement has been rebounding.

LDC: Tell me a little about the last game against Broken Arrow? How do you plan on building off of that for next year?

SM: Broken Arrow is a very good team; we knew we were going to have to play extremely well to beat them. Our shots weren’t falling early and theirs were. We had a great season and proved a lot of people wrong by making it to state. Making it that far will help us next year. We will have a lot more experience out on the court, considering we are only graduating two seniors.

LDC: What role did Sydney play in Deer Creek’s success?

CM: Sydney’s role on our team changed from her freshman year. We really expected her to be an impact player from the beginning of the season on both ends of the court. We needed her to be consistent from the 3-point line but also attack the basket more this season. Once she established her game early in the year, many opponents focused their defense in limiting her touches on the ball. This gave the rest of our team the ability to get quality looks on the offensive end. Sydney plays with a lot of poise on the court and thinks of the game at a high level. At three years old she would stand behind the bench and dribble during our high school games and before long she was drawing up plays on the marker board. She possesses a love for the game of basketball, which carriers into her work ethic and her play.

LDC: Describe playing for your mom in a few words? Why did you choose those words? 

SM: If I had to describe playing for my mom in [a few] words they would be—she’s my best friend. It’s not hard having your mom be your coach when we have such a close relationship. Sometimes she yells at me but she always says after “ I wouldn’t yell at you if I didn’t care.” Some people ask how we can be with each other all day, and it’s because we are best friends; we are pretty much inseparable, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

LDC: Is there a difference in the coach/player and mother/daughter dynamic between the two of you? If so what is the difference?

CM: Sydney and I really try to leave our coach/player relationship at the gym and focus on mother/daughter away from the gym. I believe this is important if you want both relationships to grow. The dynamics between us are relatively the same whether we are in the gym or at home. Any coach who has had the opportunity to coach their own child knows how special this time is and how quickly it will go by.

LDC: What are your goals for next year’s season?

CM: Just like most every team in high school basketball we want to win state championships. This spring we will start taking the steps in our journey to give our team the opportunity to achieve our team goals for next season. Deer Creek girls basketball understands the commitment behind success.

LDC: What’s something you admire about your mom?

SM: The thing I admire most about my mom is her selflessness. She always puts others first. My brother and I always come first to her no matter what. She sacrifices everything she has to make sure we have every opportunity, whether it’s opening the gym on her day off or listening to me complain while she takes me to the ACT. I love [her] more than she knows and will never forget these four years of my life. Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom ever!

LDC: In your opinion, what would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift?

CM: A nice leisurely day at home with the family along with a good book to read. It would be a great day if the weather was nice and I could get some down time in my hammock.