• Michigan

His roots are in Flint but Reggie Manville has been instrumental in making Frankfort’s boys program relevant in Class D

By: Tom Markowski, March 4, 2018, 3:34 pm

Frankfort – Coaching in northern Michigan is a far cry from his days in Flint but Reggie Manville couldn’t be more at peace with his surroundings.

Manville, 71, began his coaching career at Flint Northern as the boys junior varsity coach and varsity assistant (1977-84). He spent 13 seasons as the head coach at Flint Southwestern before retiring, or so he thought, in 1997. That 1996-97 season was Charlie Bell’s last at Southwestern. Bell, one of the best players in the storied history of the Buick City, would go on to help Michigan State win a National Championship before playing in the NBA.

In addition to coaching Bell, Manville coached against players like Mateen Cleaves (Flint Northern), Jeff Grayer (Flint Northwestern), Glen Rice (Flint Northwestern), Jason Richardson (Saginaw Arthur Hill) and Shane batter (Detroit Country Day. The Flint-Saginaw was rich in talent at that time and none of his Southwestern teams were able to get beyond the regionals. He did taste a state championship in his first season as an assistant coach when Flint Northern, with Bill Troesken as head coach, defeated Pontiac Central coached by Ralph Grubb for the Class A title.     

Manville is in his seventh season as the head coach at Frankfort, a town located in Benzie County southwest of Traverse City. Frankfort (18-2) recently claimed a share of the Northwest Conference title with Buckley and Maple City Glen Lake at 14-2. Twice Frankfort defeated Buckley, a Class D finalist last season. Twice Frankfort lost to Glen Lake and twice Buckley defeated Glen Lake creating the three-way tie.

The tournament begins Monday and Frankfort will play Leland (7-13) in the first game of the Class D district hosted by Suttons Bay at 6 p.m. Frankfort defeated Leland twice in conference play, the last time on Feb. 23, 73-60.

Expectations are high for the Panthers. Frankfort was upset by Suttons Bay, 59-57, in a district final and anything less than a district title this season would be considered a disappointment.

Frankfort fans have been anything but disappointed in the program since Manville took over in the fall of 2011. Despite a so-so regular season, Frankfort won a district title that season and the Panthers have kept on winning since. Under Manville, the Panthers have won three conference titles, five district titles, and three regional titles. The Panthers reached the state semifinals (2014) for just the second time in school history. Frankfort last won a district title in 2001 before Manville’s arrival and the Panthers did not win a district game in 2010 or 2011.

After leaving Flint in 1997 Manville was content fishing in the Frankfort area or going to his place in Grayling and trying his luck in the AuSable River.

“I thought I’d fish for the rest of my life,” he said. “The parents (at Frankfort) got to me. I went to a junior high game and, you know, Frankfort is a small town and some of the parents came up to me. They hadn’t won a district title in 10 years but I wasn’t going to pressure anyone. If the position opened up then I’d think about it and it just so happened that it did open up.”

Manville got his feet wet within the program as he was an assistant under Mike Vough for two seasons (’98-’99) and, as a favor to a friend, Manville coached at Big Rapids for one season (2001).

Frankfort’s chances of winning a district title rest on the shoulders of predominantly three players, junior Jaylon Rogers, senior Matt Loney and senior Griffin Kelly. Rogers averages 21 points to lead the team. Loney is at 15 points per game and is yet another Loney to help make this program successful. An older brother, Dan, is Manville’s top assistant and another brother, David, owns the school’s scoring record. Kelly is Frankfort’s top defensive player. A running back in football, Kelly signed to play football at Northern Michigan.

“It was a big cultural change (coaching at Frankfort),” Manville said. “The thing about it, it was kind of a mess. I had to throw off our best player that first year. There was a discipline problem.

“I’ve had three heart attacks and have had nine stents put in (his arteries). I never let it bother me. I love high school basketball. I’d rather watch a high school basketball game than any other sporting event.”

After the season is over Manville will head to Florida for a month and, you guessed it, go fishing.