There was a time when America was a far off place for Fred Mann.
He was a young man in South Africa and his older brother, Roy, was here as an exchange student. The way Roy described the United States pretty much assured that the younger Mann would eventually find his way here as well.
Mann came here in 1991 and eventually found a home at Mountain Pointe, after some time helping out with the BYU program, where he was the first boys volleyball coach ever hired in Arizona.
It’s been a special, ultra-successful and gratifying run, but it is coming to an end. Mann recently told his players on the Pride’s boys and girls volleyball programs that he was leaving the school after this season.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “When I arrived here straight out of South Africa I was just looking for an opportunity. I have been able to provide for the family and made unbelievable relationships with the kids you meet. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye, but I have coached other people’s kids for 20 years.”
Mann is taking over the girls program at Perry where his daughter, Morgan, is a freshman in the fall and his son, Levi, is a senior this year.
“The idea of driving to work every morning and having those 10 minutes with her every day is hard to pass up,” Mann said. “Mountain Pointe will always be that special place where I got started, but I am looking forward to the challenge of taking over a new program.”
It would be fitting if the Pride somehow managed to win a state title in his final season to match the eight total (seven boys, one girls) championships he has won since boys volleyball began in 1995. The Pride has started 4-4 and has shown snippets being a very good team but haven’t put it all together.
“I feel like we are really close,” Mann said. “We need someone to be more vocal and take control of the team.”
If someone can bring it together it is Mann, who is considered one of the forefathers of the sport in Arizona, but no matter how Mountain Pointe does this season Mann will be remembered as one of the top faculty members and coaches who was there when the school opened.
In other words, Mann is part of the foundation that built the school from the ground up in 1991.
“He grew into the role very quickly,” said former Mountain Pointe principal Harold Slemmer, who is now the executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). “He is such a pleasant person and the kids immediately started to work hard for him, and the state championships starting rolling in.
“Back then we were able to staff Mountain Pointe with the best people from around the country and Fred was there at the very beginning to get it started.”
Mann, who is married to Angie, was emotional and ever so grateful to the family of Mountain Pointe after Tuesday’s loss to Desert Vista as he talked about his journey from South Africa to Ahwatukee.
“I had no idea when I applied for this job the satisfaction it would bring,” Mann said. “I have such gratification and appreciation of everyone at Mountain Pointe. All of the principals and athletic directors have been so very supportive and I love the guys I work with. It is a difficult decision to leave such a great school.”
It is clear that Mann’s mark on the school goes far beyond what happened in the gym even though, as he pointed out as he was taking down the net on Tuesday, it is where he spent countless hours.
“Fred took volleyball and made it a special sport at Mountain Pointe,” Pride athletic director Ian Moses said. “People are drawn to him and no one can teach or coach it like him, but it doesn’t end there. He is a great counselor and the whole school has felt the impact of what Fred Mann brings to school every day.”
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