After open practices were complete, I had a chance to chat with Loyola (M.D.) defender David Manning. Manning, native of Chapel Hill, NC, will be playing his hometown team for a chance to win his second national championship as a player. He is undecided whether he will accept his offer to play for the Long Island Lizards professionally or continue to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
Lawrence Davis: What does it mean to be back at championship weekend for the second time
David Manning: It means a lot more. Freshman year, I just kind of sat on the bench and watched it from the sidelines. After that year, I just wanted to be on that stage [again] and play. Ending on a national championship my fifth year, it would mean the world.
LD: What have you learned in the past five years that would help you this weekend?
DM: I think that the most disciplined team and most focused team will be the most successful team. All of the little things, we are on top of it as a team together. I think the team that breaks apart and does not notice the small details, they will not be a close team on gameday.
LD: What does defense mean to you?
DM: Communication, toughness, you know, they balance your 6-v-6. Those six guys come together to battle the other six guys, it is just a war out there.
LD: Being from Chapel Hill, how will it be facing UNC to get to your dream?
DM: That’s a dream come true! I have always wanted to play UNC in the regular season, but it just never happened. Playing them in the semifinals is even better!
LD: Will you be nervous?
DM: I think it will be more excitement. At this point, you do not really get nervous. You just want to get to gameday. This is the worst time before the game, I just want to play.
LD: Has there been any special request to see you play in the tournament?
DM: No, not really. I was really hoping that Luke Kuechly would hit me up, but he has not.
LD: What are you looking forward to the most this weekend outside of the game?
DM: I think it would be making memories with my team. We hope to go out on top this year. It would be nothing better than that.
Manning switched his number from #19 to #59 this season to honor his favorite football player, Luke Kuechly.