"My School" Talking University Of Massachusetts with Will Manny of the Boston Cannons.

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When you were a Tewaaraton trophy finalist, leader of a team that started a season 15-0 and preseason fan pick for player of the year you can say you had success in college. Laxdirt sat down with Boston Cannons and former Minutemen Attackmen Will Manny to talk about his overall experience at UMass and why he thinks any recruit considering UMass is making the right choice.

Will Manny (UMass)- Attack, Boston Cannons.

So Will what made you pick UMass?

I wasn’t really recruited by any of what you would call the big time schools.  This ended up not mattering at all. I felt a great connection with Coach Cannella  and he was interested in me right away. I wanted to go to a school that offered me all the things I was looking for, not sure I would have found that had I gone anywhere else. I was going to get to play right away and they had just graduated Jimmy Connelly and Tim Balise, so I knew I would get the chance to play right away, that was important to me. It really just worked out plus you earn what you put in at UMass and it’s a real blue collar mentality about everything.  I love that about Coach Cannella, you have to earn it.

You played on one of the best UMass teams in history who is one teammate from college you wish was on your team now?

I had a good talk with Cannons GM Kevin Barney and Head Coach John Tucker in the offseason and they were able to add a few UMass guys and I am really excited about it so I am fortunate to already have the chance to play with many of them but I would go with Jake Smith, he is one of the toughest, meanest most fundamental defensemen I’ve ever played and he is now in the MLL. Going against him you know you’re going to be on the ground on a regular basis. I would want him on my defensive end, if I’m on attack watching out defense I know I’ll have the ball soon if he is back there.

What was your favorite tradition on campus lacrosse related or otherwise?

If we played a game on a Saturday after practice on a Friday we would meet in our film room as a full team. We had FNR, its Film Night Reels it could be from 2-10 minutes long of highlights from past, present and all over and it really gets the guys going and shows them what they are playing for. It teaches guys about Garber’s Gorillas. A lot of guys don’t understand that and it means everything to the guys who live it, I might just write a book about it one day. Also after that all the seniors also would go to dinner and just get to spend the time together and not a lot of schools get to do that, it’s a special time that as seniors you get to enjoy with your class.

What do you miss most?

I’ve always loved being a part of a team. Just seeing the guys 2-3 hours a day, and not having anything to worry about or anything to stress you out. You just get to enjoy it and relieve some stress and have fun with friends. It has been really hard to watch the guys prepping for this season and not being a part of it. I still talk to all the players and coaches constantly and just tell them how much it all means to me and how much I enjoyed my time and how it has made me the player and person I am today. I constantly thank Coach Cannella every time I talk to him, before I hang up the phone my last words are always “thank you”.

Who is your current player to watch there and why? 

There are two on my mind right now. Zach Oliveri is the first one that always comes to my mind. The kid is a work horse and has Doc Schneider to teach him every day. He came back last year and was in way better shape and his ability to stop the ball might be as good as anyone in the country. His teammates just love him and he is a first class guy. I talk to him every day and he is the first to give praise to others. On the other end I have to go with Nick Mariano, I didn’t know him because he is a freshman and he threw a skip pass in the alumni game and I went over to Kyle Smith and had to ask about him and he said “Yeah this kid reminds me of us and what he can do” I know he is a freshman but what a start. Now he is the guy they are going to be eyeing on and he is going to have to adapt and play lose and realize what’s going on. He will be a great player.  His game winner against Ohio State was a special moment in that game.

What’s your best on field memory? 

It’s gotta be winning the CAA championship my junior year, coming off the 15-0 season and the accolades that we got and everything, earning home field advantage, Garber was packed and it was an amazing atmosphere. It was incredible.  Beating Drexel in that game 18-12 was just the prefect ending to our regular season.

How about your worst memory?

I try not to regret anything but my senior year against army in the first quarter I don’t even know how it happened but I went for a ground ball and my thumb ended up snapping in half. I had to watch the film and see how it happened, I reached for the ball and took one, I never felt anything like that. I went to the trainer and it was so swollen and crazy. I wrapped it up and played the rest of the game but had an x-ray the next day and ended up with 2 pins in it and missed 5 weeks. It was hard to miss that kind of time as a senior, my last year in the program.

What would your recruiting speech be to a prospect considering UMass?

Talking with friends and family that have gone to different schools it’s like no other. If you want to earn what you get and get the chance to be the underdog and let the fur fly it’s the perfect place. Lots of teams don’t want to play UMass because of their blue collar mentality and how they play. It’s the place to be if you want to be the best you can be. It changed my life.

One thing a player has to do on a visit to UMass? 

Kids come mostly in the offseason and if you come during basketball season you gotta go to a game. Also going to Antonio’s Pizza after a practice or a game, on a Thursday or Friday night there will be 100 people there waiting just to get a slice of pizza. The campus has grown bigger than the city so it’s an amazing place to be.

Chris Mattes poised this question for you. What one thing you’d change about the program? 

Allow them to get new jerseys and uniforms. I’m not saying give them 4-5 different jerseys but it has become a big deal with recruiting and how players look at your school, Coach Cannella is a traditionalist but I’d like to see something a little bit different for once. I wouldn’t change anything besides that.

One question for the next guy?-

What was the most difficult place for you to play at?