Barbara McManus has always been a self-proclaimed sports fanatic. But she was never one to be found on the playing field. Rather, she was more likely to serve as a scorekeeper, statistician or manager.
In 1972, with a bachelor of science in math education from LSU, Barbara landed her first job as a math teacher at St. Joseph’s Academy. At the end of the previous school year, SJA’s volleyball coach had retired to spend more time her family. When a group of volleyball players in desperate need of a coach approached the petite newcomer, Barbara declined, saying she had never played the sport. But the athletes persisted, and Barbara finally agreed to a one-season commitment. Twenty-two years later, she retired as SJA’s head volleyball coach with a 569-265 record. At the time, it was the ninth best record in the nation for a high school volleyball coach. She also served as SJA’s athletic director for 13 years.
To tackle the challenge of coaching a sport she never played, Barbara became a tireless student of the game, attending camps and clinics, reading coaching manuals, making phone calls and learning from experienced coaches and players. With a master’s degree in mathematics, she put her analytical mind to work and became a knowledgeable strategist. Her dedication paid dividends.
In her 22 seasons at the helm, Barbara’s Redstickers won 10 district championships (including eight consecutive undefeated district titles) and two regional tournament championships. In state tournament action, her teams reached the semifinals seven times. The 1986 Redstickers were Division I state champions. The 1988 team set a school record for consecutive victories and total victories, going 41-0 for the regular season and winning two state tournament matches to finish 43-1, falling in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Riverdale.
Barbara’s coaching honors are numerous: She is a nine-time Louisiana High School Athletic Association District Coach of the Year; three-time Louisiana High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year; three-time Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association Division I Coach of the Year; two-time LHSCA All-Star Coach; and the 1990 National High School Athletic Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year. She was inducted into the LVCA Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 1996, Barbara was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Nineteen of Barbara’s players achieved All-State or All-Star recognition, and 13 went on to play collegiate volleyball.
Always grateful for the help she received as a young coach, Barbara would devote untold hours to promoting volleyball across the state. For 20 years, her tireless service to the sport led to its unprecedented growth as a Louisiana high school sport. She was instrumental in establishing the Capital City Board of Volleyball Officials and was a long-time member of the LHSAA, serving in numerous leadership capacities. She was a charter member of the Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association, serving as its president in 1988-90. She founded and directed Capital City Volleyball Club to encourage participation in off-season volleyball for players in grades 6-12.
In 1994, she was elected as a life-time associate member of the Capital City Board of Volleyball Officials and became the first woman to receive the Maurice “Casey” Kozminski Award from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for promotion of a sport through work with the media. That same year, The Advocate recognized her for Distinguished Service and Dedication in Promoting High School Athletics in the Baton Rouge Area.
Barbara conducted numerous clinics for middle school coaches, created SJA’s summer volleyball camp for area youngsters, established SJA’s invitational volleyball tournament and helped parents of SJA volleyball players create the River City Volleyball Club, a junior developmental program.
Today, Barbara remains an active part of the SJA community. Always the teacher, she’s on campus several days a week, tutoring math students.