“Manzo’s boots,” are awarded to the Varsity Boy's Lacrosse player that is the team’s MVP after each game.
There’s quite a story behind the boots, which belonged to longtime Mt. Lebanon youth lacrosse coach Mike Manzo.
Manzo was a partner in the Downtown law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and legal counsel to the WPIAL. He passed away in his sleep May 30, 2011 at age 62.
According to Boys Varsity Head Coach, Mike Ermer, Manzo would leave work around 5:30 or 6 p.m. each day, stop home to see his wife and children, then head to the muddy lacrosse fields where he would coach the youth teams while wearing an old pair of duck boots.
Then, he would head home for dinner before going back to work at the office.
He was a man known for dedication to his family, his work and lacrosse. In 2003 he was named a Man of the Year by US Lacrosse.
While at a lacrosse coaching convention in Baltimore in 2014, the Mt. Lebanon coaches were learning about motivational tactics, using items like a sledgehammer or hard hat to instill the ideals of hard work to players.
That same day, they encountered longtime Cornell University coach Richie Moran, one of the most successful college lacrosse coaches in history. When they shared that they were from Mt. Lebanon, he immediately asked about Manzo.
He remembered Manzo from a game he coached against Princeton, where Manzo was a midfielder in the late 1960s.
Triggered by Moran’s recollection, Ermer and the other coaches thought Manzo’s story would be perfect motivation for the Blue Devils players. Assistant coach Chris Hooton reached out to his family, and Manzo’s widow, Kathy, found his old duck boots and offered them to the team.
Ever since, Mt. Lebanon players have been striving to replicate Manzo’s work ethic, dedication and passion each game.
“It means a lot to the program and the boys,” Ermer said.