The mix on the court will last longer than the dye in his hair.
Long after the blond dye has rinsed away, Salado boys basketball coach Kenny Mann will continue to reap the rewards of season of coalescence.
“I think it was just a good mix, to be honest with you, they gelled with me and I gelled with them — I guess it was the perfect storm you might say,” Mann said. “It all just worked out really well.”
The gelling even involved some supportive hair coloring when every member of the Salado basketball team — including Mann and assistant coach Scott Ringo — dyed their hair blond in a sign of team unity before the playoffs.
“I don’t know if it was a good idea or not (laughs), but it was a lot of fun,” Mann said.
Mann will be presented with the Don Coleman Outstanding Coach Award for Class 2A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches at the yearly coaches clinic May 16-18 in San Antonio. He was notified by e-mail of the award about two weeks ago.
“It’s a great honor, I felt really proud and it definitely made me reflect on my team (this past season) right off the bat,” said Mann, who was also named the Daily Herald’s All-Area Coach of the Year. “I’m not sure this was the best I’ve ever coached, but I’ve coached some really good years and if you don’t have players, you’re not going to get considered for an award like this.
“I appreciated my players more after getting that award.”
Early in the year, Mann realized how talented a squad he had when it seemed like every game had a different leading scorer. So, given his cache of weapons, Mann began calling the Eagles an “arsenal” and the nickname took off.
And this arsenal wasn’t short on firepower, as Salado (28-9) put together a season for the ages, tying a school record for wins (28), finishing tied for the District 22-2A championship with Jarrell and advancing to the Region III-2A semifinal, where the Eagles fell to back-to-back state champion White Oak in Nacogdoches.
It was Salado’s first regional tournament appearance since 2005, when the Eagles reached the 2A state semifinals.
“It was a good run this year, I think the guys really started peaking at the right time, and I just reflect back on the Marlin game when we were behind the whole time and made a few adjustments at halftime and our guys just came out and played their tails off,” Mann said. “They didn’t want to lose and just gave everything they had.”
Even their natural brown pigments in their hair — at least for the playoff run.