It’s pretty safe to say quarterback Alex Manley left his mark on West Stokes football program. His name is scattered throughout the record books beginning as early as his freshman year. The senior recently signed a letter of intent to play football and baseball at Emory and Henry College in Virginia.
“I just love the game. It feels good to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. “Their football tradition is so strong. I fell in love with the school and it gives me an opportunity to keep playing two sports that I love.”
He credits his coaches at West for their investment in him along with his parents, Chris and Denise, and a support system of grandparents and siblings.
“They’ve helped me a lot. It’s hard to even put into words what they’ve done for me over me the years. I’m really appreciative of it,” he said.
West Stokes coach Jimmy Upchurch believes Emory and Henry is a smart fit for Manley, but said the program will have to develop someone to fill the role he leaves behind.
“He’s a fierce competitor. He wants to win. What makes him different from others is that he’s one of the best practice players I’ve ever coached. A lot of kids don’t get motivated at practice. He took it very seriously because he wanted to get better and he wanted his team to get better.”
Upchurch believes that drive will make Manley an even stronger competitor at the college level.
“That’s definitely going to carry over. He understands football and he knows the game. He’s a perfectionist and he’s going to do nothing but get better.”
Manley’s mother, Denise said it’s been his goal to play at the college level for a long time.
“I’m just happy for him and so proud because he’s worked really hard,” she said.
She knows first-hand the work put in behind the scenes year-round.
“Whether it’s watching film to look at what he’s doing or trying to read the defense to prepare for the game. He’s prepared at practice and at home. It’s really who he is because he knows and loves the game so much,” she said.
“I think athletics teaches you a lot about life. Sometimes there’s success and sometimes there’s failure. You just keep working through the struggles and it makes you a better person and a better teammate. I’ve always encouraged my kids to play sports because I wanted them to see that and I hope they have.”
Manley’s father, Chris, who is also West Stokes athletic director has seen his son mature over the past four years on and off the field.
“I’m really proud of the growth I’ve seen in him. In his last football and baseball games of the season he gave it all he had. I don’t think he wanted it to end for himself or his team. If he can keep that drive he’s going to be successful in the future.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.