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Freedom Report: A profile of Beau Manning
Nick Dobreff / Florence Freedom
FLORENCE, KY - Beau Manning is seeing baseball from a whole new perspective these days.
As a first year player in the Frontier League, the Freedom infielder is adjusting to the rigors and challenges of pro baseball.
But he's also getting the chance to see the game from the managerial side as well.
After graduating from Indiana University Southeast in 2008, he was offered an assistant coaching position by his former teammate and current manager Ben Reel.
"It's great seeing it from the other side, especially since it's somewhere I played, somewhere that's special to me", says Manning who played and starred for 4 years at IUS. "I just love seeing it from the other side and helping college kids reach their potential."
Manning and Reel were teammates on the Grenadiers for a year when Manning was a sophomore and Reel was a senior. As two of the youngest coaches in the county, they're cutting their teeth at a level usually reserved for older, more experienced managers.
"It's been a learning experience for both of us. I've definitely enjoyed learning from him and watching how he's managed the team for the last two years."
Experiencing life as a manager has given Manning a broader perspective on baseball. And while he admits coaching may become a more serious endeavor in the coming years, he's still focused on realizing his dreams as a player.
"Right now, there are so many things I want to accomplish as a player. But as far as the future goes, it's definitely a possibility. I love helping kids. I love the reward of watching kids succeed and being able to help them achieve their potential."
Manning, who grew up in nearby Louisville, is ecstatic about getting the chance to play close to home, especially after playing last season in Texas with the Big Bend Cowboys of the Continental League.
"Florence is a home away from home for me because it's only an hour away from Louisville. It's always a special experience when you can play close to home. Both of my parents are retired so they are able to come watch me play now as opposed to last year when I was 22 hours away."
And his experiences as a manager are helping him adjust to life in pro ball.
"The Frontier League is definitely a step up from the Continental League. The pitching and overall talent is better in this league. You see a lot more off-speed pitches and pitchers attack you differently. I'm still working to make that adjustment. But there's always adjustments to be made in baseball if you want to stick around."
Manning has worked hard to make himself into a vital player on the Freedom. He's become Manager Toby Rumfield's go to utility player, a guy who can play multiple positions, bat anywhere in the lineup, steal a base, or get a timely hit.
And his attitude is rubbing off on his teammates.
"I'm fiery. I like to get people fired up and that's the type of attitude I bring to the field. Give everything you have every single day."
But when he offers an assessment of the Freedom's season, he does so with a coach's savvy.
"We have the team we need to be successful right now. We're definitely starting to come together and winning some ballgames. We just need to take it one game at a time and start winning series after series. We're right in the hunt for a playoff spot. I think we're turning it around at the right time and I'm excited to see what we're capable of doing with the roster we have now."