Steve Manitta will head the lacrosse team being formed at Sussex County Community College. (Photo provided).
By Laurie Gordon NEWTON - Sussex County Community College (SCCC) now has a Men's Lacrosse Team. Twenty seasoned players comprise the team, which will play in the Junior College Athletic League under the tutelage of Coach Steve Manitta. “Athletic programs are a hallmark of the college experience that students seek,” said the college's president, Jon Connolly. “Sussex County Community College knows that students who participate in athletics are much more likely to stay on towards graduation than students who do not. Students who stay at the college and graduate get the full benefit of an associate’s degree for the workforce or to transfer to a four-year institution. Lacrosse is one of the most rapidly growing high school sports in Sussex County.” Manitta started his coaching career at Roxbury High School, in 1993, with a new program that he matured into a strong team. He then built the Chatham High School Team into a state powerhouse for nine years. T Chatham was ranked in the top 20 in lacrosse in New Jersey. “I had always wanted to dip my foot in the college pool,” Manitta said. “It's difficult to take that shot, but my wife, Kim, was very supportive of it." In 2010 Manitta moved on to Mercy College, in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where he started a lacrosse program. He was named East Coast Conference 2011 Coach of the Year. In 2013, he took over as head coach at Manhattan College, a Division I lacrosse program, and led them to a second place finish in the MAAC in 2014. Though he enjoyed great success at Manhattan College, the commute was long, and considering family, he decided to take a position closer to home. In 2015-2017, Manitta assisted at Drew University in Madison, and was named 2017 Landmark Conference Assistant Coach of the Year. “That next year, I decided I needed some time off and enjoyed watching my sons (Teddy and Colin) play in Chatham,” Manitta said. “It was great but I found myself missing the coaching.” When SCCC asked him to be lacrosse coach, Manitta was delighted to accept. “We felt that introducing the exciting sport of lacrosse would add vitality to the college, new students who would otherwise go to a more expensive college, and leadership opportunities for students,” Dr. Connolly said. “Once we understood the benefits to students and the college, it simply became a matter of finding the right coach to lead the program. We have found the best man for the job, Steve Manitta.” “I've started programs before and it's always a rewarding challenge,” Manitta said. “This group of guys is great. The ones who have played before are helping the ones who haven't and everyone is working really, really hard.” "Steve Manitta is just what we need to start our program here at Sussex, said John Kuntz, SCCC Athletic Director. “...I am confident that Steve will build Sussex into a two year college lacrosse program to be reckoned with in a very short time, not only around the state, but at the national level as well." Their first game is this week against Union County College. “The captains were selected by the team, and I couldn't be happier with the choices," Manitta said. The captains are: Chris Johnson, Al Mobilio, Chris Santamaria, and Bailey Ressa The first home game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, against Delaware Technical Community College. The team is anticipating a big turn out as folks rally 'round Sussex County's first collegiate lacrosse team. For a full schedule, visit: https://www.sussexskylanders.com/sports/mlax/2018-19/schedule