Athletic Director Vance Manakas retires from Moorpark College after 39 years


Vance Manakas, Moorpark College’s Athletic Director, speaks to guests attending the grand reopening of Raider Pavilion at Moorpark College on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Max Clark

Vance Manakas has retired after four years as the Athletic Director at Moorpark College. This is the first semester in 39 years that Manakas will not be apart of the MC staff.

Manakas started working at Moorpark on his 24th birthday, Aug. 3, 1981, as an athletic trainer. This was his first job out of graduate school. He has worked his way up the ladder at Moorpark and in 2016 officially became the Athletic Director. As a result of his work at Moorpark, Manakas was inducted into the California Community College Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in April 2012.

The reason that he stayed at Moorpark College for 39 years was that he fell in love with working there. Manakas loved the people that he worked with and he started to have a family in Ventura County.

“It’s a great place to raise a family. They’re part of the community so for me, instead of trying to climb the ladder trying to go to the pros for athletic training,” said Manakas. “I loved the students that I was serving, I never had to move on and it’s been a great career.”

He wants it to be known that COVID-19 did not take a role in his retirement.

“Rest assured that Covid has nothing to do with me leaving. Believe it or not, I have planned this. Me and my wife have planned this for many years and even two years ago in our program plan we put that this is when I am going to be retiring,” Manakas said. “Covid actually made me think twice about not retiring because I didn’t want to leave our department in a situation where they are trying to hire someone under these circumstances.”

Vance Manakas, Athletic Director, shows his equal focus on all sports at Moorpark College Photo credit: James Schaap
Vance Manakas, Athletic Director, shows his equal focus on all sports at Moorpark College Photo credit: James Schaap

Manakas stated that the next athletic director would come out of the pandemic the way that they envisioned it going forward, and that he would be happy to mentor them any way that he can.

On Jan. 15, Moorpark Athletics announced that Matthew Crater will replace Manakas as AD.

“They are going to bring their vision into our department so when we are back fully we are transitioning into the way this person wants the department to become,” said Manakas.

Equipment Manager Robert Mascarenas worked closely with Manakas and had high praise for him.

“There is not enough that can be said about Vance and what he means to not only the athletics department but to the entire Moorpark College community. Vance embodies what it means to be a great athletic director, leader, and mentor. If this department was an athlete, Vance was the heart that pumped blood through everyone else to propel us to achieve our goals. There will never be another like him.”

Manakas’ favorite part as an athletic director is seeing the success of student-atheletes while doing everything that he could to help. He started a tutoring center specifically for student-athletes which has been a big success. He highlighted that there is no greater feeling than when one of the teams at Moorpark becomes a scholar-athlete team, which means that the team as a whole has one of the best GPA’s in the state.

Professor Frank Barajas at California State University Channel Islands and former Moorpark College student-athlete had this to say about Manakas’ commitment to students.

“Vance is a committed teacher. His decades-long service to students is what makes Moorpark College one of California’s leading community colleges,” stated Barajas. “His leadership legacy will continue to live on in the students and colleagues he has mentored over the years.”

Leanne Colvin, administrative assistant at Moorpark College, also recognized Manakas’ dedication to student success while working with him.

“While Vance and I have been co-workers for almost 35 years, we have only worked together for about 3 years,” said Colvin. “But during that time, Vance has shown that he really cares about the people who attend Moorpark College and who work for Moorpark College. He truly wants everyone to be successful and happy.”

So what is next for Manakas? His wife Sharon, who works as the coordinator at the health center for Moorpark College, is retiring at the same time. They plan on doing things together that they would not be able to if they were still working at Moorpark College, such as seeing fall colors. Fall is football season so it was always very hard for Manakas to get out and travel.

“My wife and I want to give back either to the Moorpark community or maybe even go to another country to give back,” said Manakas. “We have a lot of plans that we are going to accomplish. We are also very fortunate that our two daughters live relatively local and we are now grandparents of two little grandchildren so we are going to be very active in that area as well.”

Though they will be severing their ties as employees at Moorpark College, they plan on helping in the ways that they can and coming back to watch and enjoy extracurricular activities like plays, athletic events, etc.

“I’d really like to say thank you to the Moorpark College family. The administration is so supportive, other instructors in other departments are so supportive,” Manakas said. “I wish all our students the best and not only that, I hope that we provided them all the tools so that they can be successful in whatever they want to be, whether on the courts or in the classroom, and hopefully we made a difference in their lives. Thank you for the opportunity to have an impact on your life.”

While Manakas is very thankful for everyone that he has met and worked with at Moorpark College, the Moorpark family is very thankful to have him. In 39 years, Manakas made a large impact on so many lives. Not only the staff but students as well.