Longtime Supper Optimist Coach readies for another season in local senior softball

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WILMINGTON – Seventy-two-year-old Wilmington resident Bill Manley feels like a kid in a candy store each time he’s able to get back on the field as an accomplished senior softball player.

The retired, part-time life insurance agent was honored in 2016 by the Wilmington Senior Softball Association (WSSA) and enshrined as a member of the league’s Hall of Fame. The former junior college ball player has a long history in the game from first getting involved in high arc softball some 44 years ago.

Bill Manley has been playing high arc softball for over 40 years. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Senior Softball Association.
Bill Manley has been playing high arc softball for over 40 years. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Senior Softball Association)

Long before his transition to the softball circuit, Manly made his bones as a general contractor, later becoming a building inspector for New Hanover County and Superintendent of Inspections for the Town of Wrightsville Beach.

After moving to the Port City from Newport News, Virginia in 1969, the West Virginia native became involved locally as a coach at Supper Optimist. It’s there he continued his passion for teaching young kids the game. That included his son, who eventually went on to play at Laney High School and win the 2010 4A State Championship.

The avid softball player was also once a scratch bowler and state champion. Manly has been a part of successful legacy within the popular senior softball league in Wilmington, travelling to many national events with the associations travel teams.

A grandfather to six grandchildren, whom he said he does not get to see nearly enough, Manly and his wife love to support athletics on the local campus by attending UNC-Wilmington basketball and baseball games. In addition to his favorite thing to do, other than softball, he enjoys getting up to Emory Henry College in Virginia every so often to watch two of his grandsons play football.

When he’s not on the field or with his wife of 28 years, you might be able to catch Manley tasting his favorite food— the meat loaf from Ruth’s Kitchen on Market Street.

With Major League Baseball clubs reporting to spring training in Florida and Arizona over the last week, preseason workouts are about to get underway moving into the 22nd season of Wilmington Senior Softball.  Details about getting involved in the 55-plus softball league, with three separate divisions based on age and skill level, log onto www.wilmingtonseniorsoftball.net.