A month after being named interim head coach of the Colby Community College women's basketball program, Shareka Maner is getting used to her new role.
"For me, this opportunity was something I wanted to happen," she said. "It came a little sooner than I expected, but I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason."
The Florida native began at CCC in August as an assistant to Chris Marks, who was hired as head coach last July. Maner planned to get some experience that would support her aspirations of becoming a head coach herself one day.
On Nov. 7, her plan changed quickly. Marks tendered his resignation, effective immediately, and Maner did not have time to consider the repercussions because the Lady Trojans had a non-conference road game against Northwest Kansas Technical College that night.
For the moment, she transitioned well. Her team dug out of a double-digit hole and pulled off the 90-86 upset.
Wins for the women's basketball program have not come easy in recent years. Entering this season, the Lady Trojans posted a record of 29-126 since 2012. During that period they went 8-83 in the competitive Kansas Junior Community College Conference and the only year they did not finish last was a five-win season in 2014-15.
As they arrived at the holiday break this week, Maner and the Lady Trojans already won two KJCCC contests. The victories mark Colby's second most conference wins since posting four in 2011-12.
While wins are a priority for any coach, Maner's goals for her players reach beyond the gym.
"I believe that the game of basketball can be an extension of life," she said. "The qualities and traits that should be prominent in our lifestyle, as well as our play on the court, should be trust, leadership, loyalty, honesty, respect, accountability, confidence, dependability, dedication, and enthusiasm."
Maner said support from the community of Colby has made her transition even smoother. She is grateful for the opportunity to enter her first head coaching role and feels she is equipped because of her background playing at the University of Maine and Henderson State University.
"I've been preparing for this role my entire life, and with my collegiate playing experience at both the Division I and Division II levels I know what it takes to be a student-athlete and compete at the highest level."