Summer is a time for going on family vacations or lounging at the beach, not so for Jordyn Mantz, who keeps working overtime.
“While most people go to the beach to swim, I go to the beach to do agility drills and running in the sand,” said Mantz, a recent Kamehameha graduate.
The 5-foot-7 guard not only goes full blast on the court, attacking on offense and defense, but off it as well, training as if the air she breathes is only rewarded for hard work.
“For me, basketball never stops. The only days of the year I don’t have basketball planned is Christmas and New Years,” Mantz said. “I spend at least four to six hours every day dedicated to basketball and training. On my own time when I have no trainer, I put at least 300 to 500 makes every day, ranging from mid-range and 3-pointers to pull-up jumpers.
“This summer, I’ve spent every day training in Pahoa with the Pahoa basketball coach Po Maui. His offseason boys team is called Fam Biz, and he has welcomed me and my siblings to his practices Monday through Friday. On the weekends, he works with us on speed, agility, and core training.
“I’ve also worked out several times when I visited Oahu with (Kaiser) coach Bri Lagat-Ramos on ball-handling and attack-move workouts.”
Lagat-Ramos is a personal trainer and runs a clinic called Hoops Artistry. She recommended Mantz to Arizona Western College, where she got a full-ride scholarship.
The Matador coaching staff liked her deadly shooting and strong body structure for a guard. On her hudl videos, the Matador coaching staff could also appreciate that she can run the floor and finish in transition and apply defensive pressure.
It helps that Mantz has lean muscle and a sturdy lower half. When taller opponents try to bump, challenge or intimidate her, she can give it right back.
In her junior year, she and her dad Chris Mantz emailed 300 different schools, ranging from Division I to junior colleges.
She had a few Division II and NAIA half-offers, along with full-rides from four other JCs. But when Mantz talked to the Matadors she was sold.
“I was told that I will be a strong asset needed on their team not only as the shooter, but also the scorer, and the team’s all-around stat player, as far as rebounds and assists as well,” she said. “In other words, they’re not wasting this full-ride scholarship on just anybody.”
AWC is not just any Juco either. Under coach Patrick Cunningham, who built the program from scratch in 1999, the Matadors have had 17 straight seasons of 17 wins or more.
He also knows the vibe of Big Island players. Other BIIF players at AWC were Sefulu Faavae (Waiakea), 2013-15; Hunter Liftee (Honokaa), 2014-16; and Shemika Frazier (Honokaa), 2014-16.
Mantz will major in studio art and aspires for a career in the art industry, whether it’s drawing, painting, teaching or running her own art gallery.
“I’m very excited. My scholarship gives me the opportunity to move away from home and experience life on my own while doing the two things I love: art and basketball,” she said. “My parents (Chris and Pua Mantz) see this as a huge accomplishment for me, as far as showing how far I’ve grown as a basketball player. I was never a star player and actually wasn’t naturally athletic in the first place.
“But my progress shaped me into the player I am today, something that took forever and was not built overnight. It was built by outworking people as well as finding the many coaches willing to offer me the knowledge and skill-set I have now, all the way up to the day I leave for college.”
Mantz counts her dad as her biggest influence, providing a boost of confidence and motivation when necessary, but she also had the good fortune to fall into the hands of influential local coaches.
She played soccer from ages 5 to 10 years old and one teammate was Nikki Pacheco, whose dad Dominic Pacheco is a long-time youth coach. Mantz was 8 years old at the time, bigger than the rest but also three years behind in development.
Three years later, Randy Apele, another youth coach whose best friend is basketball, reached out to Mantz, who was at a sports crossroad — play hoops or soccer. At age 11, she followed Apele’s advice and played on various club and travel teams — the preferred path of the serious hoopster.
She played club ball with Warriors Basketball (ages 8-12), Flygirls (13-14), Wahine Ryders (14-15), Hoop Dreams Basketball (15-16), and Stray-Katz Basketball (ages 14-17).
Mantz was on travel teams with Showtime! (age 11), Kona Stingrays (12), Wahine Ryders (13), Maui Sparks Basketball (14-17), Hawaii Storm (14-15), Hoop Dreams Hawaii (15), and Kona Stingrays again (age 16).
Mantz will travel during the summer to play in Las Vegas with an Oahu club team, Lightning, along with her sister, who’s starting her journey playing on travel teams.
She can breathe easily as she remembers all the hard work and words of wisdom from others.
“Another great trainer I worked with, Mark McLaughlin (former UHH basketball assistant) once told me, ‘Basketball is a marathon. It’s not where you start; it’s where you finish.’ Right now, I’m on mile 10 of 26.”