WNY Athletics

Manue brothers living American dream

Jack and Mark Manue are thankful that they will have a chance to continue their high school careers at the Section VI Track and Field Championships that are taking place at Niagara Falls High School Friday-Saturday.

“I’m very excited. We have a good chance of scoring well. I’m having a great time,” Jack Manue said. “It’s my senior year so I think this is my time to do my best and (work) my hardest and give everything I have. Have fun and we’re a team and a family. So I’ll be very glad if I make it to states. It’s a great experience.”

Both seniors on the Hutch-Tech track and field team, the Manue’s are doing their best to make the final weeks of their careers as memorable as possible.

“I ran all four years and it’s been an amazing experience,” Mark Manue said. “You don’t win all the time, but you learn every year. From every mistake you learn and improve. And you hope to go to states every year.”

More than that, the Manue’s are even more thankful to live in a country that affords them more opportunities then they thought was ever possible.

Originally from Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, the Manue family came to the United States in 2004. First migrating to Texas, before settling in Buffalo in 2008 to be closer to family.

“It was pretty much better opportunities,” Mark Manue said. “Better education. Better opportunities.”

“I don’t really have a lot of memories from Africa, actually. It’s like a gap,” Jack Manue said. “When I moved from Texas to Buffalo I was a little sad moving because I had a lot of friends.”

Jack said that while the move to Buffalo was a little hard at first it didn’t take long for WNY to feel like home.

The biggest adjustment for the Manue’s, not surprisingly, was dealing with their first snowfall. Something that, they jokingly said, lost its charm pretty quickly.

“The first time it was a very amazing experience,” Mark Manue said with a smile. “The first week was so awesome. Then the next week shoveling the snow was not that great.”

The Manue twins, who are 19, were both double medal winners at the All-High Track & Field Championships that were held on May 22-23.

Jack took first in the 100 and 200 dashes, while Mark AKA “The Liberian Locomotive” took first in the 400 and shot-put.

But when you talk to the Manue’s it isn’t their prowess on the athletic field that strikes you. It’s not even their natural charm and easy going personalities that make you feel as if you could talk to them all day.

What stands out about Mark and Jack Manue is a look of hope in their eyes. The smiles on their faces when they hear the word “opportunity.” They understand what the words American Dream mean.

“For me, seeing my cousins and my older sister they had the chance to go to college. Get a degree and get in a profession that pays well and they can support their families,” Mark Manue said. “That’s what I am trying to do for myself in the future.”

Engineers track coach Dave Sardo said that while Hutch-Tech is home to a many students from different countries and backgrounds the Manue’s truly are the embodiment of the American Dream.

They know what it’s like to come from having very little and understand how fortunate they are to be in a country where anything can happen.

“We have a lot of kids in this school who are American Dream stories,” Sardo said. “Kids who come from somewhere else where life was tough and make good here. This school is full of blue collar kids, but those two typify. They’re the top of the heap. They totally appreciate it. They totally make the best of it. They’ve been in every club that you can think of. They’ve been in band. They’ve absolutely soaked in as much experience as they could in a short amount of time.”

Coming from another country gives the Manue’s the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective. Unlike the average person who was born in the US who might take things for granted and grouse at the most minor inconvenience. The Manue’s can use their life experiences to remind their friends that even though the United States might not be perfect, it still gives you the chance to reach for your dreams.

“For me and my other friends who weren’t born here we tell our fellow students this (country) is not bad. This is amazing!” Mark Manue said. “You can do way worse right now. Take advantage of your opportunities no matter what happens.”

Jack Manue echoed his brother’s words.

“It’s so much better (here),” Jack Manue said. “It’s cleaner. Better food. Better chances. You’re just a lot a happier in life.”

Hoping to have a wife and kids of his own someday, Jack Manue continued by saying he will do his best to give his family an even better way of life. A life where they will know where their family comes from. And how lucky they are to be a first generation child in a country that allows you to go as far as your gifts will take you.

Also involved in the ROTC program at Hutch-Tech, the Manue’s play sax in the school band and are both honor students. Sardo said that the way the Manue’s make the most of every chance serves as an inspiration to their teammates to do the same.

“On our team there’s a lot of kids that come from similar places,” Sardo said. “Therefor they can all look each other in the eye and say there’s no excuses here. Cause I had it just as tough as you. You’ve had it just as tough as me. So we hold each other accountable. Again, those guys are the tip of the iceberg. And they do it in a positive manner.”

The Manue’s, who live in Riverside with their parents and three older siblings, said that they feel they have the best of both worlds. They not only enjoy the good fortune of living in the US. Their extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles and the strong WNY Liberian community helps them stay connected to their roots.

“The Liberian community is like that safety net that’s always around and helps you feel less homesick,” Mark Manue said.

Preparing for their citizenship test in July, the Manue’s have been to Philadelphia were they not only saw the Liberty Bell, the ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum-just like Rocky Balboa.

Though Brigham Young University has come up as a potential destination the Manue’s, their college plans are not set in stone. And that’s ok. Being uncertain about choices means that you have options. And that’s what the Manue’s came to this country for in the first place.

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