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Ann Marie's All Stars: Coach Frank Orlando celebrates 50 years on the bench

Posted: 6:14 PM, Feb 22, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-22 23:12:28-05

He’s a high school basketball legend celebrating 50 years as a coach.

‘Coach O’ is what he’s know as to thousands of past and present players.  Frank Orlando is the winningest high school girls’ basketball coach of all time.

“Basketball is a way of life,” Orlando said.

He’s been leading the way for countless high school athletes out on the court for decades.

“I like high school kids, it’s a time in their life where they need coaching and people to be in their life, I feel that’s important,” he said.

He’s spent the last 35 years coaching girls’ basketball at Detroit Country Day.  Coach O has 748 wins under his belt, 11 state championships, he’s won national high school coach of the year, been inducted into the MHSAA Basketball Coach’s Hall of Fame and the hall of fame for baseball coaches.  He coached baseball for 48 years and Orlando says each of his thousands of players are all considered members of his family.

 “I saw a young man walking down the aisle, he said, coach do you remember me?” Orlando said. “He couldn’t believe it and he looked at his wife and he said – I told you he’d remember.”

And they remember him, not just for the games they won, but for the lessons he’s taught.

“He’s so caring and stuff, you wouldn’t know that about him,” Senior player Destiny Pitts said.  “He cares way more about the girls.”

They say nothing is off the table when it comes to looking for advice, even boys.

“When we talk to boys and stuff we ask them about him,” Pitts said.  “So we tell him, what do you think of this guy?”

Orlando says there’s no secret to coaching a winning team, no special formula no matter the sport or level of talent, it’s about something much bigger.

“It’s about willingness to sacrifice individual needs for the needs of the team,” he said. “If I could say anything about kids and this is the same for 50 years or now, it’s the same feeling.  Can you give up your own individual needs for that of the team?”

As for retirement, Coach O says he’s just not ready but maybe in a few years.

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