George Porritt, Athletic Director of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory, has just reached a career milestone by earning his 200th career victory as a varsity football coach after the Eaglets defeated Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 14-13, on Saturday, Oct. 15. It was the latest feather in the cap in a career that includes three state championships and five state runner-up finishes in football. In addition, as the school’s basketball coach, Porritt has led the Eaglets to 10 district championships, five regional titles and one state championship. Despite his success, Porritt remains hungry and is always striving for his players — and himself — to do better as he prepares the Eaglets for the upcoming state football playoffs. Porritt is married to his wife, Terry, and they have three children. He spoke with the Spinal Column Newsweekly earlier this week about his latest milestone and what he enjoys the most about coaching at St. Mary’s.
Congratulations on your 200th career victory. What does it mean to you to reach that milestone and what do you attribute it to?
GP: Well, it’s a nice thing, you know? It just means that I’ve had a lot of good players, and kids that have worked hard over the years. I’m very fortunate to have that (I’ve coached) the young men that I have at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, and we’ve developed a pretty good tradition there. But I thank all the players of the past. You know, it’s just a thing that’s nice to have after you think about it. But from now on, I’m trying to get to 201.
You first came to St. Mary’s as an assistant football coach in 1986 before taking over as the head coach in 1989. When you first started, what was your vision at the time and did you imagine that your coaching career would turn out the way that it has?
GP: Well, no. I knew I wanted to coach football. I came to Orchard Lake as an assistant, and I got a job as a history teacher my first year there, you know. And I wanted to coach football. Coach Rob Hager left after I was there for a couple years, and the job opened up and at the same time the principal there asked me to be the athletic director. So, I took both positions, so that’s what started it. I’ve been very fortunate to be at a great school and to work under good bosses and administration. I enjoy the kids very much, and watching our program grow from a small (Class) C school to a now large (Class) B school.
Serving as an athletic director for a school while also working as the head football and basketball coach seems like quite a challenge. How do you juggle those three positions?
GP: Well, I couldn’t do it without great help from my boss, Jim Glowacki, and my other administrative friends, Rich Rychcik and Robin Goddard. I have just been very fortunate that they love athletics, and they’ve helped me out so much. I’ve got a great administrative assistant — Annette Knight — that shares the burden of the work for me. I wouldn’t be able to do things without her. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had people that that have allowed me to do what I do so I thank them. It’s made it good for me.
What do you enjoy the most about coaching young men on a daily basis at St. Mary’s? What do you hope your players take away from being coached by you?
GP: Each day they come prepared to practice, so it’s enjoyable. I walk out to the practice field early each day, because I’m an early bird, but the kids are out there too, ready to roll. It’s fun to get out there early and enjoy the kids before practice starts, but then they have a sense of pride in what they do and they want to be out there and they want to be successful. And I enjoy that. I’ve had the privilege of being able to do that on the football field and on the basketball court. It’s the kids, and to me that’s just a reflection of our school.
Well, hopefully (the players take away) that we’ve had fun. The biggest thing you go through is high school, and I always tell them it’s the greatest time. You will remember this forever, and I hope that they’ve enjoyed it. I’ve hope there have been some disciplines that will help them later in life. But you know, enjoy it, and I think for the most part many, many have. And that’s what high school athletics is about — having fun and being disciplined and enjoying camaraderie with teammates, and having ever-lasting friendships with players and coaches that go on throughout life. I think that’s what I hope those kids get.
How much does it mean to you to see some of the players that you coach move on to the next level in college?
GP: It’s nice to see the players go to the next level. I’ve been fortunate to have many, but it’s just as pleasant to have the ones who come back and see be a lawyer or doctor or businessman or whatever. I enjoy that just as much. But I enjoy watching the kids and hearing about them at the next level. I think that’s a great thing, but I’ve enjoyed them all. And some of them that don’t go on to play football, they’re the ones who come back the most sometimes. I enjoy every aspect of the kids I’ve coached.
You’ve had so much success to this point that you could call it a career, yet you don’t seem complacent. How do you motivate yourself to keep competing at a high level?
GP: Well, I enjoy it. I’m very fortunate. My wife allows me — I have a lovely wife who allows me to coach. But I enjoy it. It’s a hobby of mine, and I have a great coaching staff that I enjoy being with all the time. They do so much. They make my job easier. But you come there, and if you enjoy it, keep doing it. And I really do and that keeps you motivated. If you enjoy what you’re doing, I think it keeps you motivated. And the kids. The kids keep you motivated, also. So that’s what I get out of it. I just enjoy coaching football, and I’m very fortunate to have a great staff and my wife helping me out, letting me coach.
What, if any, future aspirations do you have for yourself and the St. Mary’s athletic program?
GP: Well, to get better. We’re always trying to get better at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. We want to try to win. Each year is a new challenge and, you know, you try to be the best that year and keep the tradition going in the athletic world and in football. That’s what we want to continue. And we want to continue to grow and be the best football program we can be and be the best school we can be, and I think that’s important. School is so important for the young men and the young women that you just want to give them best experience possible so hopefully we can continue to grow and get better.