Frank Orlando is pictured during a ceremony for him before the Yellowjackets’ final regular-season home game against Grosse Pointe North. Orlando is set to receive the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement coaching high school basketball.

Frank Orlando is pictured during a ceremony for him before the Yellowjackets’ final regular-season home game against Grosse Pointe North. Orlando is set to receive the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement coaching high school basketball.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Country Day coach Frank Orlando hangs up the whistle

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 26, 2019

 Frank Orlando is pictured during a ceremony for him before the Yellowjackets’ final regular-season home game against Grosse Pointe North. Orlando is set to receive the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement coaching high school basketball.

Frank Orlando is pictured during a ceremony for him before the Yellowjackets’ final regular-season home game against Grosse Pointe North. Orlando is set to receive the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement coaching high school basketball.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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BEVERLY HILLS — When he got into coaching, Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day girls basketball coach Frank Orlando said he didn’t expect to win anything. He just wanted to coach some kids and have some fun. Now, 52 years later, the legendary coach has decided to retire with 797 wins to his name.

Orlando has been at Country Day since 1981. He has 13 state titles under his belt and nearly 800 wins compared to just 126 losses. He is the all-time winningest girls basketball coach in the state.

Orlando said his decision to retire came two years ago when he suffered a stroke and everything changed.

“I just decided that in the long run I would be better off not coaching,” Orlando said. “It became harder and harder to coach. I just felt it was time to retire.”

In his last regular-season home game Feb. 28, the Yellowjackets beat Grosse Pointe North 58-57 thanks to some late free throws from Jasmine Powell.

Orlando said it was great to go out with a win, but what made that night more special was the more than 100 former players who were in the building during the game.

Orlando has coached some incredible talent over his years at Country Day. Powell — who just finished her senior season and helped lead the Yellowjackets to back-to-back Class B state titles in 2017 and 2018 — will head to the University of Minnesota next year to join another former Yellowjacket, Destiny Pitts.

Orlando also coached former Michigan State Spartan Aerial Powers, who graduated from Country Day in 2012 and would go on to be the fifth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft.

Orlando said there are many favorite moments that come to mind when looking back on his career. But one that sticks out to him is his first state title in 1989. Peggy Evans, who now goes by Peggy Carr, scored 47 points in a Class C state title game against Saginaw Valley Lutheran. The Yellowjackets won 71-59.

That’s what it’s always been about for Orlando  — the kids. He doesn’t dismiss the state titles, but the lasting impression this job has left on him is the different kids he was able to coach for over half a century.

“As I look at it, the most important thing to me in all these years was the relationships I had with the kids,” Orlando said. “The state championships are wonderful, but I still feel the most important thing was my relationships with the kids. As I think about it more, it was more important than anything else.”

When asked about post-retirement plans, Orlando laughed. He was in the middle of watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on TV and thinking he should be out doing something else.

Orlando has 12 grandchildren, all of whom are playing some kind of sport. He thinks they’re all going to be pretty good players, and he wants to make more time to attend their games.

Even in a life after coaching, Orlando is still focused on growing relationships.

“It’s just fun to think about the family,” Orlando said. “I’ll have more time for doing family things.”

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