Hall of fame St. Mary’s football coach, Porritt, set to retire

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 7, 2021

 After helping lead the school to multiple state championships, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s head football coach and Athletic Director George Porritt has decided to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school term.

After helping lead the school to multiple state championships, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s head football coach and Athletic Director George Porritt has decided to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school term.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ORCHARD LAKE — After graduating from Hillsdale College more than three decades ago, George Porritt said he got the “coaching bug.”

That “bug” has led to a hall of fame career and the opportunity to impact thousands of lives.

This is Porritt’s 32nd season as the head football coach at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, and prior to the launch of this year’s campaign, he announced it will be his last.

At the end of the 2021-22 school term, Porritt is set to relinquish his duties as the school’s football coach and athletic director.

Coming into the season, Porritt had a 270-84 career record, with seven state championships and 14 league championships.

At press time, the Eaglets were 4-1 this season.

Porritt has also coached other sports at St. Mary’s, helping lead the basketball program to one state title and the lacrosse program to two during his tenure at the school.

He was inducted into the Catholic High School League Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Coaches Hall of Fame earlier this year.

In 2007, he was selected as the Army National High School Football Coach of the Year.

Porritt was visiting his daughter in Tennessee last Easter when he started to think about retiring.

“I just decided that it was time and wanted to have some time with my family,” he said. “I’ll still be here at the school helping out wherever I can because I never wanna just leave this place; I love St. Mary’s. It’s been good to me.”

St. Mary’s Preparatory High School Headmaster Bob Pyles shared some thoughts about Porritt via a press release.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches this state has known, but at his core, George is an educator,” Pyles stated. “He’s developed positive relationships with students that have changed lives and given them examples of faith and teamwork that stay with them long after their high school athletic days. … It’s right to call him a legend around here and throughout our extended community.”

After returning home from Tennessee, Porritt spoke with his wife and finalized his decision.

Despite coming to the conclusion that it was time to set a new course for his life, Porritt’s decision wasn’t an easy one to make.

“It was tough, because I love being around the kids and love coaching,” he said.

His time patrolling the sidelines hasn’t come to an end yet, but Porritt has already thought about what he’ll miss the most in retirement.

“Being around the fellow coaches, the excitement of the games, the kids and the hard work they put in,” he said. “I’ll miss that. There’s no question. But it’s time they get somebody new to take over and lead on the traditions.”

Porritt and his wife, Terry, have been married for 37 years and have three children — Kenny, Marilynn and Mason.

Both of his sons played football at St. Mary’s.

Porritt’s family has had “mixed emotions” about his decision to retire.

“My wife always enjoyed my coaching. The kids always enjoyed my coaching,” he said. “My boys played for me, and they’ve got mixed emotions about it, like I do at times. But they’re very supportive.”

When it comes to the biggest influencers in the lives of student-athletes, coaches are often right at the top of the list, and Porritt has been mindful of the life lessons he has been in position to help instill.

“You want them to be good family people, I think, and godly. I think that’s important,” he said. “When you get into the job world, be somebody that people can rely on — consistent, on time, willing to work. I think sports has those valuable lessons: willing to work and do your job.”

Porritt said about 15 players who he’s coached have gone on to play in the National Football League, with one of them being current Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson.

Robinson is one of the players who learned more than just X’s and O’s during his time playing for Porritt.

“If you played for Coach Porritt, you learned how important it was to be committed to each other and the rewards that came from becoming a true team,” he stated via the release. “He instills that value in his players, and there are three decades of St. Mary’s men that are proud to call him coach.”

The impact Porritt has been able to have on student-athletes is something he said he’ll miss, and former players reaching out to let him know about the role he has played in their lives is perhaps his greatest reward as a coach.

“It’s the best,” Porritt said. “It’s the reason why you do it. … And sometimes, boy. Some of it shocks you. It’s the best feeling.”

There may be some tough moments to come for Porritt next season when he is not leading the Eaglets’ football program or athletics department, but he’s also thought about the bright side.

All of his children live out of state, and the opportunity to have more free time to see them can go a long way toward easing his transition.

“The No. 1 thing is seeing my kids. Being out of state, you only get so much time with them now, and I’ve got some grandkids,” Porritt said. “My wife and I can travel a little bit more, too.”

Porritt shared a message for St. Mary’s supporters.

“Thank you. Thanks for everything that’s been done for me here,” he said.

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