Al Schrauben had always planned on being a football coach.
But when Portland St. Patrick was in need of someone to take over its girls basketball program just over three decades ago, Schrauben decided to change directions.
That decision has brought plenty of success for Schrauben, who reached a big milestone this week when he became the fourth girls basketball coach in state history to reach 600 career varsity coaching victories.
“It’s worked out well,” said Schrauben, said of his decision to switch from coaching football to girls basketball in the days when both sports took place in the fall.
“(This milestone) means I’ve been around a long time and that I’ve had a lot of fun and worked with a lot of great kids and coaches and parents. A lot of things go into the program, and I consider this a program accomplishment.”
Detroit Country Day’s Frank Orlando, Sandusky’s Al Demott and Warren Regina’s Diane Laffey – who each remain active – are the only girls basketball coaches with more career wins than Schrauben, who is in his 32nd season leading St. Patrick.
“Certainly you’re proud and pleased that the program has continued to do well over the years,” said Schrauben, who has guided St. Patrick to six Class D state titles and four runner-up finishes. “Certainly there was a great amount of satisfaction (reaching the milestone). I think the girls were maybe more excited than me.”
St. Patrick senior Hannah Greenwood, who is in her third season on the varsity roster, said she and teammates relish the opportunity to play and learn from a legendary coach. And they were happy to be able to play a part Tuesday in the latest milestone of Schrauben’s decorated coaching career.
“It’s very fun (playing for him),” Greenwood said. “It’s fun because we know we helped him get that far. It was fun to see his reaction (Tuesday), because he really doesn’t have one. Just being a part of the team and knowing that he’s so successful and having such a well-known coach is such a good feeling.”
Schrauben, who has 602 career victories, said his 32-year run on the sidelines has been enjoyable. And as long as he is having fun and enjoying what he does, Schrauben plans to continue coaching.
“I like being around the kids and the parents have been very good to me,” Schrauben said. “We’ve been successful so it’s been a lot of fun. Certainly if I hadn’t been having fun, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
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