Lightning’s Harrison earns top coaching honor

Longtime Coach Michael Harrison of the Oxford Lightning Girls (OLG) basketball team was recently presented the 2016 Youth Sports Coach of the Year Award from the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (mParks).

Harrison was one of the founders of the basketball program, which is offered through the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department. He has served as an OLG coach since its inception 10 years ago.

Harrison humbly took no credit for the honor.

Longtime Lightning Coach Michael Harrison and his daughter Kelsey Harrison, a 2013 OHS graduate. Photo by Elise Shire.
Longtime Lightning Coach Michael Harrison and his daughter Kelsey Harrison, a 2013 OHS graduate. Photo by Elise Shire.

“This award is really due to the parents and the girls I work with,” he said. “Without them, there would be no Lightning program. Without the support of the parents’ at the Cage (Fieldhouse in Swartz Creek) and the participation of the girls, this would not be possible. That’s what the program is all about – the parents and the players.”

The coach’s involvement with the OLG program began when his daughter, Kelsey Harrison, a 2013 graduate of Oxford High School, became interested in basketball at a young age.

Having had several years of youth basketball coaching under his belt at the time, Harrison wanted to give girls, like his daughter, an opportunity to advance themselves in competitive basketball.

The goal of the program is to prepare fourth-through-eighth-grade girls for competition at the middle school and high school levels.

“Even though my daughter’s been out of this for seven years, I’ve just loved doing this,” Harrison said. “She was on the original starting team and it made me realize how many other girls were interested in this.”

The Youth Sports Coach of the Year Award was one of many community service honors presented around Michigan by mParks.

The state-wide award honors the commitment, enthusiasm, and accomplishments of an outstanding youth sports coach.

Starting in October, Harrison said he will take an indefinite hiatus from coaching due to medical reasons.

Daniel Sullivan, recreation supervisor for Oxford Township Parks & Recreation, was very complimentary of Harrison’s coaching skills.

“He’s been a great asset to the program,” Sullivan said. “He was a phenomenal coach and he’ll be missed greatly. He’s coached over 100 young girls and most of them have moved on to play in the high school basketball program. You don’t get volunteers like him every day and we wanted to show him our appreciation.”

While Harrison won’t be coaching in the fall, he says he will be standing on the sidelines, cheering on the young athletes.

“I’ll miss the girls, parents, and (the sense of) camaraderie with the other coaches,” Harrison said. “I am looking forward to watching the upcoming freshman team playing next year, though. They’re a great team.”

 

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