Daryl Lauderdale, the former boy’s basketball coach for Orange Park High School, said his induction into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame on Dec. 18 was a special night for him.
“I saw some former players and some of the parents I haven’t seen in 10 to 15 years,” Lauderdale said. “It was a warm evening that was very heartfelt. It was a good way to close the chapter.”
Lauderdale recently retired after 40 years of teaching and coaching. He coached at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville (1981-1990) before taking the Orange Park job. During his six-year tenure with the Raiders during the 1990s, Lauderdale compiled a 120-52 record. After leaving Orange Park, he taught and coached at Middleburg. He later ended his teaching career at Orange Park.
Lauderdale expressed gratitude to Orange Park High principal Treasure Pickett, Raider cheerleader sponsor Kathy Brannon, athletic director Martin Aftuck and coach Rob Garcia, all of whom were instrumental in planning and carrying out the induction.
“Kathy Brannon gave me a piece of the old floor that I played on in the very first game in that gym in 1967,” Lauderdale said. “That was sentimental for me. Where Kathy got it from I have no idea.”
Aftuck said Lauderdale was one of the top athletes to come out of Orange Park and returned to become one of the most prolific basketball coaches in school history.
“Daryl was a great coach, but an even better man and it’s an honor to be able to induct him into our hall of fame,” Aftuck said.
The ceremony was held before the Raiders hosted Middleburg High. Lauderdale said he was happy to see his friend Mike Harrison, the Bronco basketball coach, on the night of the induction. Lauderdale also said he was impressed with new Raider boys basketball coach Derek Kurnitsky.
Lauderdale said his induction bought back memories of his mentor, former Orange Park coach Ron Brummitt.
“My 10th grade year, he took a program that was in dire straits and totally transformed it into a winning program,” Lauderdale said. “He passed away a couple of years ago. He was my inspiration to become a good player and to be a coach. That’s one of the reasons I worked so hard to help kids play in college.”
Lauderdale, who also coached at Chaminade University of Honolulu (Hawaii) from 1990-93, said he was able to help 76 players obtain a scholarship to play basketball in college and 17 of those played professional basketball on some level during his coaching career.
“College coaches called me every year because they knew our kids were good academically, fundamentally sound and disciplined,” Lauderdale said. “I never sent a bad kid to college.”
One of Lauderdale’s better known players was Larry Richardson who played for the legendary Bobby Knight at Indiana.
Lauderdale told a story of Richardson talking to Knight during his official visit.
“Larry watched practice and afterwards Bobby Knight said, ‘What do you think of my practice?’ Larry said, ‘We do the same things for coach Lauderdale, but we do them a lot harder.’”
Lauderdale says Orange Park will always have a special place in his heart.
“I was the proudest of how the community embraced us,” Lauderdale said. “We had very few issues of all the years I was at Orange Park. We had kids that I liked and they liked me. We had a team concept, discipline concept and academic concept that worked for us. One of my goals was to have my kids so embraced that little kids would want their autographs.”