The many hats of Perry football coach Rob Porritt

Rob Porritt

MEA member Rob Porritt is a man of many hats and even more talents.

Until recently, Porritt simultaneously served as boys’ basketball coach at Haslett High School in Haslett Public Schools and as head football coach at Perry High School in Perry Public Schools.

That’s not all — Porritt also teaches English at Haslett High.

“Not only is Rob Porritt making a difference in one school, he’s doing it twice,” said Jack Ebling, host of WVFN-AM’s “The Drive with Jack Ebling,” who awarded Porritt with a “Building Leaders” award, which recognizes Mid-Michigan school employees who have gone above and beyond to help student athletes and is co-sponsored by MEA and Home Management Company.

Already the longtime head boys’ basketball coach in Haslett, Porritt was hired as Perry’s head football coach in 2011. He held both head coaching jobs for two years, before turning over the reins at Haslett for the sake of his students.

“I just felt like to some degree my being in two places at one time was a little bit unfair to the kids themselves,” Porritt explained.

“I had a lot of fun with those Haslett boys, doing the hoops gig for 17 years, and I was having a ton of fun with these Perry kids,” Porritt said. “Then I decided it was time to let someone else have some fun with that basketball program, so I stepped away.”

It was a selfless act, but not a shock, considering Porritt’s approach to teaching and coaching

“It’s important to me to build a relationship with the kids,” Porritt said. “Making people important and making other people your priority.”

Even though he’s only officially doing two jobs now, Porritt has a third role: inspirational community leader.

On the morning of June 5, 2013, an SUV driven by 19-year-old Zachary Clark flipped over on US-127 near Lansing. Clark, a Perry High School graduate who played football under Porritt, died on the scene. Login Winn, 19, a former teammate of Clark’s, was seriously injured.

“We all loved that kid so much,” Porritt said of Clark. “He obviously meant a ton to us and to me individually.”

Friends and family of Clark’s gathered at Perry’s first football game of the season on Aug. 29, where Porritt was tapped to deliver a memorial tribute. Ebling called the tribute “extremely touching for an entire community,” adding that Porritt has done a “terrific job of motivating, inspiring and leading a community through some troubled times”

“It was very tough to do — I was a mess, you know?” Porritt said. “I turned around, and there was a football game ready to kick off. So I figured I’d better get out of ‘mess mode’ as soon as possible. I think we kicked off about 90 seconds after that was over. As the ball’s flying through the air, I’m bawling my eyes out. But I righted the ship as soon as possible and tried to go with business as usual.”

Perry won, 17-7.

Click here to listen to the WVFN segment honoring Porritt.

To nominate a school employee for the “Building Leaders” award, email David Crim at dcrim@mea.org. Make sure to include in your email a description of the nominee’s efforts on behalf of student athletes.