And Now You Know: Hryhorchuk was a Hall of Fame Coach

Published 10:05 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

Mike Louviere, And Now you Know

In 1967, local sportswriter Joe Kazmar wrote a story about Adolph Hryhorchuk who had been coaching basketball in Orange County for a number of years. 

At that time, Hryhorchuk was the winningest basketball coach in Orange County history. 

Kazmar wrote that the coach had almost not finished high school.

World War II was happening and at the start of his junior year at Deweyville High School Hryhorchuk dropped out of school and joined the Marine Corps to fight for his country. 

After being discharged, he reentered school in 1946 and with hard work and cooperation from the school he graduated in 1947.

He enrolled at Lamar College in Beaumont with the idea of playing basketball, that did not happen, he was stricken with tropical malaria and spent nearly two years in a veteran’s hospital.

After leaving the hospital, he enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State College. While at SFA, he participated in the track program. 

Hryhorchuk graduated in 1952.

His first teaching job was in a fifth-grade classroom at Vidor. He left Vidor in 1954 and became the basketball coach at Deweyville High School. In 1956, his team won the zone championship.

He left Deweyville and taught at Bancroft Elementary for a year then moved to Orangefield High School and coached boys and girls basketball. In 1959, both teams went to the regional playoffs. His boys team lost in the first round; the girls team lost the final game.

In the fall of 1959, Hryhorchuk moved to West Orange High School.

At the time of Kazmar’s 1967 article, the West Orange team had won four district championships and had a record of 144-93, including 44 straight district games won.

Buna had long been the unbeatable basketball team in the area. For years, it was understood that when you went on the court against Buna, you were likely to lose.

In the 1963-64 season, Hryhorchuk’s team beat Buna by 21 points ending Buna’s 121 game winning streak. The West Orange team went on to win 54 straight district games.

The coach was not without some peculiar mannerisms. 

He was always the first one off of the bus and the first one to enter a building on road trips.

He wore the same gray shirt, green tie, gray socks, and olive green pants to every ball game.

His plays were always diagrammed on the same clipboard with the same pencil. 

“One time the pencil broke; I taped it back together and have used it ever since,” he said. “Once we are on the bus, we never go back for any forgotten item.”

Hryhorchuk said the day of the game is not as bad as the day before a game. 

“Close games don’t affect me but sometimes it’s hard to relax after a game. Once I was so shook up I hugged the wrong woman after a game thinking it was my wife,” he said.

His coaching career consisted of two years at Deweyville, two years at Orangefield and 11 years at West Orange. He became athletic director at West Orange and when the West Orange and Orange school districts merged, he became the first athletic director for the newly combined school district. 

His coaching record for 15 years was 341-68.

In 1991, he was selected as a member of the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in recognition of his accomplishments as a coach and educator. He is also one of the few coaches to have coached both boys and girls teams to playoffs in Texas.

He left the basketball court in 1970 and became Superintendent of Schools of the Hudson Independent School District. After a few years at Hudson, he moved to the Warren Independent School District and retired as superintendent there.

After retirement, he moved back to Orange and was often seen either walking for exercise or working out at one of the local gyms, Body Workz Fitness Center. He believed in keeping in shape.

Adolph Hryhorchuk died on June 2, 2010 at the age of 83. Two of his former players Ronnie Johnson and Johnny Hawkins spoke at his funeral.

He had been married to his wife Janell almost 57 years, they were the parents of three daughters and one son.

He was always glad to see former students and they were glad to visit with their old coach.

“And now you know.”