Beloved Buchtel High School coach Orlando Green remembered as being 'a great guy'

Orlando Green has been described as “a great guy” and “one of the nicest, most authentic gentlemen” by his friends and peers in the city of Akron.

The beloved Buchtel High School coach died suddenly on Sunday, Oct. 30, at the age of 52.

Green, a 1988 Buchtel High School graduate, served as coach of the Griffins girls cross country and girls track and field teams since 2015 and also worked with boys student-athletes on both teams.

Prior to that, Green was an assistant coach for Buchtel’s girls and boys cross country and track and field teams from the mid-1990s to 2015 under former coaches Bill Heideman and John Scott.

Green’s Buchtel track and field teams were regularly in the mix for City Series, district, regional and state championships.

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Buchtel wrestling coach and APS public address announcer Robert Hubbard has known Green for decades, and was stunned to hear of his passing when Buchtel boys track and field and boys cross country coach William Graham called him.

“When Billy called me, I thought, ‘That can’t be right,’” said Hubbard, a 1990 Buchtel graduate who has been Griffins wrestling coach since 2003.

“... I rode with him to the football game Friday [Oct. 28 when Buchtel defeated Woodridge in a Division IV, Region 13 first-round playoff game]. I couldn’t believe it when I heard. At the game, his daughter [London] showed up and sat with him. I thought, ‘She just lost her father and Toray lost her husband.’ That is huge. The hole he is leaving at Buchtel is huge. OG was maybe 5-8 or 5-9, but he was giant at Buchtel. … He was a Griff through and through more than almost anyone else. He went to Buchtel, he coached there and he worked security for basketball and football games.”

Graham also sat with Green at the Buchtel-Woodridge football game on Oct. 28 and talked with him that weekend about the Griffins track and field teams and college and professional football games.

“OG was built for this, he was built for coaching,” Graham said. “The impact that he had on the kids is special. … This is a huge loss. He was so active at Buchtel. He would go to every volleyball game, every basketball game and every football game. He would go to cheerleading events and performances in the auditorium. He would go to middle school basketball and middle school volleyball games. He was Buchtel.”

Akron Public Schools Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti said he always saw Green smiling.

“OG was one of our best,” Vassalotti said. “Obviously, a very successful head coach in both girls cross country and girls track and field, and a well respected coach not only throughout Akron and Northeast Ohio, but across the state of Ohio.

“The Buchtel girls track and field team for the last couple of years finished second in the state [in Division II]. They almost won state titles, but as accomplished as OG was as a coach I think he is even more beloved as a man, as a person, as a human being, as a role model and as a mentor for the student-athletes he coached. He will be greatly missed. … Multiple times he was voted [City Series] Coach of the Year in either cross country or track or both.”

Hubbard said he and Green sat at the Buchtel-Woodridge football game with a collection of Buchtel graduates and fans, including his daughter, London Green.

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“OG was not only revered as a coach, but he was also one of the nicest, most authentic gentlemen I have ever met in my career,” Akron Public Schools Assistant Athletic Director Ron Linger said.

“I have known him for probably 20 years. From a coaching standpoint, you could pretty much mark it down on a yearly basis he was either going to be the [City Series] girls cross country Coach of the Year or the girls track and field Coach of the Year, and in some years both. That was voted on by his peers. That tells you how well respected he was out there. We have this term nowadays where we say, ‘That is my guy.’ OG was everybody’s guy. Everybody’s. You couldn’t get a better person than Orlando Green. This is a loss not only in the coaching ranks, but a community loss. He is irreplaceable, in my opinion.”

Scott described Green as “active in the community” and “very loyal to Buchtel.”

“Orlando was so good with the kids,” said Scott, who coached track and field and cross country athletes for more than 40 years, with the majority of the years at Buchtel.

“Orlando was patient with them, but he made them work. We had workouts to do and he made sure that they got done. … He is a great guy. I have known him since he came into ninth grade at Buchtel. I had him in class [for 10th grade American Literature]. We had a wonderful friendship. I loved him like a son.”

Green competed in football and track and field during his time as a student-athlete at Buchtel. He then worked on Heideman and Scott’s staff in the 1990s.

Green was an assistant coach when Scott guided Buchtel to outdoor track and field boys state team championships in Division I in 1996 and in Division II in 2006 and to boys Division II-III indoor track and field state team titles in 2005 and 2006.

Green was also an assistant when Scott led Buchtel to an outdoor track and field girls state team championship in Division II in 2007 and to girls Division II-III indoor track and field state team titles in 2005 and 2007.

During Green’s time as an assistant track and field coach at Buchtel, the boys teams won 13 City Series championships, three district titles and two regional crowns and the girls teams won 17 City Series championships, four district titles and four regional crowns.

Green added several more championships as a Buchtel head coach.

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Beloved Buchtel High School coach Orlando Green dies suddenly