WRESTLING: Michigan wrestling community saddened by the loss of Rochester's Frank Lafferty | North Oakland Sports

WRESTLING: Michigan wrestling community saddened by the loss of Rochester’s Frank Lafferty

| February 16, 2017 | Comments (0)












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CLARKSTON — Veteran high school wrestling coach Frank Lafferty passed away Feb. 16, sending sadness through both the Oakland County and Michigan wrestling community.

A high school wrestling coach for more than three decades and a former state championship wrestler himself, Lafferty was 67. A Clarkston resident, he passed away after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lafferty, who was a retired railroad engineer from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, was in his 12th season as the head coach at Rochester High School, although he was scantly at practice and meets since the first of the year due to his declining health. 

“Frank had an amazing ability to build relationships with kids, and it showed in how much they loved and respected him,” said Rochester Athletics Director Luke Beach. “He could reach out to the kid who was struggling, and inspire them to persevere. I was fortunate enough to have several long impacting conversations with coach, conversations about life, those conversations will forever be with me. I watched him battle this disease with such a positive attitude, and I admire him for showing so much courage. Frank would let you know when you messed up, including me, but he’d put his arm around you right after and tell you he loved you. That’s leadership, and that’s how I aspire to lead.”

Lafferty helped Rochester return to the top 10 at the annual Oakland County Championships and led the Falcons to three straight district championships (2012-2014) and two league titles during his tenure. He also served as an assistant coach at Clarkston for some two decades.

Coach Lafferty was inducted into the Rochester Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016, which celebrated his many accomplishments as the varsity wrestling coach at Rochester and in the area as a whole. Lafferty was a graduate of Pontiac Northern High School, where he was a member of the 1966-67 Class A state champion wrestling team.

Lafferty was also the lone individual state champion on the team for Northern.

After his tenure at Clarkston under Mike DeGain, Lafferty guided team to numerous winning seasons, including the 2013 squad that captured the school’s first regional championship in the team dual format and reached the Division 1 state semifinals, also a school first.

He also coached two-time state champion Shwan Shadia (189, 2013, 2014).Lafferty was also named the 2013-14 MWCA Regional Coach of the Year.

“This community, really the whole wrestling community, lost a grade one in Frank,” said Rochester Adams head coach Mike Holtz, who served under Lafferty for a couple of seasons before taking over his own program. “He was a class act, a great mentor, a great coach and even a better man.

Personally, I learned a lot from Frank. He will be missed.”

Coaches around the Oakland Activities Association and Oakland County were saddened by the loss of a well-liked and well-respected colleague.

Current Oxford coach Paul McDevitt, who coached against Lafferty does of times over the past two-plus decades, echoed Holtz’s sentiments.

“Frank and I have known each other since I started coaching (in 1994). He was an assistant coach at Clarkston when I first started, and head coach at Rochester. He was just a class act,” offered McDevitt. “He was in it for the kids. He’s a competitor, fun to coach against him because his kids would always bring it. But he was also someone who had much higher standards than win at all costs. He was a mentor to me. I just hope that I can be half of the person he was.”

A loving husband to Gloria Lafferty for 45 years, Lafferty’s funeral will take place Feb. 20 at 12:30 p.m. at Lewis E. Wint & Son Funeral Home in Clarkston with the Interment at All Saints Cemetery. Family will receive guests for the wake on Feb. 19 from 2-9 p.m., also at Lewis E. Wint.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. the online Guestbook can be found at www.wintfuneralhome.com

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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