|Mike O'Donnell has had success coaching high school basketball in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Now he'll try to do the same with the U.P.'s only D-III school.|
Three-time U.P. Coach of the Year Mike O'Donnell has been named the head coach of the Finlandia men's basketball program.
"We're extremely excited to have Mike come back and be a part of the Finlandia Lions family once again," athletic director Chris Salani said. "The successes he's had as a basketball coach and as a teacher exemplify what we want from our student athletes here at Finlandia."
O'Donnell is a 2004 graduate of Finlandia, where he was a four-year letter winner and captain of the Lions basketball team.
"Being able to come back to my alma mater is something I'm extremely excited about," he said. "This is a place where I had success as a player and a student, and I hope help my players learn to be successful not only on the court, but in the classroom as well."
O'Donnell was on the Lions team that won the 2001 NSCAA tournament. In fact, he was named the tournament's MVP as a sophomore. The accolades followed him to Negaunee Public Schools, where he served as an elementary school teacher and varsity head coach. He was named 2013 Negaunee Schools Teacher of the Year, as well as Class ABC Coach of the Year by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
While under his lead the Miners won six Mid Peninsula Conference championships, eight district championships, six regional championships and played in the MHSAA Class C State Semifinals game on three occasions. Overall the Miners were 180-48 during his tenure with the team.
"We are confident Mike will bring with him the same attitude and hard work that has made him a highly successful player, teacher and coach," Salani said.
For O'Donnell, it's an opportunity to continue doing what he loves for a program he's passionate about.
"Our goal will be to build a strong, successful Division III basketball program with a core of players who love to call the Upper Peninsula home," O'Donnell said. "This is a unique program in our region, and I think it's a great opportunity for U.P. players to showcase their talents."