Trinity family mourns
The Death of Coach Harry DeFrank

Thursday, June 28, 2007
BY ANDREW LINKER, Harrisburg Patriot News

Hall of Fame notes: Coach DeFrank won two state championships, had 585 wins, he had 21 girls go on to Division I scholarships.  Can any other coach claim as many Division I scholarships?

Carlisle Sentinel  article  HERE

Like so many of Trinity's future players, Chrissy Walker served water before she ever scored a basket.

This was both a rite and privilege at Trinity High School, where grade schoolers worked as water girls long before playing basketball for Harry DeFrank.

Walker did just that in the early 1990s, when her sister, Amy, was one of DeFrank's best players.

"After the games," Walker said yesterday, "I would run up and down the court with the other kids and my mom would yell to him, 'You better be around when Chrissy is playing' and he would say, 'I don't know if I'll be around that long.'

"But he did," she said, "and he stayed around for another eight years after I graduated."

Walker graduated in 1999, following her sister as another star in a timeline of stars that DeFrank created for 23 seasons at the Shiresmantown school.

A failing heart forced him into retirement on May 22, exactly five weeks before his death late Tuesday night at Holy Spirit Hospital.

"This was an utter surprise," Walker said. "Once he retired, I thought he could spend more time with his wife and family, and go to the games and enjoy them more instead of always being on the sidelines."

Trinity was planning on DeFrank being there, too.

Jeff Boger, the Shamrocks' athletic director, said that even before DeFrank's death the school was making plans to honor him before the start of the basketball season.

Larry Kostelac Jr., the boys' basketball coach, said he was hoping DeFrank would spend some time with his team.

"He told me, 'I'm going to be around. You know that,'" Kostelac said. "Now, it's hard to imagine he won't be there. We all have a tendency to think things are going to last forever."

Kostelac had known DeFrank for nearly his entire life.

"He was my first coach," Kostelac said. "He gave me my first helmet."

That was in Peewee football for Good Shepherd. Sometime around 1964. Maybe '65.

"My dad looked at him and said, 'Harry, what are you doing? He can't even see through that helmet.' I didn't even know how to put it on."

DeFrank showed him and then coached him. And for the last 23 of his 80 years, DeFrank showed everyone else how well he could coach as he built Trinity into one of the premier girls' basketball programs in Pennsylvania.

He won an extraordinary amount of games -- 585 of the 712 he coached -- while helping the Walker sisters and 19 others earn Division I college scholarships.

And, occasionally like most coaches, he would shout at his players, sometimes using language that would make the nuns in the stands blush.

"He would definitely yell at you to get his point across, but at the same time he would smile at you," Walker said. "It was tough love. He wanted to make you a better player and a better person."

And a humble person. DeFrank never sought to embarrass an opponent, even though he almost always had the talent to do so.

Running up the score simply was not his style.

Nor did he ever seek attention for those 585 victories

"He tried to downplay his accomplishments," Boger said. "He was always about the program, the girls and the school."

DeFrank was the face of that school's basketball program for nearly a quarter-century.

"He still hasn't aged since I was a water girl," Walker said.

"He always looked the same and acted the same. He never had to change. He was perfect, and I loved that."

ANDREW LINKER: 255-8289 or alinker@patriot-news.com