Former two-sport coach dies

WARREN, Mich. – Paul Mandziara, the last to coach both varsity basketball and football at De La Salle Collegiate, died Sept. 4. He was 83 years old.

Mandziara coached the Pilots from 1966-67 to 1968-69, replacing coach Tom Tramski on the gridiron and hardwood.

The most-notable victory – perhaps in school history – came during the Mandziara era when, in the 1968 Class A state basketball tournament, the Pilots pulled off a remarkable 68-60 upset win over defending state champs Detroit Pershing and Ralph Simpson, who later starred in the ABA and NBA.

Jim Stiller receives advice from coach Paul Mandziara before checking into a game during the 1967 season.

That season, Mandziara’s Pilots – led by all-state forward Frank Merrick – compiled a 12-1 regular-season record; 15-5 overall to capture the division championship.

“He was a great character builder for me and my teammates,” said Michael McGavin, Class of 1968. “I thank him for those lessons. RIP, Coach.”

Mandziara is a graduate of the University of Detroit, where he played football for the Titans. Besides De La Salle, Mandziara also coached at Detroit Saint Thomas the Apostle and Center Line. In his 3l years of coaching basketball, his teams compiled a 341-218 record. He posted a 27-27 basketball record for the Pilots.

In 1979, Mandziara was inducted into the Catholic League Hall of Fame, and in 1994 he was named Macomb County Basketball Coach of the Year.

Mandziara and his wife Mary have three children, Nancy, Mary and Elizabeth.