influential local high school coach fred yee dies at 77

Speaking of basketball heroes... Out of the Pittsburgh area, we get sad news about the passing of Free Yee, a highly successful championship boys basketball and girls softball coach, who died last month of complications from lymphoma. He was 77: Obituary: Fred Yee / State champion basketball coach at Schenley.

Yee, a member of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, was best known as the coach of the Schenley High School boys basketball team that won a Pennsylvania Athletic Association championship in 1978. Mr. Yee also went on to win five City League titles with the Carrick High School girls softball team:
Mr. Yee was a retired physical education teacher from Pittsburgh Public Schools. His first coaching job was the head boys basketball coach at Westinghouse High School. He went from Westinghouse to Schenley during the glory days of Schenley basketball in the 1960s and '70s.

"Schenley was a dynasty back then, an absolute dynasty," said Ken McDonough, who was then an assistant coach at Peabody. "I was amazed they didn't win more state titles and please don't take that as a reflection on coaching. It's just that those teams were all so impressive. They played hard and [opponents] had to overcome so much natural talent and athletic ability."

From 1966 through 1978, Schenley won four state championships. Mr. Yee's 1978 team had a memorable championship game against Lebanon High School and 7-foot Sam Bowie, who would go on to play at the University of Kentucky and in the National Basketball Association. Schenley won, 51-50.
Amidst all the exciting hoopla over Jeremy Lin, I thought it was cool to see another Asian American acknowledged as trailblazer, albeit on a much smaller community level. Still, Yee was the first Asian to be included into the Western Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. That counts for something. More here: Winning Schenley coach's life exemplified value of hard work.

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