Subscribe to the ZAA Email Newsletter:


Retired Coach & Educator

Orlin Verl Coleman, also known as the "Father of Zionsville Football", has made many contributions to his community as an educator and coach. Born in Lexington, IN, on February 19, 1932, Orlin spent his childhood predominantly in New Castle, IN, where he developed his love for sports and played football, basketball and golf. He received a football scholarship to Western New Mexico University where he majored in secondary education, specifically the Industrial Arts and also minored in business and physical education. However, when the school had to cut some of his scholarship money due to funding and knowing that his family could not afford to pay for him along with his six siblings, Orlin left school to be drafted into the Army during

the Korean War overseas in Germany. Prior to his departure, he married his wife, Norma, whom he had known since junior high school. When he came back in 1954, he regained his scholarship and was able to graduate from Western New Mexico in 1958, having made all conference in football his senior year, and winning his golf conference both junior and senior years.

That same year, they had their first child and son, Kevin. Fresh out of college and with a new baby to take care of, Orlin began teaching in Anthony, NM, where he was also the assistant football and golf coach and ran a summer swimming program. In 1960, Orlin and Norma's daughter, Lisa, was born. It was only a year later that they had another son, Randall. With three young children, Orlin accepted a job in Zionsville, IN but not before he watched his football team go on to win the New Mexico State Championship in 1962.

Hired because of his athletic background, Orlin began working in Zionsville as an Industrial Arts teacher in 1963, although it wasn't until 1969 before the football program began. Starting with seventh and eighth grade students, Orlin coached the football team into high school, starting out as a reserve team, or non-varsity team. It was in 1972 when Orlin began coaching his first full varsity season, which progressed to ten years as the varsity coach. During his time as coach, he led the Zionsville Eagles to two 10-0 seasons, two 9-1 seasons and two conference championships. He had a total of 79 wins and only 31 losses.

Starting in 1964, Orlin coached freshman basketball for two years before moving up to coach the junior varsity until 1978. He also started the Zionsville boy's golf program in 1968 in which he coached until 1978 and led teams to numerous victories in conferences.

In 1978 Orlin retired from the classroom, but not as his role as an educator, as he was promoted to the Athletic Administrator of Zionsville High School. An initiative Orlin took as well was to start the Athletic Hall of Fame at Zionsville High School which recognized the teams and individuals whose outstanding performance warrant them a little piece of Zionsville history by placing their picture on a wall in the hallway. Orlin occupied the title as Athletic Director until his retirement in 1994. That same year he received the title as Athletic Administrator of the Year by the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

Since his retirement, Orlin has received several awards. He was inducted into the Zionsville High School Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and in 2011, the Zionsville High School Gold Hall of Fame. Today he still lives in Zionsville where he continues his love for sports by working at the Zionsville Golf Course. He lives with his wife and spends time with his three children - all of whom have gone on to marry - and his six grandchildren.

Orlin always challenged his players and coaches to follow his lead. He set the bar high in the areas of integrity and sportsmanship. He was a fantastic coach, role model and mentor. He was my coach for four seasons of football and basketball. It was during this time that he had a tremendous affect on my growth as a young man as well as my next thirty three years as a coach and teacher. I have always felt his influence as a coach helped me make my career decision. It is for these reasons that I nominate Orlin Coleman to receive this well deserved honor.

Nominated by Gary Rabb