HAGERSTOWN — Every so often Rich Porac Jr. visits family and friends in Washington County.
But his visit Thursday was a little different. Instead of coming as a friend, this time he was an enemy — a basketball coach for an opposing team.
Porac, who is the son of longtime official Rich Porac Sr., is in his second season as coach at Albert Einstein and made a triumphant return with the help of the Titans’ 81-72 overtime victory over North Hagerstown in the Maryland Class 3A boys playoffs.
Afterward, the team bus heading back to Montgomery County had to wait a little as Porac greeted many well-wishers who stayed to visit with him following the game.
“Here, in Washington County, are all my friends,” said Porac, who played for Kevin Murphy at Williamsport before graduating in 1996. “It’s exciting to be back. My best friends still live here. This is where I learned all my life skills.”
He has coaching in his bloodstream now.
Porac went to High Point (N.C.) College before heading to the University of Maryland, where his father had played basketball under Lefty Driesell.
He became a team manager for two years under coach Gary Williams, to whom he attributes some of his animated moves as a coach on the sidelines.
“I love my dad and love coach Williams,” Porac said. “They gave me a competitive instinct. And as a team manager, coach Williams taught me about accountability.”
Coaching hit the radar when he became a teacher in the Montgomery Schools system.
He taught and eventually became a junior varsity coach at Blair and Magruder before he was hired at Einstein, a school that needed an infusion of new basketball blood.
The outlook is starting to turn around. In his first season Einstein won only two games, but currently stand at 11-13 after Thursday.
“Really, in college or high school basketball is Xs and Os and you are managing a team,” Porac said.
On Thursday, fans got a chance to see Porac at work as he patrolled the Einstein sideline. He was outside the coach’s box and a step, or two, onto the floor at times. He lashed out at his players when he was displeasured but he was also the first to pat them on the back with their good play.
In the end, after a grueling overtime battle against North, Porac had a successful return home.
“It was an exciting win, I’m glad for the kids,” he said.
His basketball bloodlines also stem from his father.
Rich Sr. was a member of the 1972 Maryland Terps that won the National Invitation Tournament. He played with such notables as current Maryland congressman Tom McMillen and basketball analyst Len Elmore.