Mike Brendlinger has retired after 21 years as head coach of the Pottsgrove High School girls basketball team. The Falcons won over 200 games during his tenure and at the same time, Brendlinger earned the respect and admiration of players, coaches and athletic directors around the school, the league and the district.
“He’s a man of great character in the school district, the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 girls basketball,” said Pottsgrove athletic director Steve Anspach. “He’s a person who’s always thinking three steps ahead. He always put his players in the best possible position.”
“First and foremost, he’s a total gentleman and he’s always prepared,” said Gary DeRenzo, Anspach’s predecessor as AD. “He was in the gym all the time in summer leagues and in summer workouts.”
And that appreciation went both ways.
“First off, coaching in the PAC, there are very good people in the PAC,” said Brendlinger. “The camaraderie with the coaches, I had a lot of fun with them. Just getting out and working with young people all the time keeps me young. I enjoyed the practices. It was fun to work with young people, try to create a positive attitude. The athletic directors are very supportive. They support the students. They support the coaches. They’ve been great.”
The Falcons went 213-209 under Brendlinger, winning the PAC championship in 2009 and Frontier Division titles in 2019 and 2020. His teams made the PAC playoffs 11 times and the District 1 playoffs 11 times as well. He was named Coach of the Year by The Mercury in 2009 and 2019.
“We had some good teams here, but the 2009 team kind of stands out,” he said. “It was an up and down year, but we got together at the end.”
Brendlinger earned letters in basketball and baseball during his junior and senior years at Upper Perkiomen and began his coaching career as boys basketball coach at Eisenhower Junior High and Rittenhouse Middle School in the Norristown School District from 1978-1981.
Other stops along the way included assistant boys coach to Tom McGee at St. Pius X (1981-1990), eighth grade girls coach at St. Aloysius in Pottstown the next two years (winning the Region 23 championship and advancing to the Archdiocesan Tournament both times), girls assistant at St. Pius X (1992-1996), assistant women’s coach at Ursinus College (1996-1997), and assistant to Jan Fritz at Pottsgrove for six years before taking over as head coach.
He also had success as a girls AAU basketball coach, a girls softball coach , and as head girls soccer coach at Pottsgrove High School from 1996-2001, where he was voted Coach of the Year by coaches and the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000.
In basketball at Pottsgrove, he coached three 1,000-point scorers (Michelle Metz, Latiana Austin, Diana Randleman) along with an NCAA Division I player (Stephanie Schultz), three Division II players and numerous others who went on to play at Division III schools. He also taught mathematics at Norristown for 40 years.
“It starts as a gentleman and great for high school sports,”said DeRenzo. “He never lost perspective and he got the most out of his kids and he held them accountable. They had to be in class. They had to be in school. He changed the way he coached. He adapted every year. He was one of the best guys for scholastic sports you could ever meet. When he won the championship, I heard more coaches from around the league congratulate him.”
“At the end of the day when I say character, he was always doing the right thing, teaching life skills through scholastic athletics,” Anspach added.
Brendlinger has nothing but good things to say about his time at Pottsgrove.
“It’s just a great place to coach,” he said. “The kids were very good, co-operative, and worked hard. The parents were very good. The support from the AD’s was excellent. They were always behind you. Just a positive place to coach.”