The coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed the life or Orlando McDaniel, who was a valued member of the Texas track and field community and a Louisiana State University (LSU) alumnus.
McDaniel, the North Texas Cheetahs Elite (NTC Elite) head coach, passed away Friday night due to complications from COVID-19 at age 59.
The Dallas-Fort Wort-area based club coach was an involved member and mento in the lives of many youth athletes throughout his coaching career, assisting several athletes to athletic scholarships.
The Advocate, a newspaper based in Baton Rouge, reported that McDaniel had recently visited Washington, D.C., and had fallen ill shortly after returning home.
McDaniel was a successful two-sport athlete at LSU in his college days. He was a receiver on the football tam and standout hurdler on the track and field team. After leaving LSU, he was a second round NFL draft pick of the Denver Broncos. In high school, he was a standout athlete in Lake Charles, Louisiana. According to the Advocate, he ran the 120 yard hurdles in 13.5 seconds in 1977.
Personally, this is a heartbreaking situation.
McDaniel and I first met in 2007 at a youth track and field meet. We met again in 2017, when I became the lead writer for MileSplit's Texas site.
The basis of our relationship started out kind of rocky in 2017. Initially, I made the mistake of exchanging phone numbers with him and he took advantage of that. That was the start of many disagreements between us, but surprisingly, it was also the beginning of a friendship.
He would text me about things going on in the Dallas area and how I needed to visit the DFW more often to cover the athletes. Often times, he would of course let me know more of what he thought.
McDaniel loved the sport that I love and that led to our undeniable common ground.
He would begin to text just to say, "What's up brother." That led to us even talking and texting about things outside of the sport. Over the last part of 2019, we texted about the LSU football season and joked about him retiring and coming to contribute for MileSplit. At meets, we would converse and always end conversations with a respectful and genuine dap.
The world is different today than it was three weeks ago with a lot of uncertainties. One thing that was evident about McDaniel was his love for the youth, the sport, and the success of them both. Track and field lost an advocate, coach, mentor, leader, and key contributor to the track and field community.