All the emotions woven into a 37-year Hall of Fame career at Dillard started trickling out with each step girls’ basketball coach Marcia Pinder took to the Signature Grand stage on Friday.
Pinder, a no-nonsense coach known for her poise and stoic presence on the sidelines, gave a rare glimpse of her soft side by accepting the Miami Herald’s Lifetime Achievement Award as tears rolled down her cheeks.
As Pinder paused to collect herself, an audience that included 20 Broward state team champions showered Pinder with a standing ovation at the Miami Herald Broward Athletic Awards.
“I was extremely surprised,” Pinder said. “I’m honored. Lifetime achievement, that says a lot. When you look around and get a standing ovation … That was the icing on the cake.”
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Pinder followed Dillard forward Briana Green, a Southern University signee, winning the Class 8A-5A Girls Player of the Year award by claiming her fifth consecutive 8A-5A Girls Coach of the Year award.
“This is the perfect morning,” Green said. “You have an aunt winning coach of the year and me winning player of the year. It’s always great to see one of your close family members win it. We represented Dillard real well [Friday]. I’m real proud.”
It’s only fitting that Pinder said listening to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, the Rocky III theme song, blare over the loudspeaker as she went to pick up the lifetime award ultimately pushed her to tears.
“Everything flashed before me,” Pinder said. “Winning state championships, and the girls running on the court. And the song that was playing. A lot of emotional stuff.”
Pinder’s pending induction into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, eight state titles and an 854-185 career mark, the most wins in Florida basketball history, was built on an unmatched competitive streak and work ethic.
Players who come into Pinder’s system soon learn that anything that might undermine team goals will not be tolerated.
“I coach because I love it,” Pinder said. “Just being firm and sticking to the plan and having set goals and not having anyone defer you from that. Just to see these young ladies go to school, that is the ultimate.”
Approaching the middle of her fifth decade of coaching, Pinder’s career appears to be gathering steam. The Panthers have won four state titles in the past five years and have a returning core that should put them in position to challenge for their ninth state title, which would tie them for No. 1 all-time and keep adding to Pinder’s legacy.
“My assistants backing me and getting these girls into college is what keeps me going,” Pinder said. “Once the girls come back and give back to the other girls, it just keeps going and going.”