Johnny Orr to serve as grand marshal at VEISHEA Parade

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

 Johnny Orr, the winningest men’s basketball coach in Iowa State‘s history, will be the grand marshal for the VEISHEA 2011 Parade.

“A Grand Marshal is kind of the face of any given parade,” said Wes Strohbehn, junior in agricultural studies and parade chairman. “They’re the person we honor, and we would like to recognize for any sort of award or for any sort of achievement.”

When choosing a grand marshal, the committee looked for three things: Someone who is recognizable by both current students and alumni, someone who made an impact on Iowa State and someone who has a good reputation and reflects well on Iowa State.

The committee ultimately decided upon Orr. Orr was the basketball coach for the men’s basketball team from 1980 to 1994. During his time as coach, he led the team to 218 wins and 200 losses.

“[Orr is] often regarded as the best coach in [ISU] men’s basketball history,” Strohbehn said. “He’s kind of recognized as the person who started ‘Hilton Magic.'”

“Hilton Magic” was coined by a journalist after Orr led the Cyclones to a victory over the third-ranked Missouri in 1989. The headline read, “Hilton Magic Spells ‘Upset’ One More Time.” In his career, Orr was helped many times by Hilton Magic.

In his fifth season as coach, Orr led Iowa State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance. He coached the team to a total of six NCAA Tournaments in his 14 years at Iowa State. In 1986, Iowa State beat the fifth ranked Michigan team and moved onto the Sweet 16.

“Another reason why we thought [Orr] would be a good fit for this year is because ‘Johnny’s’ at Hilton was also opened this year,” Strohbehn said.

“Johnny’s”, a sports bar-themed gathering area for donors, is located on Hilton’s east side where the coaches’ offices for the men’s and women’s basketball teams used to be. The area holds up to 500 people and the flooring is game floor from State Gym. There is also a trophy case with memorabilia from Orr’s career and a statue of Orr.

“[‘Johnny’s’ opening] kind of fit hand in hand in honoring him as the grand marshal,” Strohbehn said.

As the grand marshal, Orr may make a few remarks at the opening and closing ceremonies. Ultimately though, the main point of recognizing Orr as the grand marshal is to honor him for his contributions to Iowa State.

“It was just one of the things we did to recognize [Orr] as an excellent coach and an outstanding member of the [ISU] community.”

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on April 5, 2011)

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