The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit close to home for the Dallas-area track and field community.
The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reported that Orlando McDaniel died from COVID-19 on Friday night at the age of 59. McDaniel was the executive director and founder of the North Texas Cheetahs girls track club and coached many of the area’s top athletes during summer and indoor track.
“Orlando was a tireless worker for the youth in his area of D-FW,” LSU track coach Dennis Shaver told The Advocate. “His youth North Texas Cheetahs Track Club, year after year, developed many of the great athletes competing for universities throughout the United States.”
Shaver told The Advocate that McDaniel had recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and fell ill after returning home.
Former 100-meter world record holder Leroy Burrell posted his condolences on Twitter. Burrell won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay in 1992 and is now the head coach at Houston.
Former Mansfield Lake Ridge triple jump and long jump star Jasmine Moore, a nine-time state champion, competed for the Cheetahs from fifth grade all the way through high school. Moore, a freshman at Georgia who is one of three finalists for the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, shared her grief on Twitter:
“RIP to someone who believed in me so much. Thank you for everything, I am truly grateful for everything you’ve done for me. miss you already” #StayAtHome”
McDaniel competed in track and football at LSU and was the national runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles in 1980. He played briefly in the NFL as a wide receiver, getting drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos in 1982 and playing in three games for the team that season.
DeSoto ranks No. 1 in the nation in the 4x100 relay (45.16) and 4x200 relay (1:36.91) this season, according to DyeStat.com. Three members of the 4x100 team (Jalaysi’ya Smith, Ja’Era Griffin and Arkansas signee Jayla Hollis) and three members of the 4x200 team (Griffin, Hollis and Mia Abraham) have run for the Cheetahs.
So have Wylie East’s Destini Jeter (2019 Class 5A state champion in the 300 hurdles), Duncanville’s Dy’Mond Wiley (ranks fifth in the state in the 400), former Duncanville star Arius Williams (2019 6A state runner-up in 400), former DeSoto star Rosaline Effiong (2019 6A state runner-up in 200) and Mississippi second-team All-American Kelly Rowe from Mansfield Lake Ridge.