Philip Russell, who coached the Ogden High girls' basketball team to five state championships in a career that spanned more than four decades, died Tuesday from complications due to COVID-19. He was 75.
Mike Russell, Philip’s son, broke the news on his Facebook page, writing that his father died peacefully in the afternoon. Russell’s family was not able to visit his room in the hospital during his ordeal.
“My family dejectedly had to watch most of this fight from a hospital window, as our dad lay there alone for the last five weeks,” Mike Russell wrote. “So it brings us great comfort to know that this fight is over and that he’s no longer in pain.”
Nearly 900 people responded to Mike Russell’s post, all with words of encouragement and expressions of remorse, gratitude and love.
“My sweet mom [Phil’s wife of 53 years], my brother and his family and of course me and my family, have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and prayers on behalf of my dad and our family,” Mike Russell wrote. “We have found great strength in each of you and thank you for your love, kindness and many prayers.”
Russell started coaching the Ogden girls in 1973 despite never having coached basketball or girls before. He led the Tigers to state titles in 1979, 1985, 1988, 1994 and 1996. Ogden also won 10 region championships under his tutelage.
Russell retired in 2013 as the winning coach at the same school with 500 wins. He’s second all-time in wins in state history.
Russell is survived by his his wife, Carolyn, and his sons, Mike and Matt.