Orton, Thunder Teammates Visit Rosary School

Not many middle schools in the country can boast that they produced an NBA player. Even fewer can say that their player went on to play for their hometown NBA team.

On Tuesday, the Rosary School in Oklahoma City welcomed Thunder forward Daniel Orton back within the school doors for a very special Thunder Fit Clinic, presented by Homeland. Orton, who spent his sixth, seventh and eighth grade years playing on Rosary’s basketball teams, got to see an old class photo, basketball trophies and his former teachers while visiting with the current students.

“It brought back a lot of memories,” Orton said. “It’s good to come back. As a kid, when I was here, we didn’t have an NBA program. You saw guys like us on television, but to see them in real life, (would have been) something special. It gives kids something to dream for. Whether it is the NBA, a doctor, a lawyer or whatever, it gives the kids something to dream for and go home and talk to their parents about.”

Orton was joined in the Fit Clinic by teammates Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and DeAndre Liggins, and all four took part in the multiple stations set up to help the students learn about proper health, fitness and of course, basketball. Lamb studied over the nutrition station with the students while Jones hosted his seemingly customary two-on-one basketball session. Orton and Liggins led layup lines and worked with kids in the exercise station. Throughout the afternoon, the Rosary School students came away with important lessons that could go far at the middle school level.

“It’s just great (for them) to learn small things,” Orton said. “If they don’t learn but two things today here, that’s huge and we did our job.”

Karen Lynn, the school principal, said her sixth, seventh and eighth graders were treated to a surprise when the Thunder players walked in with the extra special treat being that one of their own alumnae was in the group. Orton visited with his former teachers who were so thankful that Orton can serve as a role model to future Rosary School generations.

“The teachers are excited because Daniel Orton was in their class, sixth, seventh and eighth, so they’re having a great time,” Lynn said. “They’re very proud of him. Everyone loves the Thunder so much. We’re so excited that the team is here in Oklahoma. Just to have one of our own players to even to be able to reach that level in life is just such a wonderful example for the students to know that they can dream and they can work for it.”

The Rosary School began operating in 1927 and in 1944 in its current building. It is the only Catholic school in Oklahoma City to win the National Blue Ribbon Award, and the school serves as a feeder to Bishop McGuinness, where Orton went to high school. That connection means that the people Orton became close with during his years at Rosary continued to be a part of his life – even his teachers who helped mold him as early as middle school.

“Going here, it’s a good school, (it was) a great learning experience for me,” Orton said. “The friends that I made here are like family to me. It’s a one-of-a-kind school. (The teachers) love me and I love them also. We had a great relationship when I was here.”

Fit Clinics like the one at the Rosary School are one of the many ways the Thunder likes to give back throughout the season. Particularly during the next month, through the Thunder’s Holiday Assist program, the organization will be making an extra effort to get out into the Oklahoma City community. For the Thunder players and coaching staff, the Oklahomans who have embraced the organization for the last five years are extremely important, especially to an Oklahoma City native like Orton.

“I feel like Oklahoma, the community itself and the people, the way they are, they deserve everything,” Orton said. “It’s a huge part of giving back to Oklahoma City itself. The way the Thunder has come in here, the fans have really adopted them and clung to them. They consider the Thunder a huge representation of Oklahoma itself.”