Veteran coach Robert “Sam” Kromer, who turned out many outstanding teams and individuals during his career, called Al Hairston “one of the best to ever put on a Skipper uniform.”
Hairston, who played the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons, started a great winning tradition at Port Huron Junior College, leading the Skippers to a 21-1 season and a Michigan Community College Athletic Conference Championship. Hairston, who also played baseball at SC4, was an all-conference selection both years and scored a record 1,147 points during his career. He averaged 29.8 points per game during his sophomore year, which was fifth-best in the nation.
“Two of my most outstanding memories were how supportive and welcoming the City of Port Huron and Port Huron Junior College faculty and staff were to me,” Hairston said. “First time away from home in a new and somewhat strange environment (East Detroit to Port Huron) was somewhat stressful at times.
“Secondly, participating in one of the most challenging and competitive community college basketball programs in the country. PHJC gave me an opportunity to develop and test my skills, hoping that the opportunity would prepare me to be successful at the next level.”
Hairston moved on to Bowling Green State University, leading the Falcons to the Mid-American Conference title. He led the team in assists and played outstanding defense.
The 6-foot-1 guard was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the fifth round of the 1968 NBA draft and by the Kentucky Colonels in the 1968 ABA draft. Hairston appeared in two seasons for the Sonics.
Hairston remained in the Seattle area following his professional career. He is widely regarded as one of the best prep hoops coaches in Washington state history, Hairston achieved great success as head coach at Garfield High School in Seattle, including guiding the program to five state titles from 1980 through 1991 and two more state runner-up appearances during the same period.
Hairston, a member of the Port Huron Sports Hall of Fame, also served as head coach of the Seattle University men’s basketball team and was an assistant with the University of Washington.