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Bellingham Bulletin

Where Are They Now: Don Floyd a Dynamic Force in Bellingham Youth Sports

May 31, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Don Floyd

written by KEN HAMWEY Bulletin Sports Editor

Donald Floyd moved to Bellingham 38 years ago, in 1981, and it was love at first sight. His affection for his community was demonstrated in a variety of ways and his volunteering became his calling card.

Floyd played an integral role in Pop Warner football for 14 years, was a coach in Little League baseball and youth basketball, served as a Parks Commissioner for 20 years and was part of a cable TV call-in sports show. His work with youths, however, is where he excelled and it’s estimated that at least 150 boys that he coached in Pop Warner football later played for Bellingham High’s varsity squads.

What made Floyd tick was his penchant to help people, whether young or old. One sentence puts an exclamation point on his inner drive to make a difference in a person’s life. “I couldn’t wait to get out of work and step onto a football field,” he said. His desire to elevate his community was evident in the effective way he served as a Parks Commissioner, always striving to maintain fields and keeping the lawns impeccable at the town’s cemeteries.
Floyd’s journey to Bellingham started in North Carolina and involved stops in New Bedford and Milford.

The 71-year-old Floyd is a native of Badin, NC. He played a year of football at West Badin High and ran track for one year at North Stanley High in New London, NC, where he graduated in 1966. He played center in football at 5-5 and 120 pounds.

“After graduation, I enlisted in the Army and served in artillery as a computer operator on the Nike and Hercules missile systems,” he noted. “I was discharged in 1971 after four years.”
Interested in a college education, Floyd took advice from an uncle who lived in New Bedford and enrolled at Southeastern Mass. University (now UMass-Dartmouth). After four years, Floyd had a degree in business management. Married in 1974, he and his wife, Marilyn, resided in New Bedford, where he worked in management for Papa Gino’s. They eventually moved to Milford then settled in Bellingham.

“I played in an over-30 softball league during my first year in Bellingham,” Floyd recalled. “I did that for 15 years; but in that first year I also started as an assistant coach in Pop Warner football. Jerry Lynch asked me if I knew football and if I’d like to coach with him. I was his assistant for seven years, then became a head coach for the next eight seasons. My two boys, Derrick and Marcus, both played Pop Warner football.”

Fourteen years of coaching youths was like hitting the lottery for Floyd. He was immersed in the Pop Warner program and it was a labor of love.

“It was enjoyable and rewarding,” he said. “The program helped kids decide if they liked football. I had players who weren’t so good because they lacked interest, and I had some kids who were very good because they were motivated. Watching my boys play was a thrill, and they both eventually got rings as Super Bowl competitors. Derrick played for BHS on the 1993 team and Marcus was on the 1998 squad.”

A fundraising event for Pop Warner football in 1988 is very telling about Floyd’s persevering and dedicated nature. The organization was in debt and needed to raise money to pay bills and keep the program afloat. “We decided on conducting a toll-road fundraiser,” Floyd recalled. “The kids couldn’t get involved at intersections, so the adults did, asking motorists and passers-by for help to keep Pop Warner football alive. We started at 8 am on a cold November morning. People were extremely generous, and I kept warm by drinking hot chocolate and coffee. I wanted to call it a day around 4 pm, but Linda Clancy insisted that we stay because money was still coming in. We kept going until 6:30 pm and collected $7,000. We paid off all of the organization’s debt.”

Floyd was just as energetic about youth baseball and basketball. He attended a clinic led by BHS basketball coach Dave Gibbs to see if he could improve his coaching skills. “The session was good because I learned an approach that focused on coaching young kids who were just starting out in sports,” he said.

Floyd was even bitten by the field-hockey bug. His wife had played and liked watching high-school games. “I asked her about the game and how it was played,” he noted. “We went to games and were so pleased when Bellingham won three State championships.”

As a Parks Commissioner, Floyd’s priority was to “maintain and beautify” the town’s property. He strived to keep places like Silver Lake, Arcand Park, North Field and Richardson Field looking their best. “I always liked opening day for baseball and softball and seeing the kids play,” he said.

Another volunteer venture was the “U Call It Sports” show that Floyd produced for the local cable channel. “I did that for eight years and it was a lot of fun,” he said. “We mostly addressed local sports. Kevin Grupposo hosted it and once in a while I’d go on camera.”
Now retired, Floyd worked for a variety of firms that were enriched by his willingness to improve them and his management style. Several of the companies were Honeywell Corporation, Prime Computer, Stratus Corp., Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Natick Labs.

As a management major Floyd flourished, but he also had a natural sense for how to manage youths in athletics. The life lessons he taught later became valuable tools as those youths entered the working world. “I tried to teach kids to trust each other as teammates,” he said. “Sports teach kids to have faith and trust in others. I also stressed that, if you fail, start over and try again.”
   
Donald Floyd was a gem of a coach. For those who may not know him well, just consider how fortunate Bellingham has been because of his style of teaching and instructing. He never hesitated to roll up his sleeves and go to work, but he preferred and insisted on laboring in the background and out of the limelight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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