Twenty one state track and field championships.
That’s the level of success that Charlie Floyd managed to attain during his 35 years in public education.
To celebrate that success, a group of his former athletes organized an event in August at Southwest Mississippi Community College to honor the legendary coach.
“A group of us got together to honor coach Floyd for all he’s done, not just in athletics, but he meant so much for so many of us,” said Gloster Mayor Jerry Norwood. “I was recently elected mayor of Gloster and if you trace the roots, you can take all of that back to coach Floyd. We really wanted to show him how much we appreciate him for what he’s done for the community and the kids over the years.”
As a continuation of the August event, the group decided to hold a smaller event to present a gift to the long-time coach commemorating his success in the sport.
Norwood said he ran for Floyd for four years in high school and also coached with him for 10 years.
He said the coach pumped the team up with an attitude that helped them accomplish great things.
“It was joy for a small school from Gloster, Mississippi,” Norwood recalled. “When we would get to these big venues and we would whup some of these bigger schools, you just don’t know the feeling we’d have. That’s all because of coach Floyd. He coached 24-7, 365 days a year and we have to take our hat off to his wife.”
Victory Montgomery, who coaches the Southwest Mississippi Roadrunners with Floyd, said he owes a lot to his former coach.
“I’ve been in the Army for 25 years and I have my bachelor’s degree,” Montgomery said. “Basically I owe all of that to coach Floyd for what he instilled in us.
“I turned down a scholarship to go to college, so he came to my parents and asked, ‘Are you sure you want to do that,’ ” Montgomery recalled. “I was like, ‘Yes coach, I’ve always wanted to be in the military,’ and he didn’t really judge me on that.”
Despite all of the winning, it’s the success of the athletes outside of the track that the coach is most happy with.
“It’s not about championships and I feel so good today to see so many of my athletes successful,” Floyd said. “I have mayors, retirees, great coaches.
“I want to thank my wife for putting up with me,” Floyd continued with a smile. “I’m so elated about this. I have my flowers, before I was stretched out.”
Kristie Robinson, who also coaches with the Roadrunners, recalled her time as an athlete under Floyd.
“Looking back on it, it’s just life-changing,” she said. “He’s one of those people you can’t forget. He won’t let you forget him. He makes a great impact on everybody that he knows.”
Etta Batteaste-Taplin has fond memories of Floyd the track coach, but also memories of him as a passenger as she joked that she chauffered him around for a while.
“He made me drive everywhere,” she said with a chuckle. “I thought he didn’t know how to drive. He was the driver’s ed teacher as well and I swear coach Floyd never drove anywhere.”
Aside for the jokes about driving, Batteaste-Taplin said the coach never wavered in treating each athlete fairly.
“Strong dedication, strong sense of family and every child he treats as his own,” she said. “He doesn’t separate children. It doesn’t matter what background you come from, he treats everybody the same with the same level of respect and he expects us to give that back to society.”
Floyd is a track purist and he said he believes track needs to be more of a focus in the state of Mississippi, because he said he feels like it isn’t anymore.
“It was just a great ride,” he said. “We had a lot of coaches back then who loved it and I have a lot of young men and women that I coach now that love it and they’ll carry my legacy on for many years. My legacy will live forever.”