- Associated Press - Monday, November 24, 2014

ENID, Okla. (AP) - Shortly after Dr. Darrell Floyd started his new position in June as Enid Public Schools’ superintendent, he took a tour of the football facilities at the Irv Honigsberg Fieldhouse, next door to D. Bruce Selby Stadium, the home of the Enid Plainsmen.

Having come from football-mad Stephenville, Texas, where he was superintendent for 14 years, Floyd likely was expecting to see something comparable to what was the norm in Texas. Instead, he saw something quite different.

“I was shocked really,” he told the Enid News and Eagle (https://bit.ly/1HgYvTE ), recalling his first visit to the facility. “I walked in there to find that the weight room and dressing room is one and the same. I mean, small schools don’t have that, much less a 6A program.”

That’s just one of the areas Floyd would like to see eventually improved, starting with a strategic planning process in January to begin addressing such matters, but first, there is another pressing issue.

Earlier this month, following the final game of the season, Enid head football coach Steve Chard resigned after a 4-6 season, following back-to-back 3-7 campaigns, citing family concerns. It was a decision that, while somewhat surprising, Floyd said was not a complete shock.

“I could kind of see that might be happening down the road,” Floyd said. “It’s a tough gig being the head football coach.”

“They spend jillions of hours up there and away from their family and all. It’s hard. Steve is a good man and worked very hard.”

Chard’s resignation though provides Floyd an early opportunity to put his stamp on the athletic program through its most visible sport and highest profile position. And make no mistake, Floyd will be at the forefront of the process.

He follows athletics intensely, and in addition to attending the home football games, also traveled for the preseason scrimmages. And if he missed an away game, such as Enid’s last-minute 41-38 Week 4 loss to Choctaw, he was not bashful about picking up the phone and asking the coach about passing with 11 seconds left - a decision that led to an interception in the end zone - instead of going for the tying field goal.

He also can recall vividly the play that cost Stephenville (which has won five state championships) a shot at a state title in 2005, ironically also an intercepted pass, against Highland Park in the semifinals.

Floyd is used to athletic success and that is a particular feature he is looking for in whoever may be the next head football coach at Enid, a position that officially was posted this month.

“Success breeds success,” he said. “I’d like to have somebody that has some skins (championships) on the wall. It would be nice if they had some state championships on their resume, not that that’s a minimum qualification, but it would certainly be nice.”

He also said he is looking for somebody that can bring “instant credibility to the position and be ready to build a program that builds on success,” but quickly adds “not that all the coaches that have come before haven’t tried to do that, I think they have.

“I think there’s a lot of support in the community in general, and for football … I think the community is ready to rally around and support the new person that comes in if we can find the right person, and that’s obviously what we are going to try to do.”

Floyd said he already has started making calls and is using his connections in Texas, as well as being open to candidates closer to home that may fit the bill.

It may be difficult to match the exact lineage of coaches that have gone through the Stephenville program, most notably current Baylor head coach Art Briles, who was the head coach of the Yellowjackets for 12 years, winning four state titles, leaving shortly after Floyd’s arrival, as Briles was making his move up the coaching ranks, thanks to a little something called the spread offense. But Floyd sees similarities between Enid today and Stephenville then.

“He (Briles) came into a program (in 1988) that was not vastly different than this program … but what he brought was a sense of not settling for anything less than excellence in any given area,” Floyd said.

Floyd’s subsequent hires weren’t too shabby either, with Chad Morris going on to become the highest paid assistant coach in college football as the current offensive coordinator at Clemson, while current Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie has compiled a 63-19 record since 2008 and winning the 2012 state championship (a souvenir football from that season currently sits in Floyd’s office, along with press clippings adorning the wall).

It also was a team that included Floyd’s son Tyler at linebacker, now a junior at Texas Tech (the senior Floyd’s alma mater) and the catcher for the Red Raiders’ baseball team with a College World Series ring to show for his efforts. Floyd’s daughter, Brittany, currently is a sophomore at Texas Tech.

While Floyd comes to Enid from a community that has experienced recent football success that has gripped the folks in Stephenville - he relates his son wanted to be a Yellowjacket since his earliest days due to the team’s success - that hasn’t been the case over the last several years in Enid.

The Enid football team has not experienced a winning season since 2010 and over the past year, Enid’s highest profile athletic teams have not distinguished themselves either, with the boys basketball team going 2-22 last year, the baseball team was 11-26 and the girls softball team went 10-29, setting a mark for most losses ever in a season. There were some bright spots with the girls basketball team going 18-6 and the soccer teams did well, with the girls going 10-5 and making the playoffs, and the boys finishing 7-6.

And with the lack of success, has come a drop-off in in interest and attendance at games, but it’s something Floyd, who has immersed himself in the community since arriving in June, joining such organizations as the Rotary Club, AMBUCS and others that have given him a pulse on the community - says can be fixed.

He believes Enid, which is growing at a rate that is making it the fastest-growing school district in the state, wants to embrace EHS athletics.

“Once you start having a little success, it doesn’t matter what program, it could be band or choir, people want to come and be involved in that successful program and your numbers start to grow and builds on itself,” he said.

While winning in athletics is key, he said it begins with coaching.

“You start by filling vacancies with the best people that you can get,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to do with the football coach.”

He points to the hiring of Jennifer Burch, his first coaching hire, as the girls basketball coach as she takes over for Robb Mills, who moved on to an administrative position. Burch comes to Enid from Bishop McGuinness, where she won a 5A state title.

Floyd said he met with all of the coaches, and early on shared with them his three “non-negotiables” that he lives by (and are printed on the back of a bio sheet he provides): 1) Always keep the kids’ best interest at heart; 2) Be professional at all times and 3) When problems arise, follow the chain of command in solving them.

Floyd, who earned his doctorate from Texas A&M-Commerce;, and whose wife of 25 years, Cheryl, currently is the superintendent of schools in Huckabay, Texas, (she plans to move to Enid when her current contract expires shortly), sees athletics and education as interwoven fabrics.

“I’m a big sports fan in relation to public education, because I know the benefit that it has for students and that’s why we have extracurricular activities at all is to provide opportunities to provide students to be successful in the areas they are interested in,” Floyd said.

However, that also means providing the best facilities possible, which comes back to Floyd’s strategic plan initiative, something he considers the district’s roadmap to the future.

“It’s a very comprehensive strategic planning process,” Floyd said. “We’ll spend most of the spring semester developing that. People across the community will have opportunities to provide input, and everything will be on the table for discussion. The ultimate goal is to start with broad ideas and get a design team to take all those ideas and narrow it down to a few broad areas that the whole group can come to consensus on, and agree on, and the Board will be presented with that at the May Board of Education meeting to hopefully approve.”

Upgrading facilities commensurate with accommodating a burgeoning district student population, one whose growth has already reached numbers that originally weren’t projected to be reached until 2018, is expected to be a high priority.

“The facilities we have in football do not necessarily reflect a significantly growing 6A school district,” Floyd said. “If you walk into that dressing room/weight room and then compare it to other 6A programs in the state, there is no comparison, and I think to some extent it is not providing what we need to provide our kids with. When you get to the point of accepting that, then you are accepting mediocrity and I think that’s not what our school district should be about.”

In addition, Enid’s basketball and volleyball teams do not have their own floor, and while Floyd acknowledges cooperation with Enid Event Center, he also knows the facility needs to keep itself financially viable.

“The Event Center is really there to make money on events, and every time we use their floor is a time they’re not having it available for events,” Floyd said. “But obviously we have a good working relationship with them and we want to use that floor as much as we can, but if they bring in some big singer, then we’re going to be moved out to do something else. So, there’s an argument for having our own floor somewhere else . I anticipate those topics will come up in the strategic planning process when we get to the facilities part as well.”

He also envisions a fine arts center as part of the plan.

“I have seen successfully constructed areas that are combination performing arts and athletic facilities that are highly successful,” he said. “Some people put them in the end zones in football stadiums, and have areas for fine arts and a basketball arena, an indoor football facility and things like that. Of course, you can get way grandiose and so expensive that you can’t afford it, but you have to figure out what you can afford and get it done.”

Floyd said he hopes to convey to Enid sports fans they have a school superintendent that understands the value of extracurricular activities.

“I am going to attempt to put the right amount of focus and attention, including time, effort, energy and money, into improving those programs to the extent I can for students,” he said. “But I can’t do that by myself without input and support from the community.”

___

Information from: Enid News & Eagle, https://www.enidnews.com


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