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Over the course of six years, it never changed. Whenever I talked to Lewisville coach/athletics director Floyd Drum, he always ended the conversation the same way.
“Thanks for what you do for our kids.”
All of his e-mails, letters and faxes to me were punctuated the same way.
Of course, covering the achievements of Lewisville’s student-athletes is part of my job, but I think Drum just appreciates anybody who he thinks has the best interest of kids at heart, because he always has.
Drum is no longer affiliated with Lewisville High School or the Chester County School District. He received a letter two weeks ago informing him that he was one of several working retirees who were being let go in a cost-cutting move.
Not having Drum around will be a real loss for a lot of kids, but imagine how many students almost missed the opportunity to benefit from his guidance and advice. In 1987, Drum was ready to give up coaching to focus solely on teaching. He was talked out of retiring from coaching by his friend Bennie McMurray, who convinced him to come to Lewisville and be his offensive line coach.
Drum said he was serious about getting out of coaching, though I doubt McMurray, who is now head football coach at Lancaster High School, really had to do much arm-twisting to get him to Lewisville. Drum likes being a role model and mentor and one of the most direct ways for a person to do that is to coach.
McMurray was succeeded as head football coach by Kim Gray. When Gray announced he was leaving the school in the spring of 2004, Drum was asked to assume the head football coaching duties. He said at the time he was a stopgap, that he would only be in the position for one year.
He said privately that he’d probably be replaced the next year by someone who would also take his athletics director slot. He didn’t mind taking one for the team, though. He said he loved Lewisville and would do whatever was asked of him for however long he remained at the school.
When the football season ended, Drum was excited. He felt like the team he had returning had a chance to be special. Maybe he could stick around for one more year, he said.
The 2005 Lions were special, making it to the third round of the playoffs. Drum would coach the team for three more years. In his five-year tenure, Drum won three region titles and advanced to the playoffs each season.
His won-loss record was impressive, but it was eclipsed by the work he did away from the field. Everybody sees the football team on Friday nights, but not everyone sees Drum cutting grass or lining off fields or working hard to try to find his players college scholarships.
They probably didn’t see him write grant applications to pay for the new training room either, but he did, helping give Lewisville a facility that is the envy of most small schools. They didn’t see him take any student who wanted to go to Sunday worship services either.
Drum could have opted to leave when he received his letter, but he wanted to work out his final two weeks to make sure all the spring athletes had their eligibilities in order.
He was a father-figure to lots of young men and women who really needed one. Whatever Lewisville’s student-athletes needed, he tried to provide.
The sad thing is that losing Drum also means losing his wife, Sandra. The two of them raised thousands of dollars for the school’s booster club. They fed football players during pre-season camp, often with food prepared on their own stove and grill. That included feeding opposing teams when hosting scrimmages.
Drum is obviously respected by his peers, too, as evidenced by his being named as a coach to both the North-South All-Star game and the Shrine Bowl.
Drum coached basketball and softball in his 22 years at Lewisville in addition to his football coaching duties. As athletics director he was nearly at every Lewisville home game in every sport.
He even played the part of emcee at halftime of basketball games when cheerleaders gave fans the chance to win a 2-liter drink by hitting a three-pointer. Each attempt cost a dollar.
“Son, that was a waste of a dollar,” he’d tease when someone put up an air ball.
Drum’s last day in the office was last week. He turned everything that needed to be turned in Thursday so as not to cause a scene or upset any students on Friday. He went out quiet and classy just like he came in.
What can you say to a person (and an entire family really) who have given so much of themselves for so long, other than “thanks for what you do for our kids.”
Travis Jenkins is sports
editor for Chester News & Reporter, a sister paper to The Lancaster News.