Keith talks life lessons in banquet speech

ST. MARYS — Floyd Keith years ago found a good rule to live by posted near — of all things —  a livestock scale.

“Do right and fear no man”, a take on a 15th century English proverb is one of the abiding maxims of his life the standout athlete, coach and executive said on Saturday in a speech to a local booster group.

It's taken him a long way.

Keith, the first 1,000-yard rusher in St. Marys Memorial football history, a former college football coach and executive director of the Black Coaches and Administrators, spoke to the Roughrider Touchdown Club in the year old group’s first banquet at the St. Marys Eagles.

The Roughrider Touchdown Club began last football season and raises money to aide the program. Purchases this year include a trailer and mouthguards that help reduce concussions for players.

Keith, 63, spoke on the building blocks of success in football, business and life and shared some of his favorite memories from playing football at St. Marys under Skip Baughman. The link between all of his successes, he said, was doing right and controlling what he was able to control.

“If you treat people right and if you do right, you have no one to fear,” Keith said.

After playing football at Ohio Northern, Keith became a Division I assistant coach, a head coach at Howard and Rhode Island and 10 years ago became the executive director of what was then known as the Black Coaches Association. The group concentrates on getting more African-Americans hired in college and professional athletics and puts out a yearly report card on how open the hiring process is to minority coaches.

Getting to the truth in business often comes down to following the money trail, Keith said.  "You may not like the answer you'll get, but you'll get your answer," he said.

Keith said his successes on the field,  in business and in the coaching ranks comes down to simple perseverance.

“Be positive about everything you do,” Keith said. “I wasn’t a blessed athlete. I ran about a 4.6 and I was 150 pounds. Nobody thought I could be high jumper. But I held the school record for about 15 years. But I was an overachiever. I hated to lose and worked and gave 100 percent.”

He said winning football at St. Marys takes that sort of commitment.

“At St. Marys you’re not going to have great speed. You can work hard, execute and be committed. Those are things that made St. Marys strong. You’re grassroots people. That’s your culture. Don’t forget that. You have a reputation. Don’t lose that.”

Keith said he was going to try to make room in his schedule to show up for the opening Sidney game this season.

Keith urged patience as St. Marys football has hit a rough patch over the past three years, but that the commitment is there to build it back up.

“You love football,” Keith said to the group. “It’s in your veins.”