Sep. 14—RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky lost a football legend Tuesday with the passing of Roy Kidd.
The 91-year-old Corbin native led EKU to two NCAA Division I-AA football championships in a Hall of Fame career.
Those who knew Kidd personally knew he was a gentleman and all business when it came to sports. The public, especially Corbin Redhound football fans and Eastern Kentucky University fans, knew Kidd for the legendary path he laid from the time he stepped on the football field as a left-handed quarterback that would go on as a head coach to win two national football titles and 315 games over 39 years at EKU.
He actually received a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky and then-head coach Bear Bryant, but turned it down due to wanting to play baseball as well, with Eastern willing to let him play both. Before becoming an assistant at Eastern, coach Kidd was an assistant coach at Morehead State for one year.
Kidd retired as the sixth winningest coach in FBS or FCS history with 16 OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) titles, 17 FCS playoff appearances and a 10-time OVC Coach of the Year. The OVC Coach of the Year Award now bears his name as well. He won two NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year awards and coached 55 All-Americans during his time as head coach, with 41 of his players ended up signing NFL contracts. Just this year, he won the AFCA's Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, which honors those who have made a significant impact to the game of football.
EKU named their football stadium after him, with the street in front of the stadium named Roy and Sue Kidd Way. A statue of the coach is located in the north endzone of the stadium. Kidd is also the namesake for Roy Kidd Avenue in downtown Corbin.
Coach Kidd is also in the College Football Hall of Fame, the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, the OVC Hall of Fame and the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame. The KHSAA's highest football award given annually to the state's best player is named the Roy Kidd Award.
He was not only known in his Corbin home community and Richmond for his career. At 91 years old, he made an impact with people throughout his life's journey.
Paul Jones, a 100-year-old close friend of Kidd, reflected back nearly 80 years when he and Kidd played baseball together for the Corbin town team before any schools in the area had a team.
"I could tell he was a natural athlete before high school playing baseball with him," Jones said. "It didn't take long for the Redhounds to hone in on his talent. There was no looking back for my left-handed friend."
Kidd played basketball, baseball and football for Corbin from 1946-1950.
"I am so glad I got to visit with him about a year ago before he became too ill to do so," Jones said. "We talked about all the games I flew to in my personal airplane with his brother so we could watch his legendary football career after I retired from being a pilot for the Navy."
Jones said he wasn't an emotional fellow, but he sure was proud when Kidd won the national titles.
"He was almost a perfect gentleman," Jones said. "He was a perfect example of a great human being."
Jones wasn't the only person who thought this of Kidd.
Ralph A. Coldiron reflected on the impact Kidd left on him as his coach and later mentor as a graduate assistant coach for a year.
"I played for Coach Kidd from '70 to '75, and was a graduate assistant coach for a year, and a full-time coach for a year. In those seven years with Coach Kidd, he taught me so much! Winning was the foundation of our team. I am who I am today because Coach Kidd took me under his wing and helped me become a good Colonel and a contributor to my family and friends," Coldiron said.
Shawn Allen Sinkhorn worked as Kidd's equipment manager from 1999-2000.
"I learned a lot of football from him but more importantly, I learned a lot more about life," Sinkhorn said.
Sinkhorn had to leave college due to taking care of an ill loved one but kept up with Kidd over the years. It was at a signing he had at Raising Canes she visited him and he remembered her. He met her daughter and was proud of her but asked if she had finished her degree yet.
"I told him, 'no sir I have not finished my degree yet' and he looked disappointed when I told him that, and he said 'you need to go back and get it,'" Sinkhorn said. "I never wanted to disappoint Coach. About five years ago, I started my graphic design and web development degree and I graduated three years ago with my degree and graduated top of my class."
Sinkhorn saw Kidd at a basketball game last year and showed him a picture of her graduation.
"He always believed in me and I thanked him for all he did for me. His smile was so big," Sinkhorn said. "Because of my determination and Coach's encouragement, I finally felt accomplished and educated."
Kidd might have been all business but those around him found humor in the way he carried himself.
Ashley Martin King, a Marching Colonels Feature Twirler from 2000 to 2004, noted,
"Coach Kidd fussed at me for making a hole in the grass on the field and I was just happy he knew who I was."
Kidd taught football coaching classes and Kurt Nethington will never forget the 1983 class he took with him.
"I drove down to Wichita Falls, Texas, in December '82 to watch the Colonels beat Delaware State for the national championship," Nethington recalled.
In the early 1990s, Nethington ran into Kidd at an airport and the coach fussed at him for not having a EKU shirt on.
"He asked me where my EKU sweatshirt was. I forgot I was wearing a UK sweatshirt at the time! I was so embarrassed. We had a good laugh with that. What a great man and a huge loss for the Colonel community," Nethington said. "Next time I see him, I will be wearing an EKU shirt."
Tim Johnson attended EKU and found some humor in Kidd's coaching style.
"I heard a story, back in the early '80s after a loss to Dayton, he had the buses pull over on 75 and made the players run behind the buses," Johnson said.
Shalanda Jones has heard much about Kidd from her mother.
"Coach Kidd was my mother's Geography teacher at Madison High School in Richmond. She said that she never learned Geography but she learned all about football and ended up babysitting for him and Ms. Sue," Jones shared.
Joe Mauntel played football for Kidd from 1981 to 1985.
"Every time I see my former teammates, it is suggested that we somehow collaboratively write a book containing "Roy stories" and memorable quotes," Mauntel said. "He was the most genuine man I have ever met."
Vickey Duvall was on the EKU dance team in 1978.
"After practice at the football field, I was walking home in the cold drizzle. He was leaving at the same time and in his friendly protective way, he kinda just walked along with me to my dorm room at Martin Hall so I wouldn't make that journey alone late at night. He was a naturally kind, engaging man who garnered respect just by being himself," Duvall said.
Jennifer James Reichard played volleyball for the Colonels from 1988 to 1993. She was far from home as a freshman and was extremely nervous as she tackled navigating college life without knowing anyone, Kidd made her feel at home and promised to come see one of her matches before she graduated.
Her senior night, Kidd showed up to her match.
"After we won, he shook my hand and said, 'I told you I'd see a match before you were done!' It meant the world to me," Reichard said. "In 2014, I was voted into the EKU hall of fame. When I walked up to give my speech, I noticed Coach Kidd in the audience. I had to mention that story in my speech when I saw him! He was such a selfless, important figure not only to his football players, but all student athletes he came across. I'm so lucky I had the opportunity to know him."
Mickey Kamer was the Colonel mascot from 1986 to 1989.
"Coach Kidd and his wife Sue went out of their way to get to know me on and off the field. He was such a great mentor to all that met him," Kamer said.
These memories prove that the impact Kidd had on people will keep his legacy alive not just through his famous football career but the love he had for people.
Services for Coach Kidd will be at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Center for the Arts.