Time flies when you’re having fun.
That’s why it felt like it was only yesterday to Binky Waldrop when he was handed the reins of the Charlotte High football program. The distance between Sept. 3, 1999 and Saturday afternoon spans more than two decades, but as Waldrop stood at the podium and spoke of the career that landed him in the FACA Hall of Fame, his head spun.
“Today was really cool,” Waldrop said. “I don’t really have a lot of words to describe it. I don’t think it has fully sunk in what happened today. It’s a big deal and I’m proud of it.”
Waldrop is the first Charlotte County coach to be inducted in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s hallowed company. He was part of a six-member class that also included Bryan Baucom (St. Thomas Aquinas softball), Dwayne Donnell (girls basketball), Carlos Giron (Aquinas girls soccer), Dan Marsee (Suwannee weightlifting) and John Walsh (Aquinas boys soccer).
According to FACA officials, Waldrop’s 50-person entourage was the largest group ever to show to support a single inductee. The event took place at the Hilton Oceanwalk Resort in Daytona Beach.
Having so many people on hand sort of played into Waldrop’s belief for how he came to be so honored.
“This is an award that I share with an awful lot of people,” Waldrop said. “I’ve been blessed, always. Obviously, I’ve had great coaches. They’ve made it easy to be up there on that podium today. Everybody that was here today, they’re the reason what I’ve done seems kind of easy.”
Waldrop pointed to Larry Marsh and Tom Mut in particular, two contemporaries that have been at his side the entire time.
A player for the Tarpons in the early-to-mid 1980s, one of Waldrop’s first coaching gigs came alongside Mut at Port Charlotte. There, in a fit of irony, Mut and Waldrop were responsible in 1990 for handing their alma mater its first-ever defeat at the hands of the Pirates.
Waldrop returned across the bridge not long after and when Eric Moore stepped down in 1999, he landed his first and only head coaching job.
“I was kind of in awe of everything,” Waldrop said, remembering that whirlwind first season. “I had a big football background before I became coach, but until you actually are there? It’s like somebody flashing a bright light in your face.”
The lights brightened considerably on the evening of Sept. 3, when Charlotte stunned Riverview. The 26-13 Tarpons victory was the first in school history against the Rams. The Tarpons would eventually finish the regular season 5-4 with wins against Venice and Port Charlotte and earn a spot in the postseason.
Mostly, the only thing that went through Waldrop’s mind that first year was, “work another year.”
He would work another 20 years. By the time he stepped down in 2020, Waldrop amassed a 168-72 record and led the Tarpons to 17 playoff appearances and nine district titles.
A year later, after 30 years of FACA coaches clinics and coaching two FACA all-star games, Waldrop got the Hall call this past June.
“Getting to this, this is something that definitely doesn’t go through your mind when you’re doing it,” Waldrop said.
It all happened so fast, but that it happened at all was due to those whom he worked with and the community that surrounded him.
“What a great administration I’ve always had to work with at Charlotte High School that supported and always understood what football meant to the community,” Waldrop said. “We live in a culture there where we don’t let each other fail at anything.
“Doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re a part of it, you’re going to have people around you that support you and make sure you have everything you need to be successful. This is really cool.”