Cavalier family pays it forward to coach's family

By Sabrina Squire - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Today's Act of Kindness is a team effort by the Clover Hill High School football family. They're honoring the memory of a beloved coach, who continues to inspire them every single day. The Cavalier family is paying it forward with a big show of appreciation to the family of Coach Rich Conklin.

College player turned coach, Richard Conklin, was a champion to his Clover Hill High School football family.

"We were in the playoffs three out of five years, he was the head JV coach so something good was going on," said Sean O'Hare, Head Varsity Football Coach.

An AT&T account executive by day, much of his other time was devoted to his green and gold team. He encouraged the Cavaliers to give their best no matter how big the challenge, as he did.

"A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with cancer and all thru his battle he did not miss his time with the boys, did not miss his time on the field and hung in there and inspired them," said Diane Flaherty, who's son plays football.

His teammates say he was the strongest person they've ever seen, and he was always positive upbeat about everything.

"He would route them on in saying that they were always fighting for a football game while he was fighting for his life," Diane said.

Coach Conklin lost his battle with colon cancer on January 20. The team took it hard.

"It was hurting to all of us," teammates said. "Sad."

"They dealt with this emotionally all year," said O'Hare.

They vowed to make coach proud. They won again and again, making another trip to the playoffs. They also made a tribute wall to honor their coach, mentor and friend.

Football mom Diane Flaherty, Varsity Coach O'Hare kept the ball rolling. We caught the pass and we all paid it forward.

Sabrina Squire: "$300 to an inspiring coach."
Diane Flaherty: "And we will pass it on to him."

They got the entire team together for a surprise celebration. Hundreds of players gathered in the Clover Hill Commons.

"He coached everyone in this room," said O'Hare.

To say thank you to the Conklin family.

Sean O'Hare: "This is the Act of Kindness that Channel 12 does and we love to present you with $100, $200, $300. It's just a small token of the great things that he did for the whole Clover Hill football family and all these kids. Thank you."
Melinda "Mindy" Conklin: "So overwhelmed. Y'all Rich loved every single one of y'all so much."

Mindy says she, her son Christian and daughter Morgan are grateful for so many acts of kindness.

"Just amazing to see how much he's touched everyone and how highly they thought of him," said Morgan.

"Donations, there's a benefit fund soon to be a scholarship fund," said Mindy. "[The money is] going right to the scholarship fund."

Because she says coach would want to keep giving back.

"He loved you all and he's with you, I know he is, everyday. Thank you," Mindy said.

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