Overseas royalty is given at birth. It is neither earned or won. It is through a bloodline that men and women don crowns as kings and queens.
It is different here...especially in the mountains.
Nobility is not given freely in the Tug Valley. It is labored for and awarded only when greatness is produced. The only common ground with those abroad is blood.
A person is only elevated by locals if he/she has proven supremacy through the sweat of their brow, the blood from their back and tears shed in toll.
Only then do the people applaud the efforts, distinguish the greatness and award the success for years of hard work.
Only then does the community come together and crown royalty.
In this case, not only have the residents of Pond Creek assembled to honor one of their own, but all of those touched by the winningest high school football coach in the state of Kentucky are united and humbled by the success of Belfry High's Coach Phillip Haywood.
Haywood broke the record for the most wins by a high school football coach Friday night after defeating Pike County Central for the district championship. It was number 346 for the long-time coach and the majority of those wins came while at the helm of the Pirate program.
It was the early 1980s when Coach Haywood received the phone call that would not only change his life but hundreds and possibly thousands of lives in the Pond Creek area.
"I remember, somebody called and ask if I would be interested in coaching at Belfry and my original comment was I'm pretty content where I am, things are going pretty good," said Haywood. "I remember saying yeah, I'll meet with you and hanging up the phone. I am a fairly spiritual guy. And it was almost like God spoke to me and said you'll be going to Belfry."
"God knows I'm not a bright enough person to figure things out so He will open doors that I just fall through. This one was like that."
Throughout his years coaching football, Haywood has a loyal following with the young men that wore whatever color uniform to play on the gridiron with Haywood at the lead. One such man is Les May - a senior at Prestonsburg High School when Haywood first began coaching the Blackcats.
"He founded men," May said. "That first year coaching at Prestonsburg he was so disciplined. He held us accountable and I thank him for that. He brought a lot of intensity to our program. He always cared about us. He depended on guys that played for him. That's how I got into coaching."
May believes Haywood to be "tougher than anyone else" to achieve the milestone of most wins.
"Even though he is a phenomenal football coach, he is an even better human being," he said. "Belfry is talked about all over the state as a football success but it isn't the program that makes the coach...the coach makes the program."
"I would like to say, thank you Coach."
Dudley Hilton, UPike's football coach, held the record at 345 along with retired coach Bob Schneider. Hilton said he admires Haywood.
"There is no better person that I would rather hand it down to," said Hilton. "I've always admired him. He is a first class person. Sure, I would like to keep it but it is time for somebody else and Phillip Haywood definitely deserves it."
Hilton said this was not an easy achievement.
"The good Lord has got to bless you with health to be able to coach every day," Hilton said. "I don't think I ever missed a practice and I know I never missed a game in 36 years. You've got to have good players and you have to have a good school system that will let you work. It all has to work together. I would challenge anybody to see if they can last that long."
Hilton said if he and Haywood could bottle the secret to coaching football and sell it they would be millionaires. But it isn't something the long-time coach can put into words.
"I think my kids would run through the wall for me and I think Coach Haywood's would run through the wall for him," he said. "The good Lord has blessed us with getting along with kids and getting the best out of kids."
Randy Bentley was a Fleming Neon High School graduate. He played college football at the University Of Pittsburgh and was a member of the 1976 NCAA Championship team. Bentley came to Belfry Haywood's first year coaching the Pirates and was an assistant under Haywood.
"He just lines up and takes it to them," Bentley said. "It is old fashion smash mouth football. People have so much respect for him. He is the most kind-natured person. You want to work for him. He gets a lot out of everyone."
"I have been under many coaches....some won the national championship, some a Super Bowl, but Coach Haywood carries as much respect with me as anyone I've been around. I think the world of him," Bentley continued. "No way does anyone deserve this honor more than Coach Haywood."
"Good Job! Way to keep the worms warm" Bentley laughed at the inside joke.
David Jones played for Matewan High School before transferring to Belfry. He went on to play football for the Kentucky Wildcats and now plays for the Eastern Kentucky Drillers as well as coaches the defensive backs for the University of Pikeville.
"Coach Haywood didn't only teach me the game of football, he taught me to be a better person," said Jones. "To always be humble. Don't take the individual awards which are going to come with the success you have but you have to understand there are 10 other people on the field. Nobody's perfect and he would be the first one to tell you but he is he is a close as you can get. That is one great guy to learn from and I learned a lot from him."
Jones said he will never forget his first encounter with Haywood.
"I was super intimidated when I first went to Belfry," he said. "I've known about Coach Haywood for a while. I can remember like it was yesterday. The first day of practice I just about died. I wasn't out of shape, it was just different. And he looked at me right in my eyes and said you can do it my way or you can go home. That was the first time a coach had said something like that to me. When he told me that to my face, I knew right then and there that I had to jump on his ship or jump off of it. I made the right decision, I jumped on."
Jones came back to assist Haywood before going to UPike.
"I got to see the inside of what goes on and there's a lot that Coach Haywood does that nobody knows about and he doesn't take credit for," Jones said. "Congratulations and keep on winning."
Haywood said he is doing what he should be doing and is where he should be.
"This community has given a lot to me," said Haywood. "This is one of those unique places. There is a special flair to the people here. There is a closeness here that you find in rural America. But I've coached in four other places and I don't think I have ever found a place exactly like this. This is a special little community. Everybody wants to succeed but to succeed in doing things the right way."
His definition of success is "doing the best you can do with the abilities that God gave you."
By his very definition, Coach Haywood is a success and now it is in the record books.