Known for his engaging speaking style and charismatic personality, high school football coach Faye O’Dell traveled extensively as a national FCA representative for more than 30 years. His popularity as a motivational speaker eventually took him to 46 states where he averaged 200 appearances a year for various events such as coaches’ conferences, NFL and NCAA football chapel services, and Marine Corps reunions. He was the keynote speaker at a prayer breakfast with President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and spoke at the retirement dinner for Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1982.
At Springdale (AR) High School, O’Dell was a five-sport athlete and excelled as an all-conference selection in football and basketball. He was also a state champion in track and an AAU Golden Gloves boxing champion. Just as his athletic career was taking shape, O’Dell left the Arkansas football team following his freshman season to join the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He became a lieutenant colonel and was awarded two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and one Silver Star.
O’Dell finished his college football career at Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma) as an all-conference selection. He also won multiple AAU Golden Gloves titles and served as the student body president. After returning to active duty to fight in the Korean War, O’Dell began his coaching and teaching career at Cushing (OK) High School where he led the program to a state football championship in 1958.
O’Dell’s coaching career also included stops at Drumright (OK) High School and Perry (OK) High School. He served as President of the Oklahoma Coaches Association for a term and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1983. O’Dell was also named an Outstanding Alumni of the University of Central Oklahoma and inducted into the Springdale Public Schools Hall of Fame. In 1998, Cushing High School named its football field “O’Dell Field” in his honor.