Knowles wins Joe Floyd Award, from one Kodiak guy to another

May 5, 2021

Richard Knowles

Richard Knowles got his start in coaching in the 1970s in Kodiak with the help of Joe Floyd.

Winning the 2021 Joe Floyd Award has brought his career full circle.

Knowles was selected the award winner by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors over fellow finalists Dr. Charles Scott of Fairbanks and Richard Shellhorn of Cordova.

From one Kodiak guy to another, Knowles winning an award named after his mentor carries special significance.

“Coach Floyd was one of dad’s mentors,” said daughter Darlene ‘Pooky’ Knowles.

The Joe Floyd Award is given to person who has made a significant and lasting contribution to sports in Alaska.

That’s the definition of Knowles, who has dedicated his life to coaching Alaska kids in basketball, baseball and softball for the last 42 years.

Initially he sponsored youth teams in Kodiak before coaching them.

In 1982, he led the Kodiak Little League team to a state championship and then to the West Regional semifinals, where Kodiak lost 7-6 in heartbreaking fashion in the final inning to Kirkland, Washington, which went on snap the five-year winning streak by Taiwanese teams to win the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Kirkland needed a down-to-its-last-out, pinch-hit home run to hold off a Kodiak team that provided the state of Alaska with its first real taste of baseball success in the Lower 48.

By 1989, his passion had shifted to softball in Anchorage, where and won state titles at East High and guided two different teams to Little League World Series appearances in 2009 and 2011.

His Junior League softball teams won state championships in 2014, 2015 and 2017. His teams didn’t only win titles, but many of his athletes have earned college scholarships.

Knowles was nominated for the Joe Floyd Award by nearly 50 people.

“Richard has the uncanny ability to take a group of young ladies with different skill sets and get them to play together as a team,” wrote one of the nominations. “He teaches them that no matter their situation, they can accomplish great things when they work hard, play together, and above all else have fun. It is a gift and both of my girls are better off by having Richard Knowles as their coach and mentor.”

Knowles was a self-taught baseball coach and had some of the best mentors in Kodiak coaching, including Floyd, at Coon Field. He was known for always carrying a copy of the rulebook in his back pocket and would frequently pull it out to prove his point.

Knowles is the first person from Kodiak to win the Joe Floyd Award.

Joe Floyd Award Winners
2021: Richard Knowles
2020: Cristy Hickel
2019: Brush Christiansen
2018: Jim Mahaffey
2017: Ma’o Tosi
2016: Dennis Sorenson
2015: Mike Friess
2014: Dick Mize
2013: Don Dennis
2012: Steve Nerland and Don Winchester