CLEARWATER, Fla. — As the clock struck 2:30, just after the conclusion of the school day, former Clearwater High School principal Keith Mastorides checked the afternoon sky. The rain was unavoidable. The clouds grew darker by the second. The winds were picking up.
If the long-awaited surprise was going to happen, it needed to happen now.
Mastorides graduated from Clearwater in 1987. He remembers Kathy Biddle’s smile then. He got to work alongside her until this year when left for a job at the district level.
He and other Clearwater alums, staff, and county administrators gathered under a tent on the home sideline of the football stadium Friday and stared towards Gulf to Bay Boulevard. The anticipation grew.
They were waiting for Mrs. Biddle.
The beloved teacher has been facing cancer for two years. In October 2019, we got to catch up with Biddle as the cards and notes of support rolled in. The cancer fight has been worsening for Biddle lately after medications showed early successes. She keeps friends and alumni updated on her health via Facebook.
Those notes and cards are helpful. In 2019, she said they were what helped keep her going. Now, the school decided it was time to show her the ultimate sign of gratitude and respect.
The golf cart came around the corner. Biddle rode shotgun with new Clearwater principal Eric Krause behind the wheel. A look of surprise spread across Biddle’s face as they neared the tent where Mastorides and others waited. She exited the cart and was greeted by at least a dozen hugs.
“How are you?” asked one person.
“Looking good. Looking good,” said Matorides.
Krause smiled as Biddle finished the last of her hugs. He was in on the surprise.
“We’re all here for you today,” he said.
Mastorides grabbed his rolled-up banner from the bleacher bench underneath the tent. It was time to unfurl it.
“You’re loved tremendously. What can we say about 42-years plus?” continued Krause. “In honor of you and everything else – Welcome to Katherine H. Biddle Field at Jack White Stadium at Clearwater High School.”
The banners unrolled, revealing the scripting for the football field’s new namesake. Biddle’s eyes widened.
“What?!” she said.
The raindrops were beginning to fall. So were the tears. Biddle, who spent time coaching, teaching, and even serving as Athletic Director at CHS, couldn’t believe the honor. Those in attendance knew how appropriate it was for the woman who’s proudly worn scarlet and silver since 1978.
“This is unbelievable. I never thought – I’m so excited. I never thought anyone would think to do this, no,” she said as she finally caught her breath. “I don’t know that I’m deserving but it’s a great honor. I’m thrilled.”
Biddle took a few steps onto the field. The wind blew her hair and the banners. The group gathered at the 50-yard line for a quick photo. Time was running out. Thunder was getting louder. Krause started up the golf cart.
A ceremony that had been decades in the making lasted less than ten minutes. Poor weather cut it short. Perhaps it was somewhat fitting that torrential rain showed up on the day the school honored its most cherished Tornado.
Clearwater will host another small ceremony during halftime of the Sept. 3 game against East Lake High School. The game starts at 7 p.m.