On June 25, 2019, friends and family were informed of the passing of beloved Hackett Little League legend, Donald Campbell. For over 20 years, Donnie had been a staple to the Hornet community. Anyone who knew Donnie Campbell would tell you that there weren’t enough words in the English dictionary to describe how great this man really was. But to try to know Donnie, I guess you would have to start from the beginning.
Donald Campbell was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and in 1989 he moved to the town of Hackett. This is where the true journey begins. Donnie had always been larger than life in character. The type of person that could light up any room he walked into. His compassionate, encouraging, and genuine nature would be what would set him apart in the decision he was about to make. A decision that would not only impact his life but the lives of everyone he was about to come in contact with.
Donnie Campbell stepped onto the Little League scene with confidence and ease. Although he never received a formal education in coaching, Donnie proved that a degree was just a piece of paper with your name on it. What he did for the Hackett Little League Program, was more than anybody within a 500-mile radius with a coaching degree could have ever done. Although he did coach in Little League Baseball some, Donnie’s true passion was in coaching football.
Like all coaches, Donnie made sure to instill good sportsmanship in his players. But he also went out of his way to teach valuable life lessons too. “My dad wanted all of his players to succeed in life,” explains son, Kyle Campbell. “Not only was he someone who led by sportsmanship but he was a role model too. He was someone those kids could look up to.”
For Coach Campbell, it didn’t matter if you won or lost a game. As long as you had fun and gave it your best shot, that was all that mattered. For several years, Coach Campbell also took great pride in being the voice of the Hornets. “There has never been a man more passionate about sports that I know of,” expresses Kyle. “He lived for coaching those kids and loved watching them grow in sports through the years.”
For a lot of the Little League players, Coach Campbell played a big part in laying down the foundation of what it took to be an upstanding human being. Fellow coach and longtime friend, Dave Slavens, had this to say about his mentor. “Donnie had a true love for coaching and not just picking one or two kids to really focus on. He wanted everyone to have an equal opportunity to play this sport. Talent meant nothing to Donnie. But making sure every kid had a fair chance to get on that field and play this game that he loved, that’s what Donnie was about.”
In 2017, Donnie was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer that would later spread to his bones and into his brain. In 2018, the Hackett Little League Program was asked to pick a name that would go on one of the trophies that would be battled over in the annual Mansfield and Hackett Little League Rivalry Game. That name was Donnie Campbell. “I remember going to see Donnie and asking if it was ok that we put his last name on our rivalry trophy,” Slavens recalls. “The man teared up and said that it was the coolest thing he had ever been asked. The last time I would see him was the night we won that trophy. Man, he was so proud we won that. It meant the world to him. Now, I believe that trophy means more to our little league than anything else.”
Keeping his memory alive are his four children, Leanne and her husband Todd, Josh and his fiancee Stephanie, Kyle and his wife Sonny, and Heather and her husband Russell, along with his 14 grandchildren. Donnie’s caring and devoted nature didn’t stop when he passed away. In August, Kyle and Sonny Campbell presented the Hackett Little League Board with a $5,000 check which Donnie had left to the program that had been the leading force in everything he did and had given him so much to live for.