Retired coach, financial exec Joe Purzycki co-authors book on a remarkable friendship


In November of 1980, Delaware State College athletic director Nelson Townsend was ordered to find a new coach for his losing football team.

He found Joe Purzycki, a former all-American football player at the University of Delaware, and in Townsend’s eyes, the perfect match for the job. There was only one problem: Purzycki was white.

Mr. Townsend & The Polish Prince is the story you haven’t heard. The true story of an against-all-odds friendship between Nelson Townsend, the former Athletic Director of Delaware State College and Joe Purzycki, the first ever white head football coach at an historically black college.

“I’ve wanted to tell this story for 38 years,” says Purzycki. “Hopefully it has some relevance as a story about race that’s incredibly positive when people work together.”

“It’s a really interesting story to me because it reinforces how deep Joe and Nelson believed in each other,“ says co- author Mike Gastineau. “They walked through a long, deep, tough valley to get to the other side, and they never waivered on each other. I’m thankful to have been chosen by Joe to finally get the story told.”

Mr. Townsend & The Polish Prince is now available on Amazon.

Joe Purzycki won 55 games as the head football coach at Delaware State and James Madison University between 1981 and 1990.

He was Captain and an all-American defensive back at the University of Delaware in 1969. After coaching, Purzycki became an executive in the financial services sector and finished his career as Vice Chairman of Barclays Bank.

Purzycki is a widely sought-after speaker and a former Chairman of the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware. He resides in Rockland and Rehoboth Beach with his wife, Sharon.

Mike Gastineau is an author, broadcaster, and free-lance writer. He has written two books, Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece(2013), and The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists (2009).

Gastineau also worked as a consultant and co-author to Arctic Adventurer Steven Trafton for his biography At the Edge (2017). He has written numerous stories for various Pacific Northwest publications including Mariners Magazine, Washington Athletic Club Magazine, the Seattle Times, and Sportspress Northwest. He lives on Whidbey Island in Washington state with his wife Renee.

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