On Saturday morning the County Commissioners will dedicate and name the newly renovated football field on the old R.E. Lee campus to James Dawkins. We always called this facility the “old” football field in comparison to Matthews Field. Well it has been upgraded and freshened to the point that it is a very pretty and functional facility. It looks great!
It’s about time that some board or commission or council in this community saw fit to name something after Mr. Dawkins. This man is an icon in this community and is more than deserving of this recognition. The idea of recognizing him has been suggested and thrown around for years, but until now, no group with the authority to do so has chosen to step forward. Thank goodness someone finally made the move. It is long, long, long overdue!
James Dawkins gave 35 years of his life to recreation in this community. Thirty-five years to the youth of this community. Thirty-five years to bringing positive recognition to this community. Thirty-five years to instilling discipline and respect into the lives of the youth of this community. With limited resources he made Thomaston a place where young people could enjoy recreation on an even playing field with any other community. He made us proud to put on that uniform with Thomaston across our chests. He did it all for us!
He coached teams that won district, regional and state championships, but those trophies are now lost, broken or stored away in some dark closet. What is important is the impact he had on the lives of those who played on those teams. He taught discipline, hard work, teamwork, respect, and values. Those lessons live on today in the lives of those players and haven’t been lost or forgotten.
This gentleman has never asked for anyone to recognize him for his efforts. He won’t even talk to me about such things. He did his job the best he could and, by golly, he did a heckuva job!
I am one who believes that those who make significant contributions should be recognized. That is why I am so involved in the Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame of which James Dawkins is a charter member. Those who follow us along the paths of sports and recreation in this community should be made aware of the contributions of James Dawkins. They should know what he did and who he was. He should never be forgotten.
Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Dawkins is nowhere near leaving us. At 91 years old, this man is very active and just as sharp as ever. Time spent with him is a privilege and presents an opportunity to carry on with some of the most extraordinary foolishness you can imagine. He is funny and can crack a joke with the straightest of faces. He is a “piece of work.”
When I was a kid I was deathly afraid of Mr. Dawkins. When I worked for him as a young adult some of that fear transformed into admiration and respect. I said some because I was still afraid of him to a degree. As I got older I was able to finally dismiss the fear and develop a genuine friendship with him. He has always been very supportive and complimentary of me and I appreciate his confidence and friendship. He is a valued and much loved friend!
I don’t know how many people will be present at the program on Saturday, but I am sure that there are not near enough places to seat the people who would like to be there. Mr. Dawkins has significantly touched the lives of so many people who no longer call Upson County home as well as those who still reside here. If I had dollar for everyone who has been touched by this man, I could finance the renovation of this facility.
Congratulations Mr. Dawkins! You deserve this honor and many more. Thanks for all that you have done for me and all those who came through your programs. We have all profited from just knowing you and being around you. May God bless you and Mrs. Betty.
And oh yeah - It’s About Time!