As most of you know, I’ve been keeping football statistics for local high schools for many years. Thirty-nine years to be exact! Yep for those 39 seasons I have trudged up that long series of steps, either at Matthews Field or at some out-of-town stadium, to keep up with the exploits of our young gridders.
According to my count I have worked in 69 press boxes accross the state over the years, but the one that I visit most often is, of course, at Matthews Field. I guess I could count that one twice since I have worked in two press boxes at home. I spent many cold Friday evenings in the old press box and have spend the past 15 years in the present facility.
Yep, there have been many changes in the Matthews Field press box through the years. First was the move to the new box where we didn’t have to smell the aroma of the hamburgers from the concession stand below. Then we began to get free pizza and soft drinks at each game. Then air conditioning and heat was installed. The I began to work with the WTGA radio crew. Along the way I lost my old stat-keeping pal Bill Heule, who was a treat to work with and a good friend to boot. I still miss Bill.
As you can see there have been many changes along the way, but there has been one definitive constant. He has been there every game, with a few exceptions, and he is as prompt and steady as they come. That constant is press box coordinator James Dawkins. He runs the press box!
I have written about Mr. Dawkins on a number of occasions and will not delve into his coaching history or his years of service in the local recreation department. My readers know about my feelings and admiration for this gentleman.
My reason for mentioning him here is for the simple fact that he is celebrating a milestone that is amazing. As far as I can determine, this is the 60th year that Mr. Dawkins has managed the press box. I have asked him on a couple of occasions when he started this job. In his normal manner, he has refused to give me a definite year, but simply says that he started when Coach Cavan arrived.
Well, Coach Cavan arrived in 1953 and according to my figures that makes this year his 60th year. I may be a year or two off but that’s the best I can come up with. If he won’t give me a definite date, and he may not really remember, then I will use what information I have and call it his 60th season.
Have any of my readers done anything for 60 years? I would guess that few have given that many years to a volunteer task. Oh I admit that it’s not a daily task, but it does show great loyalty and commitment. I know that my 39 years seem like a really long time, so I know that 60 years is quite a span. The Knights athletic department just calls him up prior to every season, gives him a schedule, and he shows up. Mr. Dependable.
So what does he do? Well he makes sure that the local media gets their prime seats, greets and seats any guests that arrive, passes out the sodas and pizzas, passes out the night’s rosters, and in general makes everyone comfortable and at ease. He’s also the good-will person who makes sure that everyone’s needs are met and that everyone feels at home. He treats people with respect and courtesy. He’s top-notch at what he does.
I call him my press box pal because he arrives very early and is always there, neatly attired, when I get there. I always take about 30 minutes to sit and talk with him about family, football, and anything else that is going on. He is always funny, sincere, observant, and concerned about my well-being. He is also always there, a constant in time and history!
I want to recognize James Dawkins’ 60 years of service to the R.E. Lee and Upson-Lee athletic departments as pressbox coordinator. I know it goes unnoticed by most fans, but not by those of us who spend our Friday nights with him. He is an icon and local treasure in so many ways. Talk about irreplaceable! Wow!
Maybe you can give him a tip of the hat or acknowledge him in some way if you attend the Knights’ next home game on October 26. He doesn’t want the attention but he surely deserves it. Gosh, 60 years! I’m impressed!