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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

The 'Voice' very deserving of award

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ever had one of those weeks where no matter how hard you tried to stay focused on the task at hand, something else kept coming up?

The past week was one of those.

While gathering information for the annual basketball preview by meeting with the local hoops coaches, as well as shuffling from school to school to take necessary team photos, Wednesday rolled around and the preview was put on hold.

It seemed a trip to Jackson and the annual TSSAA district meeting was in order, especially since a good friend was being honored for his contributions to Dyersburg High School.

First I must tell the faithful readers that I met State Gazette Advertising Director Charles Dawson soon after taking over the sports-writing duties at the paper. At the time, we weren't co-workers but I already knew we shared a passion for local sports, I just didn't realize how much.

Long before meeting Dawson I felt like I already knew him. I had heard his voice for years broadcasting Trojan and Lady Trojan contests. I respected his efforts of keeping people entertained even during the slowest of contests.

Soon after meeting him, Dawson came to work at the State Gazette.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years we have developed a friendship greater than I ever imagined, which made making the trip to Jackson to witness him receive the award for being selected as the contributor of the year a no-brainer.

While making the drive, I thought about all the games that were brought to life through his voice. If you think about it, calling over 1,000 games in nearly 30 years is really hard to imagine, but Dawson has done it.

Some of those seasons when winning was far and few between had to be hard. I know for myself I've been doing it for a little over eight years and the one thing I can tell you is that it's not easy or very much fun to write about losing. I know it must be just as brutal to broadcast losing as well.

Still, Dawson stayed the course. He surged ahead and has witnessed some magical seasons. None of which has produced a state championship, which is something I truly believe he is waiting on before he hangs up his headset.

When I asked him about his favorite basketball team, I already knew the answer. The year was 2005 and though Dawson had seen many more highlights than I, it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand why.

The Lady Trojans began a march to Murfreesboro in November of 2004, and for the first time I was along for the ride. The players on the team all knew what we did at the contests, and the group was as special as they come.

I've said it before but I'll say it again, in my office hangs a picture presented to me by the senior members of the squad. Dawson has the same picture. It will be here until the day I leave for the last time.

I think back to that season as when we really began to learn about each other. He has helped me out when he didn't even realize it. He helped me when he didn't even know how bad I needed it.

The thing I've learned the most about Dawson the last eight years is the fact that he cares tremendously about Dyersburg High School. He knows facts I don't even remember and he genuinely cares about the student athletes that play the games.

Evidence of that can be seen usually during the Christmas tournament at DHS when former members of the respective teams make their way to the press box to say hello. Most remember him, but he never forgets any of them.

He's seen game-winning shots made and game-winning touchdowns scored. He's felt the heartbreak of a season ending prematurely as well as calling a state championship. I know because I was sitting right beside him at the Murphy Center when the Lady Trojans nearly capped off a remarkable season with a state title in 2005.

When the squad lost, we both felt the pain and neither one of us had a child playing, but it sure felt like we did. It was my first year, but what I learned from him during that time has stayed with me ever since. In sports there will be winning and losing, while in writing about sports or even in broadcasting, there will always be another season.

Dawson has had a lot of special seasons and he's given more of his time than most can imagine. On Wednesday in Jackson, sports gave back.

I don't know how much longer the 'Voice' will continue calling games, but what I do know is that I'll be listening for as long as he does.

After that, just like in sports, another season will begin for a new voice.

Man, those will be some huge shoes to fill.

Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stategazette.com

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