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Dyersburg's Dawson receives A.F. Bridges 'Contributor of the Year' honor

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dyersburg's 'Voice of the Trojans' Charles Dawson (r) is presented the A.F. Bridges award for Contributor of Year in District 8 by Dan Black, a member of the Legislative Council of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
JACKSON -- Charles Dawson began his broadcasting career in the early '80s in Trenton. Soon after, Dawson moved to Dyersburg and he's been a Trojan ever since, more importantly he's been the 'Voice of Trojans'.

On Wednesday in Jackson at the annual TSSAA Athletic District meeting held at USJ, Dawson was presented with the A.F. Bridges award after being named Contributor of the Year for District 8. The A.F. Bridges Award is given to individuals in recognition of high ideals of integrity, ethics, and for the examples of citizenship and sportsmanship.

"Being recognized for one of these awards as a school or individual should be seen as one of the highest honors in high school athletics in our state. Those who receive the awards truly reflect what high school athletics should be about, and that's good sportsmanship and good citizenship," said TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress.

After the meeting which Dawson was presented the prestigious award, he was humbled to be associated with a man of great integrity such as the late Bridges.

"I knew A.F. Bridges when I lived in Trenton and he was a remarkable man that stood for everything good in high school sports," said Dawson. "To have my name associated with his in some small way is truly an honor and I'm very thankful. I've never done what I do to receive any recognition, but this is just great."

Dawson said the key to his longevity in the broadcast booth was simply being himself, something he didn't start out doing.

"When I was young and growing up, Cawood Ledford at Kentucky was my idol. He broadcast games for 39 years and he had some mannerisms and phrases that I just liked so I used them when I first started," said Dawson. "I did my best to be like him but then I just started being myself. I try to paint a picture of what is going on for the listeners and when I get excited, it's genuine."

Dawson, advertising director at the State Gazette, began his career as the voice of Dyersburg athletics in 1984, a year in which both the Trojan and Lady Trojan basketball teams advanced to the state tournament in Murfreesboro.

Since then he has announced over 1,000 games when combining the two sports, as well as serving as emcee at events for just about anything to do with Dyersburg athletics. Throughout the span of nearly three decades, Dawson has been through the ups and downs of the roller-coaster ride of high school athletics.

Despite having announced so many games, he acknowledged that there were a couple of favorite teams that he will never forget for their efforts on the field of play.

In basketball, though there have been many memorable moments, Dawson didn't hesitate when thinking about his favorite.

"I really hate to choose one team over another, but in basketball a team I will never forget is the Lady Trojan team that played for the state championship in 2005," he added. "I think that team may be my favorite of all time because first, they were a great team that was a close-knit bunch that were just really fun to announce. Second, I got to know some of those kids and their families and they were just special and still are, plain and simple."

In football, though the Trojans have had many special seasons, it didn't take Dawson long to find a favorite.

"The year the Trojan football team went to the state semifinals and played Pearl Cohn and big John Henderson. That was a special team too," he added. "We thought we could beat any high school team in America that year and we went to Nashville and got white-washed. Still, that was a special team."

Over the years, Dawson has had many partners that have joined in the broadcasting journey. Some of those include Charles Cowles, Tod Hayes, Phil Bivens, Charles Maxey, Errol Hook, Jere Edwards, Cal Johnson and Bubba Cobb. Dawson said he wouldn't be where he is today and still broadcasting if not for the help of others.

"I'm very proud of this award, but I didn't do this by myself. I've worked with some great people along the way in both football and basketball. They all did a great job and I'm very thankful to have sat beside them throughout the years. It's been a great ride and I'm grateful to all those guys for the help in making this a successful run."

Another set of people high on Dawson's list is the administration at Dyersburg High School, a group he believes has been very supportive of his efforts from the very first broadcast nearly 30 years ago.

"From the very beginning, the administration at DHS both past and present have been a blessing to me. We've gone through several principals and a couple of superintendents, but they've all helped in whatever way I needed," he added. "As the years have gone by I've become set in my ways and I want things done a certain way and I can be pretty vocal about it. Through everything they've been great and I really appreciate it."

Following the award presentation, DHS Principal Jon Frye said that Dawson is a true asset to the school and to Dyersburg in general.

"Charles has always been very helpful in everything we do in a lot of areas more than just lending his voice," said Frye. "He's all about Dyersburg High School and he's about the kids. He's interested in the students and I think all programs need to have someone like him around. We're fortunate to have him and he's one of our best public relations people."

After a successful 30-year career in broadcasting, Dawson isn't ready to hang up his headset just yet. Instead he says the future will depend on a couple of things.

"First and foremost, my health has got to stay good. Assuming I stay healthy, I'll probably continue to do it until my enthusiasm begins to wane and then I'll quit," he added. "In all honesty, I absolutely love to do it, but the road trips are beginning to get on my nerves and not are near as fun as they used to be. When it gets too much I'll check out and let somebody else do it, but overall it's been a great ride."

When asked if there was a goal he hasn't fulfilled and wants to before his broadcasting career comes to an end, Dawson didn't hesitate.

"I want to be there when one of our teams wins a state championship. I want one of those teams to win it all and I want to be the one bringing that exciting moment to the listeners," he said. "That would be a great way to go out."

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