COACH'S CORNER: For Fenton ... one more time
by Mike Wright, Cadiz Record Columnist
Oct 03, 2012 | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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(From left) Kevin Reynolds, Fenton Dawson, Mike Right, Lenny Raley and Steve Guess run the streets of Cadiz early on a fall morning in 1976.</i>
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(From left) Kevin Reynolds, Fenton Dawson, Mike Right, Lenny Raley and Steve Guess run the streets of Cadiz early on a fall morning in 1976.

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Although over six years have passed, I remember the exact moment I found out as if it were yesterday. The moment I am speaking of is when I learned that my good friend Fenton Dawson had died in a plane crash in Lexington. I was playing in a golf scramble at Lake Barkley State Park. After hitting my tee shot on the 12th hole, I went back to my cart to notice several missed calls from my youngest son Zeke. I immediately called him back and he broke the news to me. Zeke said, “Dad, several people have called the house trying to talk to you. They said your friend Fenton Dawson died in a plane crash.” Right then and right there, I dropped to my knees on that 12th tee box way back up the hollow on the Boots Randolph Course at Lake Barkley. Even though I had three playing partners that day, I immediately felt alone. A feeling of total anguish came over me. As the day went along, more and more people called me on both my cell and home phones. Reality began to set in. We had all lost a great friend in Fenton Dawson.

After a few days, I found myself in a car with Steve Guess and John Ben Travis traveling to Lexington for a memorial service held for Fenton. It was there that we gathered with friends, teammates and classmates. They were all there, including the ones in the picture that accompanies this column. From left to right in the picture, Kevin Reynolds came from Utah, myself from Cadiz, Lenny Raley from Shepherdsville and Steve Guess from Bowling Green. We gathered to grieve and to share fond memories of our time with Fenton.

As I grieved for Fenton and his family, the grief I felt led me to take a risk and do something I had never done before. I walked into The Cadiz Record and spoke to then editor Vyron Mitchell. I told him I wanted to write a column about my fallen friend. That is how I got my start as a columnist for The Cadiz Record.

As I said earlier, over six years have passed since that time. Since Fenton’s death, I have named and dedicated our TCHS cross country invitational after him. Since it is widely known that this is my last year to teach and coach, it could be my last time to honor Fenton by hosting this meet. Therefore, I wanted to pay tribute in print to him one more time.

I am writing this more to Fenton’s family than anyone, I suppose. His widow Marsha and children Maddie and Chase survive him. Maddie is now a 16-year-old sophomore who plays on the soccer team. Chase is a seventh grader who plays soccer and basketball and runs track. This year will mark the first time they have been able to come to Cadiz for the meet held in their father’s honor. As a matter of fact, all the Dawson family will be there. Fenton’s parents, Mr. Fox Dawson and Mrs. Grace Lane Hancock, have not missed a year yet. Fenton’s brothers Layton and Mont will be there, as well as his sister Pam. I want to use this forum as an opportunity to invite ALL of the class of 1978 that graduated with Fenton to come and share in the moment also. You each may have a fond memory to share with the Dawson family. If nothing else, your presence would be a great tribute.

Maddie and Chase, I write this paragraph for you to let you know your father from my perspective. Fenton Dawson was a good man. Fenton was the good guy, the one that got along with everybody. He was the one who always had the answer to the tough problem in trigonometry and chemistry. He was the good classmate, teammate and friend. He was the good athlete, the fastest among all of us. Fenton was the calm amongst the storm. Every single time I ventured to Lexington over the years, I always made contact with Fenton. He never failed to meet me somewhere for a meal or just a glass of tea. Countless times, he spoke to my cross country and basketball teams. He spoke to them on grades, effort, dedication, being a good teammate and how to have pride when representing Trigg County.

Fenton Dawson was a man who loved his family, including his parents, siblings, wife and children. He was also a man who really cared about his friends and what was going on in their lives.

Losing Fenton Dawson had a big impact on me. Knowing him had a greater one. Fenton, one more time, this race is for you.

OT: Each year, the Trigg County boys and girls cross country runners benefit from a gift from the Fenton Dawson Foundation.

OTT: This year’s race is Thursday Oct. 4 at the entrance to Lake Barkley State Park off U.S. 68. The times are 5 p.m. for middle school, 5:30 p.m. for girls varsity and 6 p.m. for boys varsity.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference

Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.

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