BOE names D-B track for Crowe, Coughenour

Rick Wagner • Jul 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

KINGSPORT — The Dobyns-Bennett High School track has a new name, honoring two late track coaches who helped lead individual runners and teams in the 1970s and 1990s to state wins.

And the J. Fred Johnson football field will be getting new lights, the athletic program a second trainer, and D-B and Robinson and Sevier middle schools building-wide Wi-Fi.

The Kingsport Board of Education voted 4-0 with one position vacant Tuesday to name the track in honor of former coaches Dan Crowe and Tom Coughenour.

D-B track coach Bob Bingham said Crowe and Coughenour won 10 state championships, Crowe three track ones in the 1970s and Coughenour six cross-country ones and one girls track in the 1990s, not including six that were runners-up in cross country.

In addition, Bingham said the two coached 19 individual winners who won gold at the state level 47 times.

“They were great coaches,” Bingham said. “But they were better people than they were coaches.”

Bingham told the BOE that Coughenour had former students come back to visit years after their high school days or when Coughenour coached at what was then Robinson Junior High School, while Crowe reached out to the black community and let students with long hair or sideburns run track.

“Both these guys, they never quit coaching me,” said Randy Irvin, D-B class of 1975 and track coach at Tennessee High School in Bristol, Tenn. He credited the two men with getting him interested in teaching and coaching.

Irvin said Crowe was the only coach to have back-to-back state championships, 1971-72, before size classifications were applied to track.

Crowe coached Irvin at D-B in track, while Coughenour coached Irvin in football and track at Robinson and was his hurdle coach at D-B, Irvin said.

Another D-B track standout was Jim Ailshie, now principal of Rogersville Middle School in the Hawkins County school system, who thanked the two men’s families for their sacrifice in allowing them to spend so much time as track coaches and being role models and mentors. Ailshie still holds the state 800-meter record.

Crowe’s widow, Wilma, and Coughenour’s widow, Barbara, attended the meeting.

In other action Tuesday, the BOE voted 4-0 with one seat vacant to:

•Approve spending $257,692.75 for a capital project to bring wireless Internet to D-B, and Robinson and Sevier middle schools. That was roughly the original cost estimate to serve only D-B.

•Move forward with a proposal to fund lights for J. Fred Johnson Stadium at estimated costs of $370,000 to $390,000. The project could cost as little as $330,000, but the extra money is to be sure the lighting does not interfere with or have to be moved because of a possible expansion of the concrete and brick football grandstand with aluminum bleachers, an elevator and larger press box.

•Re-elect Randy Montgomery as president and Carrie Upshaw as vice president. Cheryl Harvey resigned recently so her husband could be appointed principal of Sevier Middle. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed Andy King in her place at a 7 p.m. BMA meeting. King is to serve out the rest of her term, which expires at the end of June 2013.

•Approve a second athletic trainer position for D-B. It is to cost $38,000 a year plus negotiated benefits. The cost will be borne fully by Wellmont Health System the first year, 75 percent the second year, 50 percent the third year, 25 percent the fourth year, and zero percent the fifth year.

Montgomery said Wellmont also is bringing more athletic trainer positions to Sullivan County and Hawkins County schools.

The board Tuesday did not address potential uses for an estimated $900,000 it may receive from a proposed Sullivan County property tax rate increase, which Montgomery said the board would do when things becomes clearer.

Members also got a report from Sandy Watkins, principal of the new Innovation Academy STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) platform school the city and Sullivan County school systems are opening jointly in August.

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