Hewitt-Trussville’s David Dobbs built champions and lasting relationships through track and field programs

By BILL PLOTT, For the AHSAA

MONTGOMERY – David Dobbs wanted to be a businessman. However, his former coach at Banks High School, Mike Dutton, suggested otherwise. In the end, Dutton was absolutely right.

Former Hewitt-Trussville cross country/track and field coach David Dobbs (pictured, center) waves to the crowd at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium as he accepts the AHSAA Making a Difference Award October 2, 2020.
Photo by Vickie Unlap (fodaction.com)

Dobbs grew up in Birmingham, graduated from Banks High School in 1975 and from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1990.

Dobbs first worked in business after leaving college, beginning his career as a teacher and coach at Hewitt-Trussville High School in 1990. At the time, the school was part of the Jefferson County school system.

Very few schools in the county system had cross-country teams, but his influence over the next three decades changed that. He developed the Huskies’ cross-country and track programs while also teaching. He served most of the time as an assistant football coach.

The rest is history. Dobbs went on to become one of the most influential track and field coaches in AHSAA history — a key reason he was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame on March 21 as a member of the 2021-22 class. Dobbs is one of 12 coaches and administrators who will be anchored in the banquet at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

Dobbs’ impact on the sport, which he came to love, was enormous. His girls’ track teams won 14 consecutive Jefferson County championships (1992-2005). The Hewitt boys won seven straight Jefferson County titles (1992-2005) and were runners-up three times. His cross-country teams placed in the top two in the sections 29 times.

Dobbs’ teams have won four AHSAA state championships.

  • 1999 Indoor Athletics for Girls
  • 1999 Outdoor Athletics for Girls
  • 2021 indoor track and field for boys
  • 2021 indoor track and field for girls

He also had six teams that finished as AHSAA runners-up

  • 2010 and 2011 boys cross country
  • 2011 and 2021 Boys Outdoor Athletics
  • 2017 Indoor Athletics for Boys
  • 2021 outdoor athletics for girls

Hewitt-Trussville also won five section titles and finished runners-up 12 times. Dobbs was voted Jefferson County Teacher of the Year (1996), Track and Field Coach of the Year (1997-99), and Cross Country Coach of the Year (1998-2005). He was also a coach at the 2019 North-South All-Star Cross Country competition. More than 90 of his student athletes have received college scholarships.

“Hiring Coach Dobbs was one of the best things I did while I was athletic director at Hewitt-Trussville,” said Coach Jack Wood. “Over the years of being a track and cross country coach, he took what was almost a non-existent program and grew it into one of the most established and respected in Alabama. His record speaks for itself, but what is not reflected is his commitment to the entire school program and community.”

In a 2020 interview with Josh Bean, Dobbs said that when he arrived in Hewitt-Trussville he inherited a six-lane tarmac road that was “like a bad, bad country road.” By the time he retired in 2021, that venue had been replaced with a state-of-the-art surface that wraps around the school’s football stadium. It was the culmination of a 30-year career, all spent at Hewitt-Trussville.

“He did such a great job building this program that really never had any history and making it so competitive,” Woods said. “It’s really remarkable.”

“Coach Dobbs represents everything that is right in high school athletics,” said current Hewitt-Trussville Athletics Director Lance Walker, who played quarterback for Dobbs in junior high school. “He built our athletics program from the ground up and has dedicated his professional career to making our program one of the most respected in the state. I am very grateful for the impact he has had on the children in our community over the past several decades. I hear from his former athletes regularly and they share all of the positive ways Coach Dobbs has impacted their lives.”

Although he has retired from full-time teaching and coaching, Dobbs continues to serve as the cross country team‘s assistant track and field team and head coach.

After his retirement, Dobbs said, “It has been my privilege to coach at Hewitt-Trussville High School for the past 30 years. I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything. It is time to hand the program over to someone who will be able to continue the legacy that (my wife) Anita and I have built here. We have always thought that the program is bigger than wins and losses and have worked to develop character through competition for our athletes to become outstanding men and women.”

He was the 2020 AHSAA Making a Difference Award winner for Class 7A. In 2021 he received the Ned and Goldie Payne Gatekeeper Award. The award is named after Ned and Goldie Payne, two prominent Trussville residents. It has been awarded annually to an individual and organization for outstanding civic service in Trussville since 1966.

“His teams were successful, but more importantly, he had a positive impact on countless lives,” said Lance Walker, athletic director of Trussville City Schools. “I am privileged to work with Coach Dobbs and to see a portion of his extraordinary career. He has had a positive impact in our community for decades.”

Dobbs’ example of caring impacted others outside of the high school community. He has been involved with the Firehouse Men’s Shelter, community kitchens and Catholic charities. He introduced his players to the joy of serving those less fortunate through his kindness and selfless work with the homeless and hungry.

As an undergraduate, he served as a student representative on the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees. He was Honorary Chairman of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership and 1989 UAB Athletic Student of the Year.

Dobbs has always tried to stay connected with his former athletes after they leave school. When he and his wife Anita plan their annual summer vacation to see different parts of the country, they have trips planned that will help them connect with former student athletes and their families along the route.

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