By BILL PLOTT, For the AHSAA
MONTGOMERY — David Dobbs thought he wanted to be a businessman. However, his former coach at Banks High School Mike Dutton suggested otherwise. In the end, Dutton was absolutely right.
Dobbs was raised in Birmingham, graduated from Banks High School in 1975 and the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1990.
Working in the business sector first when he came out of college, Dobbs began his teaching and coaching career at Hewitt-Trussville High School in 1990. At the time, the school was part of the Jefferson County School System.
Very few of the 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 and field programs while also teaching. He served as an assistant football coach much of that time.
The rest is history. Dobbs became one of the most influential track and field coaches in AHSAA history – a chief reason he is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame March 21 as a member of the Class of 2021-22. Dobbs is one of 12 coaches and administrators that will be enshrined at the banquet set for the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
Dobbs’ impact on the sport he grew to love has been tremendous. His girls’ track teams won 14 consecutive Jefferson County championships (1992-2005). The Hewitt boys won seven consecutive Jefferson County titles (1992-2005) and were runners-up three times. His cross country teams placed in the top two in sectionals 29 times.
Dobbs’ squads won four AHSAA state championships.
- 1999 Girls’ Indoor Track and Field
- 1999 Girls’ Outdoor Track and Field
- 2021 Boys’ Indoor Track and Field
- 2021 Girls’ Indoor Track and Field
He also had six teams finish as AHSAA state runner-up
- 2010 and 2011 Boys’ Cross Country
- 2011 and 2021 Boys’ Outdoor Track and Field
- 2017 Boys’ Indoor Track and Field
- 2021 Girls’ Outdoor Track and Field
Hewitt-Trussville also won five sectional titles and finished runner-up 12 times. Dobbs was selected 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 in the 2019 North-South All-Star Cross Country competition. More than 90 of his student athletes received college scholarships.
“Hiring Coach Dobbs was one of the best acts I did while I was athletic director at Hewitt-Trussville,” said Coach Jack Wood. “Over the years he has been the track and cross country coach, he took an almost non-existent program and developed it into one of the most established and respected in the Alabama. His record speaks for itself, but what is not reflected is his involvement in the total school program and community.”
In a 2020 interview with Josh Bean, Dobbs said when he arrived at Hewitt-Trussville he inherited a six-lane asphalt track that was “like a bad, bad country road.” By the time he retired in 2021, that venue had been replaced by 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 tremendous job of building that program that really had never had any kind of history and making it so competitive,” said Woods. “It’s remarkably, really.”
“Coach Dobbs represents everything that is right about high school athletics,” said current Hewitt-Trussville Athletics Director Lance Walker, who played quarterback for Dobbs in junior high school. ”He built our track and field program from the ground up and has devoted his professional career to making our program one of the most respected in the state. I am most thankful for the impact he had on the kids in our community over the past few decades. I regularly hear from his former athletes, and they share all of the positive ways in which Coach Dobbs impacted their lives.”
Although he has retired from full time teaching and coaching, Dobbs continues to serve as a track and field assistant and head coach of the cross country team.
Upon retiring, Dobbs said: “It has been my privilege to coach for the past 30 years at Hewitt-Trussville High School. I would not trade these memories for anything. It is time to turn 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 the program was bigger than wins and losses and have worked to ensure that our athletes developed character through competition to become outstanding ladies and gentlemen.”
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 for Ned and Goldie Payne, two well-known Trussville residents. It has been given annually since 1966 to one individual and one organization for outstanding civic service to Trussville.
“His teams were successful, but more importantly, he had a positive impact on countless lives,” said Trussville City Schools Athletic Director Lance Walker. “I have the privilege of working with Coach Dobbs and seeing part of his extraordinary career. He has made a positive impact in our community for decades.”
Dobbs’ example of caring has impacted others outside the high school community. He has been involved in the Firehouse Men’s Shelter, Community Kitchens, and Catholic Charities. He introduced his players to the joy of serving others less fortunate through his kindness and unselfish work with the homeless and hungry.
As an undergraduate he served as student representative to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. He was president of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary and was the 1989 UAB physical education undergraduate of the year.
Dobbs has always strived to stay connected with his former athletes after they leave school. When he and his wife Anita plan their annual summer vacations to see different parts of the country, they have planned trips that help them connect with former student-athletes and their families along the route.