Harrison Recreation League renamed after Bobby Dunn

Harrison Recreation League renamed after Bobby Dunn

August 13th, 2014 by Kendi Anderson in Local Regional News

Hamilton County mayor Jim Coppinger, right, speaks about the accomplishments of Bobby Dunn, center, during the renaming ceremony of Harrison Recreation Center to Bobby Dunn Park near Chattanooga, TN on August 12, 2014. County commissioner Warren Mackey is at left.

Photo by Logan Foll/Times Free Press.

Isabella Holden stands in her cheerleading outfit during the renaming ceremony of Harrison Recreation Center to Bobby Dunn Park.

Photo by Logan Foll/Times Free Press.

Bobby Dunn told his mother that when his two sons were grown he would retire from the Harrison Recreation League.

"That was many years ago," his wife, Nita, said laughing. "Our sons are now grown and he is still the league president and has been for a long time."

Last night seemed like a normal Tuesday night at the ballpark for Dunn who has been involved in the league for 35 years. Hot dogs were grilled, snow cones were sold to kids in ball caps, and Dunn watched with a smile as the teams stood on the ball field for a group picture.

The Hamilton County Commission had a surprise for Dunn, and it involved changing the name of the league and park in honor of him to Bobby Dunn Harrison Recreation League and Park.

"The people of Highway 58 came to us and asked that we change the name," said Warren Mackey, a Hamilton County commissioner. "We never name things after people who are still alive, but we all agreed that it needed to be done."

More than 200 people who have been involved with the league during Dunn's service came out to celebrate the announcement.

The league currently serves between 550 and 700 kids a year, offering football, baseball and cheerleading, said Donna Lowe, director of operations at the Bobby Dunn Recreation League.

"Many of the kids that come through are regulars, which is a testament to the league that Dunn has fostered," Lowe said.

"This isn't a park where you just come and park and watch your child's game and go home. We all watch our kids grow-up together here," said Michelle Harper, a board member and rookie commissioner for the league.

Juvenile Court Clerk Gary Behler said that leagues like this are what keep kids out of his court.

"When kids are plugged in to places like this it's healthy for their development and strengthens our community," Behler said.

Dunn is widely known in the league for his high behavioral standards for everyone who participates.

"If anyone is caught cussing they have to do a lot of running," said Ronnie Crabtree, who now attends Central High School and started playing in the league when he was five.

Tyler Cook is six and about to start his third season of football in the league. "Bobby Dunn is always really nice to me and he helps people and me with my football a lot," he said.

"We all know the commitment that Bobby Dunn has done here and the decades of work that he has put into these fields," said County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

"He is making a way for kids," Lowe said. "If a kid can't pay Bobby Dunn finds a way for them to still play. He is very involved and wants every child to have an opportunity."

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.