Former mayor Dixon reflects on coaching career

Published 9:33 am Friday, January 26, 2024

As the former mayor, a local attorney, and long-time coach, Dodd Dixon has cultivated quite the amount of respect during his time serving Winchester.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17th, he had an opportunity to share what he’s learned and more.

Dixon spoke to the Rotary Club of Winchester, accompanied by star pupil and University of the Cumberlands bowling recruit Meredith Fryman.

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“It was a two-part [presentation],” Dixon said. “The first part was about [the] history and background of the local bowling program, and the second part was about my coaching philosophy.”

Dixon, who currently also coaches both cross country and the speech team at George Rogers Clark High School – and also has a background in track –  took over the school’s bowling team almost by accident in 2019.

After the former bowling coach left, Dixon noticed the upset felt by a member of his speech team.

While working with then-athletic director Jamie Keene to find a replacement, he came to an unexpected solution.

“No one was willing to step up, and so at that point I said, ‘Well, I can do that!’” Dixon said. “The kids are great…I’m in year five right now.”

While excited at the opportunity, Dixon knew cultivating not only an interest but a thorough enjoyment of the game was key.

“If they love what they’re doing, then it makes it so much easier to be successful and teach them to have fun,” Dixon said.

A believer in positive coaching – stating that successful coaches such as the NBA’s Steve Kerr have emphasized such – Dixon notes that focusing on improvement and progress is essential.

Prioritizing the alternative can yield improved results for athletes.

“I found that negative statements to athletes just don’t work. In particular, when an athlete is running a distance event and you hear some coaches say ‘don’t slow down! all their brain hears is ‘slow down!” Dixon said. “You increase the propensity of the athletes slowing down if you [include] that negative statement. Instead, I say things like ‘You’re doing good’ [or] ‘We need a surge here!’”

Acknowledging that progress not only involves reaching for set goals but also – in some cases – unfortunately failing to meet those, Dixon tends to keep such perspective in mind.

He also notes the importance of using sports as an educational opportunity.

“One of the main reasons we have sports in the public schools is to provide a safe place for kids to learn,” Dixon said. “Sports participation really teaches you to learn how to deal with [adversity] and it makes you a better person once you become an adult.”

As mentioned, with the bowling season on the horizon, Dixon was joined by GRC student and bowler Meredith Fryman.

Hoping to conclude with the best season in school history, Dixon – noting that the senior co-captain has averaged a score of over 200 in practice – spoke of her performance.

“She just really has the most perfect bowling form I’ve ever seen in a youth,” Dixon said. “In Region, during her sophomore year, she bowled a 267 when she won. She really gets up for the competition. We’re optimistic that she’ll do well!”

Quoting sources such as Vince Lombardi and 1 Peter 4:8 from the Bible, Dixon made sure to conclude that caring for the athlete as a whole is a priority.

“Not only is that a good credo for life, but I think it’s an important rule for coaching,” Dixon said.