Sports Figures Immortalized

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No two men have influenced the state of Georgia Tech's sports more than that of William A. Alexander and Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd. Not only did these two contribute a lot in the sporting realm but in the hearts and lives of the students, alumni, and fans nationwide. They are so significant that each has a building named for them. The buildings are known as the Alexander Memorial Coliseum and Bobby Dodd Stadium, two well known places on campus for all Georgia Tech fans. The buildings might be familiar to many, but the lives of the men for whom they are named are not as well known. In order to talk about the buildings, the lives of the men for whom the buildings were built must be addressed. William A. Alexander and Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd do not just deserve to be remembered through a building, their legacy must live on through their stories as well.



Contents

William A. Alexander (June 6, 1889-April 23, 1950)

Aerial view of the William Alexander Coliseum

William A. Alexander was a man of great character. He was born June 6, 1889, and later in his life, he attended Georgia Tech. He was not only a Georgia Tech alumnus, but an athlete, coach, teacher, and athletic director, who received many distinctions in his life like that of coach of the year in 1942. He was a man of integrity and honor, who wanted what was best for anyone who came into contact with him. When he was coaching, everyone knew he meant business. He taught his team to be much more than athletes; he taught them the true meaning of responsibility and helped to shape the lives of each person he came across in his life. He wanted nothing more than to make Georgia Tech a better place in any way that he could. Near the end of World War I, he saw that an immense number of boys could not pass the minimum military physical requirements, and he wanted to change that. He thought having varsity competition and a physical training place would help the boys to get in shape. William Alexander knew he could not help every boy in the world, but he wanted to make a difference for the ones that attended Georgia Tech so they would be better prepared for anything in their future. He worked on building his dream building until his death on April 23, 1950. Upon his death, his dream lived on as supporters who believed in not only William Alexander's dream, but in the man's integrity and positive influence on many, came together to complete his project. They rallied support to collect funding for what would become the Alexander Memorial Coliseum. [1]

Notable Achievements

He was named coach of the year in 1942 by the New York World Telegram and served one term as president of the national football coaches association with distinction. It came as no surprise that upon his death, his dream of building a recreation building lived on as people came together to complete his project. [2]

Alexander Memorial Coliseum

Georgia Tech had long been in need of not only a physical training center, but a major auditorium which would hold all of its faculty and students alike. Not only would it serve the good of the school, it would come to benefit the state of Georgia. [3] In December of 1950, the drive to collect sufficient funds for the Alexander Memorial Coliseum came up short in funds. However, an extension was given until January because many people in the South believed in William Alexander, who was a man who was the epitome of high integrity. As people pushed for an extension they were assured by L.W. "Chip" Robert, Jr., the national campaign chairman, that "the campaign will not end until the goal is far surpassed." [4]It seemed that William Alexander had a large following of people who believed in what he did and they would fight to make sure he was memorialized. It started with the dream of a man, William Alexander, and that dream would be achieved by the people's whose lives he had touched.

Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd (November 11, 1908 – June 21, 1988)

Most people do not know that Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd was turned down by Georgia Tech for college. Instead, he went to the University of Tennessee. At the university, he became an All-American quarterback in 1930. However, even though he did not attend Tech as a student or football player, he still wanted to be a part of the Tech community in another fashion, coaching. [5] In 1931, he joined the Georgia Tech faculty as backfield coach to the head coach William A. Alexander. Under William Alexander, he became top assistant for fourteen years until he became head football coach in 1945 and assumed the role of Athletic Director in 1950. Following William Alexander's example, Dodd was yet another fine man of high integrity and honor. He always tried to instill the necessity of teamwork in his team as well as the need to have good morale. He believed that in order to get excellent morale a person had to be given credit for what was accomplished. Bobby Dodd would sit and watch the game reels for hours just to watch plays to figure out if someone might have taken a backseat in creating a play just so he could give the person credit. If there was something Dodd felt a person needed, it was pride. He said that in order for success, pride was imperative. Bobby Dodd prepared his men not only for football games but the real world as well. Teamwork and pride go hand in hand not only in football games but in the real world too. A person, he thought, needed to be able to work with others and have pride in themselves for all that they do. The last thing he learned from his former boss William Alexander was that he needed to take the blame for when something happened on the field or if the team lost. Bobby Dodd made sure to tell his team that it was solely his fault and that they should all held their heads high. Through these simple philosophies, he gained the respect of not only the team, but the whole Georgia Tech community.[6] The community viewed him of a man of high character and his loyalty to Georgia Tech became more evident when he turned down a coaching offer by Baylor University in 1947 to remain at Tech. [7]

Notable Achievements

Bobby Dodd was more than involved in various events. Not only was he a coach and athletic director, he was an active participant in civic and business activities of Atlanta and Georgia, on the board of directors of the equipment sales company, inc., and the chairman of the Atlanta chapter of the Georgia Association for Retarded Children. In 1978, he became the first recipent of the "big heart award" for work with special needs children. [8]

Aerial view of Bobby Dodd Stadium taken by Rob Felt

The Birth of Bobby Dodd Stadium

Sadly, after the 1966 season, Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd stepped down from his coaching position due to health reasons. Although he had to retire, Dodd made sure to stay with Tech by taking a consulting position with the alumni association until 1976. He was always around campus and tried to make sure he was in the football stands up until his death on June 21, 1988. In his run as coach at Georgia Tech he had a record of 110 wins, 36 defeats, and 6 ties with 8 post season bowl games. [9]Aside from his outstanding impact he made on Georgia Tech football, he left a mark on everyone's heart. A former Georgia Tech football player, Frank Broyles put it best "There was no doubt in anyone's mind that off the field Bobby Dodd was like a second father. And he treated every person as he would treat his own son, or would want to be treated himself..." [10]It was only fitting that in 1988, regents voted to add the name Bobby Dodd stadium to Grant Field which had first been built in 1913. The regents voted to add his name not only because of his influence he had on the game of football at Georgia Tech, but due to his high moral character and respect he had earned on campus. And so, Bobby Dodd at historic Grant Field, was born. It is the oldest stadium on campus and seats about 46,000.

Dynamic Duo

William A. Alexander and Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd will be immortalized forever in their respective buildings but all people should know why the buildings were so named for them. Both were men of high character who made a difference in Georgia Tech's football program; however, more importantly, they positively affected the lives of the people around them. They both loved Georgia Tech and wanted to make a difference and that is precisely what each accomplished in their lifetime. People say it only takes one to make a difference in the world and this is clearly evident looking at the lives of each of these men.

References

  1. Now It's Our Turn To Carry The Ball for Georgia Tech and Coach Alexander 1950. (September 10, 2010). In Buzzpedia. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Now_It%27s_Our_Turn_To_Carry_The_Ball_for_Georgia_Tech_and_Coach_Alexander
  2. Now It's Our Turn To Carry The Ball for Georgia Tech and Coach Alexander 1950. (September 10, 2010). In Buzzpedia. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Now_It%27s_Our_Turn_To_Carry_The_Ball_for_Georgia_Tech_and_Coach_Alexander
  3. The Alexander Memorial Building Means A Greater Atlanta Through A Greater Georgia Tech 1950. (September 10, 2010). In Buzzpedia. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_The_Alexander_Memorial_Building_Means_A_Greater_Atlanta_Through_A_Greater_Georgia_Tech
  4. Alex Memorial Drive Extended into January 1950. (September 10, 2010). In Buzzpedia. Retrieved August 30, 2010 from http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Alex_Memorial_Drive_Extended_into_January
  5. Robert Lee Dodd 1940-1950. (September 26, 1946). In Records; Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology . Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Biographical information 1933-1988 MS380 Box 1; Folder1; Series 1
  6. Bobby Dodd. In Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology . Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Bobby Dodd Papers MS380 Box 1; Folder16;Series 2
  7. Dodd to remain at GT. (January 5, 1947). In Records; Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Biographical information 1933-1988 MS380 Box 1; Folder1; Series 1
  8. Congressional Record September 7, 1988. (September 7, 1988). In Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology . Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Biographical information 1933-1988 ; MS380 Box 1; Folder1; Series 1
  9. Bobby Dodd. In Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology . Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Bobby Dodd Papers MS380 Box 1; Folder16;Series 2
  10. Congressional Record September 7, 1988. (September 7, 1988). In Archieves of Georgia Institute of Technology . Retrieved September 30, 2010 from Biographical information 1933-1988; MS380 Box 1; Folder1; Series 1


Source Summary

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